Demographic changes fuelling NSW planning reforms

Mccrindle’s infographic below provides a concise snapshot of the demographic changes emerging within Australia, which in turn are leading to planning reforms:Australia-Street-McCrindle

In our earlier post on 11 February 2014, we advised that there were some new leadership roles being incorporated into the Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s organisational chart, including a Chief Demographer. A multidisciplinary approach to planning which draws on the experience and expertise of demographers provides a helpful mechanism to ensure the State’s planning laws meet society’s evolving future needs.

Some of the State’s proposed planning reforms appear to be directly related to the demographic changes and trends the State is undergoing. One of the big drivers of the proposed planning law reforms within NSW has been the increase in the average house price, with the NSW Government showing a strong resolve to increase housing supply (within Sydney in particular). We’ve noted previously that there are other ways to increase housing supply without reforms, including rezoning land as per the Catherine Fields example. A more recent example is the mandate provided to UrbanGrowth by the Minister for Planning to lead the delivery of major scale renewal projects, such as affordable housing at Central to Eveleigh.

A further statistic embedded in the infographic relates to usage of public transport. In a speech given to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia on 21 March 2014, the Minister for Transport, the Hon Gladys Berejelkian MP, emphasised the NSW 2021 Plan, which has priority targets for growing patronage on public transport by making it a more attractive choice and improving the customer experience. Clearly, major transport infrastructure projects such as the North West Rail Link, and the Sydney Light Rail are targeted at increasing patronage and improving the above statistic of 1 in 10 catching public transport and reducing car dependence.

Without commenting specifically on the merits of the NSW Government’s desired future reforms, it seems fair to say that the emphasis on strategic planning as part of the proposed NSW planning law reforms is aimed, in part, at proactively dealing with these demographic and statistical trends.

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