The NSW Government said over 725,000 houses must be built in Sydney in the next 20 years. (Supplied: NSW Government)
NSW Labor claim western Sydney is being “clobbered” by over-development, while the Government says it’s on track to meet the city’s housing shortfall.
The data suggests both are right.
The ABC analysed almost 28 years of data from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DPE), who have kept records on the number of houses and apartments built across 36 local government areas (LGA).
Development in Australia’s most populous city is shaping as a major issue for voters ahead of the NSW election on March 23.
- The data reveals there are more homes being built in western Sydney, faster than ever
- Camden, in Sydney’s south-west, is on track to exceed its target of new homes by more than 50 per cent
- NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts says comparing development between suburbs is “meaningless”
The figures show the majority of development is concentrated in Sydney’s west and south-west in councils like Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Blacktown, Parramatta, Bayside and The Hills Shire.
“These central business districts — like Parramatta, like Liverpool — are where people want to be,” said Nicole Gurran, a Professor of Planning from the University of Sydney.
“They’re well located in public transport infrastructure and certainly most of the residents would be making use of that rail.”
The Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) — a government agency overseeing planning across the city — has set districts and councils housing-supply targets to keep up with future demands.
The GSC has set a target for eight councils in Sydney’s western city district, in the south-west and west, to build 39,850 new homes between 2016 and 2021.
Those councils are Blue Mountains, Camden, Campbelltown, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, Liverpool, Penrith and Wollondilly.
According to the DPE’s internal data, between July 2015 and June of 2018 a total of 24,048 of those dwellings were completed.
Camden, in Sydney’s south-west, has a target of 11,800 new homes by 2021 and has already finished 7,295 of them from July 2015 to June last year.
In the same period, the construction of an additional 9,436 houses or apartments were approved.
If Camden was to continue developing at the same rate, by 2021 the council would overshoot its housing target by more than 50 per cent.
The development rate of other western Sydney LGAs like Parramatta (38 per cent), Liverpool (58 per cent), Canterbury-Bankstown (18 per cent), Ryde (57 per cent) and the Hills Shire (27 per cent) are all on track to exceed their 2021 targets.
In the simplest terms, there are more homes being built in western Sydney faster than ever.
Comparing suburbs ‘meaningless’
Opposition planning spokesperson Tania Mihailuk said many LGAs in Sydney’s west and south-west had “excessive housing targets” and that if Labor was elected, it would make the GSC revise them.
“It’s not fair to exempt some areas from taking on their fair share while allowing other communities to be clobbered,” Ms Mihailuk said.
“This Government has given Hunter’s Hill a target of 150 and 300 [in] Mosman in the Premier’s backyard whilst Blacktown, Penrith and Sutherland are bearing the brunt of over-development.”
Hunter’s Hill — in Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s electorate of Willoughby — has among the lowest targets.
NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said comparing targets in different parts of Sydney was “meaningless”.
He said Sydney needed to provide 725,000 new homes to meet population growth in the next 20 years.
He said some suburbs, like Mosman, had 1,708 homes per square kilometre already — almost twice the housing density of Bankstown or Parramatta.
“A comparison of housing targets between these areas is statistically meaningless,” he said.
Professor Gurran said there was no appetite for developers to “acquire a mansion in Mosman”, where less than 300 new homes have been built since 2013.
However, she also said Sydney development could be more “sophisticated” and that, in some areas, it had “skipped ahead” of essential infrastructure.
“The key area I work on is affordable housing and I don’t think we’ve got that right yet,” she said.
According to CoreLogic, real estate prices in Sydney are declining at the fastest rate in the country, however in February the median price of a home was still $789,399.
Last year, the Premier said immigration had been allowed “balloon out of control” and called for a “return to Howard-era immigration levels in NSW”.
She also said “some parts of greater Sydney in particular cannot handle extra development”.
Minister Roberts said the Coalition’s focus was on increasing the supply of homes and “accelerating the delivery of infrastructure to support new housing”.
Ms Mihailuk said a Labor government would conduct a full audit of publicly owned land and create an “affordable housing land register”.