Working paper

Sydney's metropolitan strategy / Sydney's metropolitan strategy: a comment

URP Working Paper No. 5

15 Jun 1988

The NSW Government has prepared a metropolitan strategy for the Sydney region, in line with recent efforts by other states to update and upgrade their metropolitan strategies. This strategy includes the third metropolitan plan for Sydney. The 1951 County of Cumberland Plan was a detailed land use plan essentially for the local governments that comprised the Cumberland County Council (1949), and the 1980 Sydney Region Outline Plan was a State government plan dominated by the management ofperipheral urban growth (State Planning Authority 1968). The present metropolitan strategy differs from these, reflecting different economic and social conditions, a different understanding of policy instruments and urban change, and a different legislative and political climate.

The purpose of this paper is to show how the objectives, policies and instruments of the metropolitan strategy reflect these changed conditions. It is not a full exposition of the strategy. Rather, the paper describes the approach taken in developing the strategy, examines planning objectives and policies, and reviews the various instruments available for implementation. The overall strategy consists of a strategy plan for the metropolitan region, a series of policies to guide development in accordance with the plan, and a program of implementation. Unlike its predecessors, it will not be based on a particular population projection, but will aim to accommodate 4.5 million people - about a million more than the present population - by whatever year that threshold is reached. On current trends, this is expected in 2013, a timespan of 25 years.

In his comment on Wilmoth's paper, Conner focusses in turn on the six major pressures on the formulation of the strategy and asks a series of critical questions of each. These are: urban development commitments beyond the current Sydney Region Outline Plan; changed economic and social conditions; local government pressure for regional guidelines; industry concern at possible shortages of land for urban development; environmental issues needing long-term resolution; and the need for major public investment decisions to be guided by long-term strategy. He then asks: how and why is this strategy different from the last? His discussion ranges over the issues of government endorsement and successful implementation, statutory status, population targets, corridor plans, urban consolidation policies, infill programmes, and employment redistribution. He concludes that the new strategy is hopeful, but cautiously quotes the wisdom of Peter Harrison s adage that "the only thing you can be sure of when you've finished the plan is that the real world will not end up looking anything like it".

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