NSW government reveals plans for new school, 3600 new homes in Rhodes East precinct
Up to 3600 homes will be built in the already jam-packed inner-west suburb of Rhodes under new plans unveiled by the state government.
A 20-year plan to further transform the heavily-developed suburb was announced by Planning and Housing Minister Anthony Roberts on Friday.
A mix of apartment towers – up to 38 storeys high – and terrace houses have been proposed as part of the draft Priority Precinct Plan for Rhodes East.
There are also plans for a new primary school to cater for the population influx, as well as shops and cafes, community facilities and new pedestrian and cycling paths.
“We cannot afford in Sydney to wait around to develop new housing,” Mr Roberts said. “The population of Sydney is increasing by about 100,000 people each year and to accommodate it we need to ensure we have a diverse range of housing stock, close to public transport.”
Road upgrades, open spaces and other infrastructure would be supported by a contribution levy paid be developers. With the levy anticipated to be $20,000 per dwelling, developers would contribute about $72 million to new infrastructure. The state government would also contribute an unspecified amount.
The homes are expected to bring an additional 8250 residents to Rhodes, which has already seen its population increase by more than 600 per cent in one decade.
Rhodes’ population jumped from 1668 in 2006 to 11,906 in 2016, thanks to the introduction of 4600 new dwellings in that time. Less than 10 per cent of the population resides in the suburb’s east.
The west side of Rhodes has already been transformed from a heavy industrial area into a high-density residential, retail and business park. The draft plan proposes to rezone the east side, which is dominated by detached houses and an industrial area, found at the northern end of the Rhodes Peninsula.
Mr Roberts said it was important to utilise height in the redevelopment of the area to maximise public space around the new dwellings.
Canada Bay mayor Angelo Tsirekas welcomed the plans but said it would be crucial to get the infrastructure needed to support the population uplift.
“Any upgrades, any strategic planning needs the infrastructure. It can’t be the last thing you put in, it has to be part of the development from the start,” he said.
In addition to a new primary school, the state government is also proposing “long overdue” upgrades to Concord Road, a new ferry wharf, improved public transport services and a pedestrian land bridge to better connect the east and west side of the suburb.
“We certainly believe that once all that is complete there will be plenty of capacity for the population now and well into the future,” Mr Roberts said.
Mr Tsirekas admitted there were mixed feelings in the community regarding further development. “You will always have people that don’t want densities.”
One of those people is vocal Rhodes resident Ian Inglis who believes the area is already at “bursting point”.
“How many more thousands of people can live in this little precinct?” he said. “It’s overdevelopment … they should leave Rhodes as it is now.”
Mr Inglis, who lives in an apartment on the suburb’s west side, noted further development was already taking place at the suburb’s new Station Precinct.
He said congestion had become a massive issue due to the “deplorable” traffic along Concord Road. “The traffic through Rhodes is crazy, there is one entrance in and one out.”
Fellow resident Jessica Yap, whose young family lives in a house on the east side, said she would hate to see her street become like those in west Rhodes.
“I’m not totally opposed to getting higher densities, it makes sense near the train station, but I wouldn’t want it to spread right across the area.”
She added the state government would need to address the issue of public transport as it was struggling to cope with the existing population.
“They keep talking about the trains and how well connected it is. In peak hour the train only comes every 15 minutes and you usually can’t even get a seat early in the morning. I’ll be interested to see if they can really walk the talk.”
The draft precinct plan will be on exhibition until November 10.
This article has been amended since publication to clarify the developer and government funding model.
Source: Kate Burke, “NSW government reveals plans for new school, 3600 new homes in Rhodes East precinct”, Domain Media, September 15, 2017