Castle Hill Showground Station precinct — why this is Sydney’s future

NSW Government’s plans for precincts around Showground, Bella Vista and Kellyville stations include around 13,500 new homes, 14,000 new jobs, areas for schools, public spaces, pedestrian and cycle links. Artist’s impression for the Showground — Carrington Precinct.

HILLS residents have been ‘locked in limbo’ for almost three years as NSW Planning work to finalise the Showground Station Precinct plan — but the proposed redevelopment to increase density and housing could impact residents across the entire Sydney Metro line for up to 20 years.

WHAT ARE THE PLANS FOR SYDNEY’S GROWTH?

THE Plan for Growing Sydney was released in December 2014, by the NSW Government for Sydney’s development over the next 20 years.

Sydney’s population is expected to grow by 100,000 people every year for the next 20 years, to take the population to 6 million.

The plans covers housing, employment, infrastructure and open space in places where there are good existing or planned transport services.

A major consideration is walking distance to public transport, shops and services, leading to the development of priority growth areas that extend to a radius of 800 metres or a ten minute walk from public transport and shops and services.

The Greater Sydney Commission estimates the need for 725,000 extra homes and has called for councils to provide for almost 200,000 extra homes by 2021 within their five-year housing targets.

More than 700,000 units in blocks of up to 25-storeys will be built across suburban centres over the next two decades.

There were initially ten priority precincts — including North Ryde Station; Epping Town Centre; Wentworth Point; Carter Street, Lidcombe; Herring Road — the Planning Minister considered most important for their social, economic or environmental significance and where the government wanted to increase the population quickly through high density.

These precincts were envisaged as larger areas, usually made up of multiple land holdings with high density living and include.

But many more priority growth precincts and growth areas/precincts have been announced across Sydney. These include Cudgegong Road, Rouse Hill, Kellyville, Bella Vista Norwest, Showground, Castle Hill and Cherrybrook.

Cherrybrook is also a priority precinct.

There are four priority precincts within the Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Corridor along the southwest part of the Sydney Metro, which were announced on June 1: Canterbury, Campsie, Belmore and Lakemba.

Other new priority precincts announced on June 1 include Burwood, Strathfield and Homebush; Frenchs Forest; Glenfield; Leppington Town Centre; Anzac Parade; Riverwood; Schofields Town Centre; Seven Hills; St Leonards and Crows Nest; Telopea; Turrella; Bardwell Park; Wentworthville and Westmead.

THE CASTLE HILL ‘SHOWGROUND STATION’ EXAMPLE

RESIDENTS surrounding the Showground Priority Precinct have called on the NSW Planning Department to release final plans, which have been formulated since 2015, following two community forums held this month.

Angry Castle Hill residents Ron Buxton, Paul Cook, Kim McArtney and Andrea Cook are fed up that the state government has not revealed precinct plans for the showground station area. Picture: Angelo Velardo

Some residents are concerned that if the State Government agree to Council’s plans, certain rezoning could see a loss in potential sale price to developers.

Others are concerned about the increased density in the Hills Shire and how it will clog up local infrastructure.

However the Planning Department and Hills Shire Council are facing a war of words for why the plans have not been finalised — and who is to blame.

The NSW Planning Department blamed The Hills Shire Council’s objection of the draft rezoning plan for the hold up of the finalised report, claiming council “considered the potential housing forecast would not be adequately serviced by jobs, infrastructure, public amenities and recreation space” in a large package of unexpected material last month.

The Castle Hill Show Society is also upset over the State Government’s Showground Station Precinct plan. Society members Peter Gooch with Harry Hyland.

The spokesman said the council made a request to amend the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act to mandate council’s specific master planning objectives which “unnecessarily delay the delivery of new homes”.

“Council also requested bonus height or density to be provided for lots with a minimum size of one-hectare, when this is not a requirement for any other development,” the spokesman told the Times.

“The department has continued to work closely with council and meet with local MPs to finalise the rezoning plans for the three precincts and at no stage has sought to hold up the process but rather has dedicated numerous resources to address issues as they are raised by the council.”

An artists’s impression overview of the Showground Station Precinct.

However, The Hills Shire Mayor Michelle Byrne hit back at the Planning Department’s claims, highlighting the plan’s complexities and the decision process was under the government’s control.

“Retro-fitting a low density urban footprint to accommodate this many future residents is not easy and difficult decisions have to be made,” Cr Byrne said.

“Currently the numbers being planned for are not being accompanied by the infrastructure needed to support them.

“Our concerns centre around including appropriate road networks, open space, sporting grounds and community facilities, as well as ensuring both existing and new residents have adequate access to health services and schools — preferably within the walkable catchment of the precinct without the need to cross busy roads.”

John Allen and his neighbours were upset over the State Government’s Showground Station Precinct plan.

NSW Planning told the Hills Shire Times this week that it is committed to providing a recommendation to the Planning Minister by the end of 2017. While the council encouraged residents to complain to the Planning Minister and ask him to make a decision.

The State Government are also working to finalise rezoning controls as part of priority precinct plans for Bella Vista and Kellyville, while work nears completion for stations including Cherrybrook, Castle Hill, Norwest, Rouse Hill and Cudgegong.

YOU WEIGHED IN

OVERWHELMING results to a NewsLocal poll revealed that 95 per cent of voters supported the NSW Planning Department — when it came to the blame game around delays in the finalisation of Showground Station Precinct Plans.

More than 1100 readers voted in the Hills Shire Times poll last week, as part of an exclusive package on Hills Shire Council and NSW Planning’s war of words over the precinct.

WHAT IS THE SHOWGROUND PRECINCT?

ONCE again this is an area that is of a radius of about 800 metres or about ten minutes walk from the new Showground Metro Station.

It is not necessarily related to any potential changes to the actual showground, which are possible because of changes the Crown Lands Act which handed power over many showground to councils rather than trusts.

Five districts have been proposed for the Showground Precinct, with a local centre to be housed surrounding the new Showground Metro Station.

Local centre

A new local centre will be focused around the new station. The centre will benefit from the activity around the new station and will provide for a range of shops, cafes, restaurants, and local services.

Residential apartments will be located within the centre, above shops and business on lower levels.

These buildings will be the highest buildings in the precinct to benefit from how close they are to transport, shops, services and open space.

The Castle Hill Showground, immediately north of the local centre, will continue to be an important regional open space and cultural facility benefiting from excellent transport access.

Cherrybrook station precinct plan.

Commercial and light industrial sub-precinct

The land west of Cattai Creek will largely be maintained for light industrial, bulky goods retail and other employment uses, retaining but enhancing the existing character of the site.

Victoria Avenue will continue to be a major spine for bulky goods retailing.

There will be jobs on the western edge of the precinct to encourage greater connections with the Norwest Business Park.

Carrington Road sub-precinct

There will be an expansions of offices and business on Carrington Rd up to six-storeys with the prospect of more jobs.

The government says this will create a continuous employment ‘spine’ that links with Victoria Avenue.

Residential apartments will be permitted directly adjacent to Carrington Road and Cattai Creek would be restored for more public open space along this creek corridor for the community.

Residential apartments sub-precinct

Residential apartments on the southern side of Carrington Road adjoining the local centre will be close to the station, shops, open space and other facilities and will range in height from 12 to 16 storeys.

The height of apartments further south of these buildings will be from six to eight-storeys as a transition to the lower scale residential development within the southeastern

portion of the precinct.

Town houses and detached dwellings sub-precinct

Residential areas within the southeastern part of the precinct, and between Showground Road and Kathleen Avenue, will be principally town houses, attached dwellings and stand-alone dwellings between two to three-storeys in height.

THE PRECINCT TIMELINE

THE Planning Department began undertaking strategic masterplanning along the Sydney Metro Northwest corridor in 2012.

In 2013 the then Minister Brad Hazzard released the North West Rail Link Corridor Strategy, which guided the station precinct rezoning investigations along the corridor.

Following the release, The Hills Shire Council unanimously voted for Bella Vista, Kellyville and Showground to be nominated as Priority Precincts.

In 2014 the then Minister Pru Goward announced these precincts.

Sydney Metro program director Rodd Staples at Bella Vista Station.

Draft precinct plans were released for public comment for three months from December 2015 until February 2016, where 715 submissions were received across the three precincts with more than 300 for Showground Precinct.

In response to these submissions, the Department undertook extensive urban design, market demand and economic feasibility analysis in the Showground Precinct.

The then Minister Rob Stokes also requested the Chief Planner, Gary White, to work closely with council on a masterplanned approach for development controls for the precinct.

The Department subsequently made a number of changes to the draft rezoning plans to address issues raised.

In July 2017, the Department provided a draft rezoning instrument and statutory maps for the finalisation of Bella Vista and Kellyville Precincts.

In September 2017, the Department released the draft rezoning material for Showground Precinct.

In November 2017, residents demand the finalisation of the priority precinct for Showground.

DEVELOPMENT IN THE HILLS

A MULTIBILLION-dollar, Silicon Valley-style vision for the future has been proposed by Mulpha Norwest to create a world-leading innovation, lifestyle and economic “smart city” for Norwest Business Park.

Mulpha’s masterplan for the 377ha business park proposes a $3 billion development including the redevelopment of Norwest Marketown; the development of The Greens; the redevelopment of the Circa commercial, retail and retirement precinct and a concept for the revitalisation of Bella Vista Farm Park.

An artist’s impression of the proposed opera house at Mulpha Norwest.

But Mulpha’s masterplan to create an innovative lifestyle hub is not the only groundbreaking vision for the future as the developer engaged consultants to investigate new innovative technology to introduce driverless shuttles, off-grid energy options, an innovation incubation club and an opera house for Bella Vista Farm Park.

Mulpha’s plan suggests the community will be connected by 50km of pathways and cycleways to create a walkable and cyclable city “actively encouraging residents and workers to stroll between the integrated precincts”.

An artist’s impression of proposed smart city at Mulpha Norwest.

Developers, Sekisui House has also revealed its ambitious plans to develop a high-rise apartment building between six and 12-storeys high every year until 2024 — with The Orchards project valued at more than $1 billion.

The masterplan includes an indoor heated swimming pool, a gymnasium, cycleways along an established creek, a function centre, children’s playground, a rooftop cinema, a lagoon swimming pool and “skylark’’ playgrounds on top of buildings, which Sekisui sales and marketing operations manager Paul Wainwright said would be a first in Australia.

In August last year, it was announced almost 90 homes in Castle Hill would be sold together as a “mega lot” surrounding the Castle Hill Showground site, in the biggest group sale ever record in the Hills.

The Orchards at Norwest.

WHAT IS HAPPENING ELSEWHERE

A NSW Government report has stated the Sydenham to Bankstown Corridor could “feasibly” accommodate nearly 60,000 homes, which is 25,000 more than originally planned.

The government wants the 13.5km corridor for 35,000 dwellings with 800 metres walking distance of a station to be delivered over the next 20 years.

The study suggests that a theoretical 91,000 could be squeezed into the corridor by 2036 — but the report states that “not all development opportunities are financially feasible to pursue”.

The Department of Planning says the figures are just forecasts and not a projection of what is to come.

The proposed developments at Carrington Road, Marrickville

Mirvac has announced plans for a $1.3 billion apartment project in Marrickville that could have 20 building including some up to 100 metres or 28-storeys comprising 2600 units.

It would mean a large part of Carrington Rd, or 7.8ha of industrial land between it and the Illawarra railway line be rezoned for high rise towers.

Federal Member for Grayndler Anthony Albanese, who was briefed by Mirvac last month, described it as “massive overdevelopment”.

“It is greed gone mad, and I told Mirvac that,” he said.

The scale of development in the four priority precincts which includes 16,000 dwellings and apartments up to 25 storeys high has disgusted the community lobby group, the Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance.

Graphic showing Sydenham to Bankstown urban renewal plans.

The alliance formed last year to lobby to protect the character of heritage suburbs and existing rail stations along the 13km rail corridor.

The eleven neighbouring suburbs stretching from the inner city to the southwest along the new Metro train line will be overhauled, with tired suburban shopping precincts giving rise to multistorey residential developments, new plazas and schools.

More than 1800 submissions were originally presented to the State Government on the strategy, with further 350 submissions and 300 respondents to the online survey to a revised strategy.

Upgraded Metro stations will be put in place on the existing Sydenham to Bankstown rail line from 2020 — four years before the line is converted to a metro line.

An artist’s impression of the proposed residential development near Sydenham train station.

The government said the line will bring the number of passengers catching the line in the peak up from 9000 to around 17,000 per hour.

With at least 15 trains an hour in the peak — one every four minutes.

But the trains will be single not double decked.

The line will be shut for three to six months in 2023 in order for the line to be turned into Metro.

Former NSW Ministry of Transport executive director of planning, Robert Gibbons, has red-flagged the strategy in a report in which he argues the Metro and its surrounding development is flawed.

Earth Visual and Physical Inc executive director Sharon Kerr looks at her “herd” of Leaellynasaura in Marrickville. Earth Studios is part of the Carrington Rd precinct — one of Sydney’s leading areas for creative industries, which is under threat from the proposed rezoning. Picture: John Appleyard

In his report, Mr Gibbons argues the Metro will provide no increased rail and road capacity, and ultimately lead to greater congestion.

Leading city planning expert, University of NSW City Futures Research Centre director Professor Bill Randolph, warned the plans for the corridor could mean the line become an enclave for “those with deep pockets”.

He has called for the NSW Government to form an independent corporation to ensure there is enough affordable housing among the 36,000 new apartments proposed near stations.

An artist’s impression of Dulwich Hill Metro station.

WHAT IS THE SYDNEY METRO

THE first stage, Sydney Metro Northwest will cost more than $8 billion and is due to open in the open in the first half of 2019.

It is Australia’s largest public transport infrastructure project currently under construction and runs 23km from Epping to Cudgegong Road, northwest of Rouse Hill and also include the existing 13 kilometre Epping to Chatswood rail line.

A Sydney Metro train that is soon to be in operation. Picture: Cath Bowen

Upgraded Metro stations will be put in place on the existing Sydenham to Bankstown rail line from 2020 — four years before the line is converted to a metro line.

The line would bring the number of passengers catching the line in the peak up from 9000 to around 17,000 per hour.

The line will be shut for three to six months in 2023 in order for the line to be turned into Metro.

THERE will be Eight new railway stations.

The second stage, Sydney Metro City and Southwest, will run from Chatswood under Sydney Harbour, the Sydney CBD and west to Bankstown.

This section is planned to open in 2024 with capacity for a train every two minutes each way under the centre of Sydney.

In June 2016 the State Government estimated its cost to be between $11.5 to $12.5 billion.

Source: Jake McCallum and David Wood, “Castle Hill Showground Station precinct — why this is Sydney’s future”, Hill Shire Times, The Daily Telegraph, November 21, 2017

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Castle Hill Showground Station precinct — why this is Sydney’s future