City of Sydney councillor Edward Mandla has called for a complete revision of the CoS Southern Industrial Area (SIA) plan or risk dampening growth in NSW.


At Town Hall yesterday, Councillor Edward Mandla, with a contingency including his policy advisor John Preston, Ric Simes from Deloitte Access Economics, Will Dwyer from Goodman, and Josh Vrsaljko, Chairman of Sustain Community Housing, made their case against the City of Sydney’s (CoS) current plan for the Southern Industrial Area (SIA).

Mandla was the sole councillor to vote against the CoS plan for the SIA and “buried in the thousands of pages of experts’ reports” to come up with an alternative plan for the area.

“The poor decision-making of the CoS will condemn this state-significant area to industrial archaeology by creating a business park that will compete with Macquarie Park and would take 100 years to get fully tenanted,” Councillor Mandla said.

“What I saw was the city is completely misaligned with the state government’s plan for growing Sydney.”

Councillor Mandla is concerned that the Council will “put the growth of NSW at risk” with their inability to follow through on “basic ratepayer expectations”.

John Preston was very vocal about his support for the plan, asserting that Council’s “wacky ideas” weren’t going to work and that they wanted to do “the most good for the most people”.

“The Liberal Party wants to maximise human potential, minimise human suffering,” Preston said, indicating that it was their motto – one which people might not readily identify with the party.

“Would you prefer ideological or practical land use? The City of Sydney has been ideological and it’s not going to get people housed.”

Councillor Mandla said that he and the Greens were “in agreement” on this, that something needs to be done. although such did not stop Preston aiming a sharp barb at the Greens when asked about what they had to say on the matter, believing that the Liberals had “an evidence-based view of the world” and that we should “ask to see the Greens’ evidence” before taking what they say to heart.

“They want us all living in tepees,” Preston declared, just before Councillor Mandla began speaking.

The proposal includes 30 000 residencies, as well as workspaces for 50 000+ working professionals in the area. During question time, Councillor Mandla said that this plan for the SIA wasn’t just about building only more housing and that’s it, but about “building housing and transport” to that housing.

The land is located close to the CBD – at only 3km from the airport as well as close to several hospitals and universities – and as a result of that, want to create new, separated cycle-ways, a new Light Rail from Central to Mascot, and an additional train station on the Airport Link line called “Doody Street” between Green Square and Mascot.

Key to the proposal is the creation of “Parisian-style” integrated housing and workspaces, not a “Hong Kong style outcome”, as Will Dwyer put it, with “$300 million of revenue to be spent on buying affordable housing for the LGA”.

Councillor Mandla said that his plan would save over $40 million in commuter time and transport costs, 28 million vehicle kilometres – or “Five hundred trips to the moon” as John Preston put it – and would generate $690 million in developer contributions, as well as $118 million per year in various taxes and rates.

Mandla also made it very clear that this was about taking the control out of the hands of the CoS.

“If the City of Sydney still had control of Barangaroo, nothing would be happening there but small-minded squabbling,” he said.

“We don’t know who the next Premier will be, but they are aware of the plan.”

Ultimately, the basis for the “One hundred years to fill the current plan’s homes” seems a bit far-fetched, particularly given that the only reason they seem to be sticking with the line is that the calculations involve “a lot of maths” and “when you get to , it comes out at 100 years”.

However, the idea appears to be in good faith and, if well-executed, could potentially pay off.

The concern is really whether or not private contractors can be trusted to do what’s right for Sydney and not just for their own annual income.

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