‘Have faith:’ Minns puts NIMBYs on notice
NSW Premier Chris Minns says Sydney’s future will need to focus on creating higher density housing in urban areas, in order to attract young people to the city.
While Sydney was once commonly regarded as Australia’s most populated city, Melbourne overtook the Harbour City due to boundary change enacted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in April.
Speaking at the Sydney Morning Herald’s Sydney 2050 Summit, the Premier stressed the economic and cultural importance of attracting and retaining young people to live in Sydney, while conceding its diminished housing affordability, and growing rental crisis was a key barrier.
“Forget about owning a home, it’s now become impossible to even rent a home,” he said.
“The implications for the economy are devastating, not to mention the cultural impacts for an entire generation of young people who are saying ‘this city is not for me’.”
He flagged a potential solution would be increasing affordable housing, plus more medium-density housing in transport corridors, and said his government would “rebalance” growth, flagging an increase in apartment builds.
“Sydney can’t grow by adding another street to the western fringe of Sydney every week … (because) you have to stretch social infrastructure over a bigger and bigger plane,” he told the SMH’s state political editor, Alexandra Smith.
“I think the best way to ensure we protect open space is to have buildings that go up,” he said.
However, he also acknowledged his government would need to ensure confidence and crack down on dodgy builders when it came to building medium-density housing, crediting his Coalition-predecessor’s appointment of David Chandler as the NSW Building Commissioner.
When asked about his response to anti-developer sentiment, sometimes referred to as NIMBYism (not in my backyard), he pointed towards international cities like New York.
“(Anti-developer sentiment) is not the reaction to how we build cities around the world. You don’t see the Mayor of New York saying: ‘Manhattan is full, we have enough buildings, we’re done’,” he said.
“Have faith that if we get the planning processes in place, and we get world-class developers, and planners … that Sydney in its totality, that we can build beautiful cities, using cutting edge design tools.
“I think we can still do that.”
The Premier said Sydney’s housing crisis, and in particular its tight rental market was a key concern for his government.
On Monday, he announced he would be writing to government departments to identify land available for development and would ensure 30 per cent of that land is available for social, affordable and inclusive housing.
“It’s not good enough just to say: ‘We may be building over here, we might go over there or we might go somewhere else,’” said Mr Minns.
“We have to look at ensuring there’s building that takes place there.”
He said a good example was build-to-rent arrangements near Westmead Hospital.
“It’s beautiful designed, well-build dense housing that actually provides a place for young nurses and paramedics and health care workers to live near where they work,” he added.