Concerns about floods, housing in Aerotropolis

Affordable housing and flood risks have emerged among the key stakeholder concerns as planning progresses for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis.

Australia’s first aerotropolis is set take form in Western Sydney by 2026, with a vision to transform 11,500-hectares of land into an urban centre with industry, jobs, transport, housing, infrastructure, education and open space all built around the planned Western Sydney Airport.

The Western Sydney Planning Partnership, comprising the state government and a collection of local councils, has finalised a consultation report based on 600 submissions received following the exhibition of the Stage 1 land use and infrastructure plan last year.

Flood risk warning

In its submission the NSW State Emergency Service says it has been left out of planning discussions for strategic land use around the South Creek corridor, described by the planning partnership as the “central green spine of the aerotropolis”, despite the potential for the flood risk to significantly increase.

The SES warns against overlooking the risks created by exposing a new community to natural hazards, and says maximum flooding, flash flooding and emergency management around the corridor, including evacuation planning, need to be considered.

“Although the plan is embracing South Creek and its natural environment, it should not overlook the potential for the flood risk to significantly increase as a result of increased development,” the SES says.

It stresses the need for risk-based land use planning and calls for greater involvement in the planning process.

“The NSW SES has previously requested inclusion in discussions on the further growth identified for the Creek corridor … however there has yet to be any formal or informal invitation in regards to including the NSW SES in strategic land use planning discussions,” it says.

The Planning Partnership says in its report that some submissions included suggestions for rehabilitation and widening of the creek, combined with appropriate infrastructure, to reduce flood risk during consultation.

It says development will be located outside the major flood risk area and this will be confirmed through further investigations and risk assessments.

Limited discussion about affordable housing

The Community Housing Industry Association, meanwhile, called for recognition of a clear affordable housing strategy and a greater focus on low cost and sub-market rental in the planning process.

It says community housing providers are part of the social and economic fabric of western Sydney as well as active investors in the region.

The CHIA says the aspiration that the aerotropolis will employ 200,000 people is contingent on housing infrastructure, and planning will need to reflect that not all the jobs that will be created will be highly paid.

Retail workers, hospitality workers, cleaners and security guards, as well as health and child care workers, will also have to be accommodated.

“This requires the development of a housing policy that meets a range of income requirements, including affordable housing,” CHIA says.

It says there is limited discussion about the need for affordable housing in the stage 1 land use deal, and no mention of an affordable rent strategy as part of the aerotropolis vision of the Western Sydney City Deal.

“We are also unclear as to how the plans for precincts in the aerotropolis area will be linked to requirements that all local government prepare a local housing strategy,” the association says.

It wants clear affordable housing targets, inclusionary zoning and ring-fencing of government owned sites for affordable rental housing development.

Health concerns

The South Western Sydney Local Health District highlighted the need to consider housing density, saying it is concerned the promised “streamlined planning process” will take away the ability of local government and other stakeholder to influence urban design.

“Higher density housing done poorly can contribute significantly to poor mental wellbeing,” it says in its submission.

“Apartment dwellers in the higher density core will be exposed to noise from the airport as well as neighbours living in close proximity.”

It also notes the aerotropolis will be located in one of the hottest parts of Sydney and says heat mitigation will have to be taken into account when planning housing and urban areas.

The SWSLHD also wants to see footpaths and cycleways incorporated as transport options, rather than just for recreation.

“We welcome the commitment to walking and cycling paths but recognise that active transport has different drivers to recreational exercise and walking, and should be considered as a focus area in its own right,” the submission says.

The Western Sydney Planning Partnership is responsible for delivering precinct plans and a final plan for the Western Sydney Aerotropolis to state government.

The partnership, set up as part of the Western City Deal,  comprises representatives of all eight Western Parkland City councils as well as Blacktown Council, and representatives from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Transport for NSW, Sydney Water and the Greater Sydney Commission.

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5 thoughts on “Concerns about floods, housing in Aerotropolis

  1. This aerotropolis is not wanted. There is almost no consultation and information is being kept from the communities it impacts. This is an environmental disaster.

  2. The airport is an irresponsible disaster – the Federal Government should never have given it the go ahead. It is not a sustainable transport solution. Instead Government should be building a Brisbane – Sydney – Melbourne Very Fast Train which can be fuelled renewably.
    The airport will compound the problem of poor air quality and excess heat, whilst destroying agricultural land and peaceful skies over the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
    The aerotropolis adds another layer of disaster. It is planned in a highly unsuitable area subject to Sydney’s worst air quality and greatest heat load. These problems cannot be easily dismissed. Abu Dhabi and Doha understand how to build for 50 degrees C. Sydney does not, and people should not be housed in these conditions. Where is the water going to come from to irrigate all the trees which seem to be the only climate solution? So unrealistic, as urban areas inevitably reduce canopy and fear of fire clears more trees.

  3. Planning for Western Sydney appears to be driven by disparate development opportunities with inadequate regard to what are fundamental limiting factors. The Hawkesbury-Nepean River system flows into and drains the greater part of Western Sydney. It is a very large catchment area with a restricted outlet through the sandstone gorges of the lower Hawkesbury. Its drainage is limited by the tides of the Pacific Ocean which reach inland to well above Windsor.
    The flooding risks have been simplistically sold to those living on the floodplains of the Hawkesbury-Nepean as being caused by waters that flow from the catchment above Warragamba Dam. This marketing of the floodplain as a safe place to build upon to live and work is dangerous and unless people are told the truth, it could and should result in claims upon the government who planned it to happen.
    The significant and growing proportion of floodwaters that stem from land use changes on the floodplain and its catchments is not acknowledged. Major developments such as the Badgery’s Creek Airport and the surrounding service areas, will dramatically alter the rate and volume of runoff to South Creek (a major tributary of the Hawkesbury).
    Add to this the increased runoff draining to the Nepean from proposed developments in Macarthur and the flooding risks downstream become serious. Add again the sea level rise which will alter the outflows from the floodplains and a large part of Western Sydney is in trouble.
    It is essential that the SES is involved in the design of any major developments in the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment. The hydrology of the area is becoming more complex as the weather becomes more extreme.
    The responsibility for planning on a catchment scale is sorely lacking and must be sheeted home to the government.

  4. A bid of 32 billion dollars for Sydneys Kingsford smith airport has been accepted, They will want to ensure a return on that investment. The WSA will likely be a white elephant waste of taxpayers money, and a destructive environmental impact as well.
    Sydney Basin is a geological temperature inversion zone, all that heat and smog gets trapped there. Time to stop this mistake before its too late. High speed rail is what we need. Its a project that better serves the people and the planet.

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