The Green Square development, one of Australia’s largest urban renewal projects, will be home to 61,000 residents by 2030, according to new research. That figure equates to 22,000 people per square kilometre, about 50 per cent more than next-in-line Pyrmont, and has some wondering if the city’s infrastructure can keep up with Green Square growth.
Critics have pointed to delays in the building of schools and roads, and Lord Mayor Clover Moore said that the new research has highlighted the accelerated pace of development and the urgent need for new schools as well as transport to service the area.
According to Cr Moore, the city has allocated funds for a variety of infrastructure projects, including “more than $540 million in roads, stormwater, footpaths, street furniture and community facilities including childcare, a new library and plaza, new parks and playgrounds, an aquatic centre, affordable housing and creative spaces.”
State government, however, has not kept up with infrastructure planning and funding, she said. “The NSW Government has not allocated funding or revealed where the local primary and high schools will be located for the children of the tens of thousands of new residents in Green Square.”
A light rail line may also be part of the mix, as New South Wales minister for transport, Andrew Constance, has now indicated support for such a project. Speaking in July at Sydney University, Mr Constance said, "I'm very keen on seeing light rail go to Green Square.” His predecessor had opposed the project.
Lord Mayor Moore said the city has been working on a light-rail project. “With worsening traffic congestion there’s an urgent need for mass transit, which is why I’m pleased the Transport Minister has recognised a light rail line is needed.”
“We’ve also provided $40 million to secure most of a transport corridor for light rail and we are now working with Transport NSW to assess funding models and route options to progress the development of this urgently needed network.
Cr Moore noted, in a report to Council, “The population of the Green Square area, which is already 18,000, is booming and there are nearly 10,000 apartments due for completion over the next four years”.
Patronage of a new light-rail line in the area is projected to be high, Cr Moore added, according to a ridership study. “The City also commissioned a review of likely patronage of Green Square Light Rail,” Cr Moore wrote, “which confirmed that the route is a viable light rail corridor with likely patronage exceeding 3,000 passengers per hour on approach to Central Station.
The Green Square project comprises an urban renewal area of 278 hectares, with 14 hectares allotted to the Town Centre. New public infrastructure will consume 51.6 hectares, roads will require 34 hectares, and open space is given 14.7 hectares. Total infrastructure costs amount to $1.3 billion of the $13 billion project.
Green Square’s growing population projection stems partly from the city’s Design Excellence Program, which aims to highlight the city’s commitment to superior design. The program requires projects more than 55 metres high or 1500 square metres to participate in a design competition, with winners allowed to build an additional 10 per cent more floor space.