A long-awaited multi-billion dollar plan to transform western Sydney as it faces a future of explosive population growth has been signed by three levels of government.
The Western Sydney City Deal was officially unveiled by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and eight local councils at the Werrington Park Corporate Centre on Sunday morning.
Mr Turnbull says the deal would mean infrastructure installed ahead of the challenges, not after.
“For too long we’ve been allowing development to proceed in a relatively unplanned way. And then people say ‘oh dear we don’t have the infrastructure we need, we don’t have the rail we need, we don’t have the opportunities and jobs we need,” he said.
“Well no longer, this is a different approach.”
Western Sydney, with a present population of about two million people, is expected to add another million people by the early 2030s, a scoping study released with the plan reveals.
Transport woes plague the region, due to a lack of connectivity on train lines and congested roads, the report’s researchers found.
About 300,000 of the region’s residents are forced to commute outside of western Sydney for work.
The as-yet-to-be built Western Sydney Airport is at the heart of the plan, Mr Turnbull said, adding it would be the catalyst for 200,000 new jobs.
Federal and NSW governments have committed to fund the North-South rail link, from St Marys to Badgerys Creek via the new airport, 50-50.
The first $100 million will be used to create a business case process to, with the help of local governments, investigate extending the link from Schofields to Macarthur.
It will also help plan the South West Rail Link from Leppington to the airport.
The premier and prime minister committed to having the line connected by the time the airport opens.
The City Deal will also deliver a research and manufacturing hub known as the aerotropolis, an investment attraction office to drum up business interest in the region, a more efficient planning regime, a $150 million livability program to deliver community facilities, education facilities for the aerotropolis and embedded digital technology in the city.
The livability program will see councils able to begin work on “wishlist” items like parks, playgrounds, libraries, sportsgrounds and heritage projects this year.
The Sydney Business Chamber said the “landmark move” would trigger a private investment “gold rush” in the region.
The chamber’s Western Sydney director David Borger also urged the government to stick to their planned delivery of the Metro West rail link between Parramatta and Sydney CBD.
“Metro West is needed if we are to truly create the 30-minute city and deal with the massive overcrowding on the Western line,” he said.