NSW Treasurer speaking notes – Bays summit

These are the prepared notes for a speech by then-NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance at the Bays Precinct International Summit on 19–20 November 2014.

Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Thank you to the Premier; my colleague, the Minister for Planning, Pru Goward; John Brogden, Chair of UrbanGrowth NSW; and David Pitchford, Chief Executive, for the opportunity to open this summit.

Welcome in particular to our guests who Pru Goward has described as ‘celebrity city builders’.  We are privileged to be able to draw on your internationally renowned experience in urban renewal to generate ideas for the redevelopment of the Bays Precinct.

After three years of hard work, the New South Wales Government has repaired the foundations of our economy and introduced much needed budgetary discipline.

While we have been bringing our expenses under control we have not neglected the need for new spending on vital infrastructure. In the recent budget we announced a $61.5 billion spend, over the next four years on productive infrastructure projects. These will modernise, de-congest and renovate the State.

New housing supply in NSW is at levels not seen for many years, with almost 47,000 house starts last financial year.

The North-west and South-west growth areas are being supported by significant new infrastructure, such as the North-West Rail Link, the South-West Rail Link, and the M5 widening.

However, not all new residential supply can or should be in greenfield areas.

There is a strong need to also unlock urban sites for redevelopment and urban renewal.

Infill development maximises the use of existing infrastructure and transport, schools and community facilities.  For sites such as the Bays Precinct, it also provides the opportunity for the community to benefit from the revitalisation of world-class locations that have been neglected for too long.

This Government has formed the view that the market can deal effectively with greenfield and retail property development, and that is why we have refocussed the operations of the former Landcom into UrbanGrowth NSW.

UrbanGrowth exists to create the conditions that enable industry to deliver an increased and efficient supply of housing in NSW.

The primary role of UrbanGrowth is to lead development of key urban renewal site such as the Bays precinct. 

It is working with Government agencies and the private sector to bring together parcels of land to create cohesive development precincts.

The Bays Precinct is an exciting element of the NSW Government’s Major Urban Renewal Portfolio (MURP).

MURP is a pipeline of complex, large-scale urban transformation programs that provide infrastructure, housing, jobs, and economic and social benefits that support the Government’s broader objectives for the State.

UrbanGrowth is delivering the Government’s urban renewal mandate through:

  • consolidating fragmented land
  • accessing surplus government land
  • assisting to provide infrastructure for new housing
  • adding value through rezoning, master-planning and super lotting
  • wholesaling land into the market de-risked and ready for housing. 

This forum brings together the best local and international expertise to assist the State in what is among the largest urban transformations in Australian history.

I believe we can achieve a great outcome for the people of Sydney, while setting a new benchmark for regeneration of this iconic region.

This is yet another example of how we are rebuilding our State and getting on with the job of transforming NSW.

The role of local government

Of course, local governments are key players in urban renewal. 

This year’s budget is providing more than $60 million to local governments to deliver essential infrastructure to support new housing development.

Renewal precincts often span a number of local government areas and the ability to engage effectively with local councils with a shared vision is crucial to timely and successful renewal projects.

This is why the State Government has launched its ‘Fit for the Future’ program.  This provides generous financial incentives from a $1 billion package for councils to implement structural change.

I won’t be drawn on what might be the ‘right’ number of local governments, but what is clear is that consolidation is required if we are to deliver the housing, jobs and local infrastructure that our communities need.

The Bays Precinct Urban Renewal Program

The revitalisation of the Bays Precinct is a potential game changer for Sydney and the State of New South Wales.

At the moment we have a fragmented and under-utilised urban region that is four times the size of Barangaroo sitting right next to the world’s greatest harbour front.

The Precinct’s great heritage values, proximity to the city and waterfront positions present exciting new opportunities for entertainment and leisure facilities, as well as residential, retail and commercial development.

Public access is also a key consideration, with the objective to have a continuous foreshore walk around the entire Bays Precinct. As the urban renewal of waterfront land continues, the foreshore will be progressively opened up to public access and, where appropriate, new larger waterfront open spaces will also be created.

The site is ideally located to take advantage of existing infrastructure such as the Inner West Light Rail line, and new infrastructure like the Westconnex motorway project, which will link the region with the M4 Motorway, the inner west and the M5.

Creation of Jobs

The State is committed to restoring economic growth, through facilitating job growth and establishing NSW as the first place in Australia to do business.

The Bays Precinct will draw upon the traditional uses of the area, as well as the waterfront location and strong heritage values to create new job, investment and renewal opportunities.

The result will be a mix of open space and public realm, commercial, retail and residential to boost jobs and accommodate Sydney’s expanding population.

NSW Housing Market

Another key priority of the NSW Government is to continue to boost the supply of homes to help meet demand and improve housing affordability.

Under this Government’s leadership, the economy is growing and construction is booming. The population is forecast to grow by two million people in NSW by 2031, which makes it critical that forums such as this are undertaken to keep NSW number one.

The Bays Precinct Urban Renewal is expected to create approximately 16,000 dwellings for the State.

Like the Bays Precinct, these projects are a critical enabler for supporting economic growth and improving access to services, while at the same time maintaining our strong financial position and our commitment to keeping the State’s AAA-credit rating.

Financing of Major Urban Transformation Projects

By involving the community, drawing upon the State’s experience and everyone’s expertise here over the next three days, we plan to stimulate innovating thinking around structuring, procurement and financing.

Through initiatives such as the long-term lease of the state’s ports, the sale of the generators, and the proposed long-term lease of ‘poles and wires’, this Government is actively recycling capital to deliver important infrastructure and maintain the State’s AAA-credit rating.

The NSW Government welcomes private sector involvement in major urban transformation projects such as the Bays Precinct.

All developments such as the Bays Precinct need to make economic and financial sense in their own right:

  • it is essential that UrbanGrowth captures a fair return on the value of the Government’s land assets and commensurate with their development potential; and
  • projects must deliver an overall economic benefit to the people of NSW. 

Drawing on local and international expertise

I commend UrbanGrowth on presiding over this innovative planning forum.

Through drawing together so many highly respected planners and innovators from Europe, the United Kingdom, North America and Asia, we are able to demonstrate the openness to new ideas, and outwards-looking vision that are the hallmarks of a true global city.

With your active engagement today, we hope to take on board your expertise to produce an achievable, feasible and exciting strategy to transform the Bays Precinct, into a precinct of world class status.

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Page last updated: 16 Nov 2018