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SSC Newspaper : June 2010
8 Strathfeld Scene "Congrats to the suburb on achieving this milestone” – Robbie Farah, Captain of West Tigers THE BIG ISSUE By Ma Khoury YOUR SAY Tell us your problems and experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org Flying over Strath eld, you might mistake it for two di erent suburbs. One, an a uent neighbourhood strewn with mansions on unusually large plots for an area so close to the CBD. e other, an enclave of high-rise apartment blocks a few hundred metres from a railway hub. If you were si ing in the o ces of Strath eld Council's planning department, this picture would distil the dilemma facing our 125-year-old municipality: with a rapidly growing population, how do you house newcomers while maintaining the character of a unique part of Sydney? Strath eld has traditionally been anti- development. A powerful community lobby kept ats below ve storeys right up to 1969. Today, there is a new reality. Sydney is growing faster than State Government planners can cope with, so they need to bring municipalities such as Strath eld into line. e planners' weapon: Section 3A of the Environmental, Planning and Assessment Act, which allows the NSW Government to impose population growth -- and responsibility for the housing and infrastructure to match -- on popular parts of a crowded metropolis. NSW Planning, according to its City of Cities: A Plan for Sydney's Future, is struggling to accommodate a city with a population topping 6 million within a generation. is requires 770,000 additional homes. Strath eld Council's Local Environment Plan needs to include 8,300 new dwellings by 2031. It will be on exhibition to local residents before being submi ed to NSW Planning and will need the go-ahead from the State Government before being gaze ed. Local councils will lose planning power to permit this to work. On a federal level, the Council of Australian Governments wants to create "nationally consistent principles for housing development infrastructure" to facilitate a faster housing market response to population growth. As Strath eld Mayor Tony Maroun says: " ere's a lot of pressure on councils to accommodate the population. "Some areas of Strath eld will remain unzoned and it's always on my agenda to protect them. e golden mile will never be touched -- that's what makes Strath eld the 'jewel of the west'." But that still leaves the necessity to meet a housing target imposed on Strath eld by the State Government. Councillor Maroun concedes that living in high-rises is "not as nice a life as living in other Strath eld areas", but accepts it as necessary to satisfy housing demand. e people of NSW are worried. Research Strath eld's planning dilemma: Can Strath eld maintain its unique character? conducted by TNS Global shows that a majority in NSW don't "feel good" about the e ects of development on their quality of life, with 91 per cent saying tra c and parking would increase noise and 89 per cent being concerned about air pollution. Another 86 per cent believe housing a ordability and availability will worsen. None of these ndings comes as a surprise, but at least they signal an undercurrent of concern that politicians are going to have to cope with as they try to sell a future of increasing population growth and development. City Futures Research Centre director Bill Randolph tells e Strath eld Scene: " e view is that Parrama a Road has existing transport and therefore can accommodate more dwellings, but that doesn't make it a nice place to live. "Strath eld Council has a potential problem on its hands through poor management and a low investment in new housing." In a submission to Planning NSW Randolph suggested independent agencies could oversee increasing high-density development and partnerships between the community, stakeholders and council. is should not be top-down governance by one agency but a unique body, such as the "Parrama a Road Development Corporation". But Housing NSW classi es Strath eld as having a "high housing need". For migrants, it has become a place to be. Just seven square kilometres, it has 18 parks covering nearly 8 per cent of the land with 12 schools and two childcare centres. Households are mainly couples with children and 61 per cent of homes are owner- occupied, up by 2 per cent since 2006. According to rpdata, a company that monitors Sydney property, the median sale price of houses in the rst quarter was $1.12 million. e changing face of Strath eld and its transient population is spelt out in ABS statistics: 14.4 per cent of residents had a di erent address a year ago while 37.5 per cent had a di erent address ve years ago. e gures show that 27.8 per cent of all occupied dwellings are rentals. Over half of these are in "housing stress" -- that is, paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, largely as a result of low supply. e president of the Flemington Chamber of Commerce, Dr David Tang, says new apartment blocks are necessary to accommodate the in ux of Vietnamese, Indian and Sri Lankan immigrants to the area. "A lot of apartments going up and more population is more business for everyone," Dr Tang said. "It's good for the area as long as we have the "I've worked 20 years on the garden," says Lynne Gullifa, "so there's sadness in leaving. I'm having trouble le ing go." But at 57 the empty nester is a er a tree change, leaving the Federation co age on the corner of Homebush Road and moving to Bowral, a racted by its arts community and a quieter, simpler life. "I came here for the children's education," she says. Her daughter a ended Santa Sabina, and her son St Pats. Now her husband has le , her children have moved out and are in the workforce, so she's beginning a new adventure. "Change is good," she says. What is true for Gullifa goes for Strath eld. "Some older Strath eld types don't like its changing nature, but I've always got along with my neighbours," she says. " e Asian community brings its culture and food. " ey're coming here for the same reason I did: it's central, has wonderful schools and is safe." For that reason, she says, any time's a good time to sell in Strath eld. She bought her house for $462,500. It sold at auction a week ago for $1.66 million. As for her garden, she is philosophical: "I can love another one, too," she says. Charlie Chang's wife speaks only Mandarin, but her son and daughter acted as interpreters before the auction of the house they bought last month. A er bidders assembled in the front garden of the Mintaro Street home the contest soon came down to an Indian man and Chang. He calmly bid $2.56 million for the recently built luxury home and when the hammer came down, his children jumped and cheered and his wife cried. "Strath eld is desirable," Chang says. "It's a good real estate environment. e houses and land are big." He says his family will enjoy the community here, and the restaurants. "But the main reason [we bought] is for our children. My son goes to Trinity and my daughter to Meriden. It takes half an hour to drive them to school from our home in Beverley Park. It's a lot more convenient here, only ve minutes away." He will commute to his Rosebery factory to run the wholesale import business he has developed since migrating from Shanghai 24 years ago. District real estate agents say his pro le is typical of a buyer's market dominated by middle classes from all corners of Asia. SELLER BUYER Tree change for empty nester Winning bid for a new life June 2010