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SSC Newspaper : May 2012
there is an exciting array of choices. Which is why many of our near neighbours, struggling with financial and other woes, are looking enviously over our borders and wondering how they can harness an economic surplus and valuable land bank to their own municipalities. * The Community Strategic Plan is on public exhibition until May 25. See it at www.strathfield2025. com.au and complete a feedback survey. Residents can still send in their submissions before the report is finalised. By Sarah Macklin and Peter Lynch S trathfield has just completed one of the biggest consultation exercises in its history. Residents, workers, students and business owners were asked what they want their neighbourhood to be in the run-up to 2025. They were urged to see the bigger picture, and not be afraid to talk about all aspects of life, not just the “three Rs”: roads, rates and rubbish. They did so with a will. One significant message that came through loud and clear was that we have been selling ourselves short for far too many years. In its report, entitled Strathfield 2025, Strathfield Council spells out how it intends to enact the wishes of the people. It aims to ensure that development is sustainable, fair, and protects people’s rights and wellbeing. Strathfield is an area on the move, with a bold vision and a bright future. The problem is that, up to now at least, we have been too polite to say it. The recent announcement that the council intends to seek city status is, perhaps, the first manifestation of a drive to bring people’s perceptions of Strathfield up to date. Why is this important? Two key drivers have provided the momentum for this change. Firstly, Strathfield has the largest commercial land bank in the inner west, and is eager to add to its reputation as an economic powerhouse by developing it. Along with the town centre plan, that means billions of dollars of new investment needs to be attracted. Secondly, rumours of amalgamation – happily fanned by certain neighbouring municipalities with, perhaps, less attractive economic potential – continue to swirl around local government. In any possible partnership, it is important that Strathfield’s reputation as a strong economic manager be seen as a reason why it should be firmly in the driving seat. The argument is amply spelled out in the council’s 2025 report. The area is culturally diverse, well-served by buses and trains, and an important business hub, providing 19,329 jobs. “According to the State Government, 57 percent of the inner west’s total employment land is located in Strathfield, compared to less than 5 percent in neighbouring local government areas,” says the 2025 report. Key industries include manufacturing, electricity, gas, water and waste ser vices, wholesale and retail trade, and transport. And the council is determined to show it is business friendly. “Council will support local business development programs and streamline and improve regulatory systems and compliance management.” Strathfield is not just a business hub. It is also known as the education centre of the inner west, with a large number of the best schools, both public and private. It has more parks and open spaces per head than any other council in the inner west. And it is determinedly working to find solutions to the transport and traffic congestion problems which plague the entire inner west, and which were noted by residents as key concerns during the consultation process. “As a result, council will review and investigate ways to reduce traffic congestion to and from Strathfield,” says the 2025 report. “Although most transport infrastructure is controlled by state government, council can play an important role through rep- resentations to improve access, frequency and coverage of public transport ser vices.” New technology will also help improve access to council services and Strathfield Library digital ser vices, the report says. Safety and crime prevention were also seen as a priority. “Safe, clean, healthy and attractive environments are important to the Strathfield community. Council will protect and improve the amenity and character of streetscapes and take action on graffiti and vandalism,” says the report. “ Waste management and associated issues of illegal dumping, pollution, recycling and waste reduction are all key council ser vices.” The consultation process brought considerable contact between the people and council. It was a learning process on both sides. People wanted more community and recreation programs. On Strathfield Scene 9 www.ourstrathfield.com.au the big issue who was consulted? stand up for the real strathfield I ❤ CIty of StrathfIeld planning, the council says changing lifestyles and population pressures mean that careful design is critical to maintain Strathfield’s character and liveability. “More residents are living in medium to high-density units. It is important to ensure that these developments are well planned and ser viced by local infrastructure,” says the council. Critical to all these outcomes is responsible leadership, says Strathfield 2025, which pledges to deliver strategic leadership, effective projects and quality customer services. Progress will be monitored by a broad range of performance in- dicators. But a bigger test than those is in the wind. Strathfield goes to the polls in September. Electors will have the chance to vote not just on candidates for council, but on the kind of Strathfield they want to see in the coming two decades and more. At least All homes in Strathfield were sent a community survey in November last year, receiving nearly 2,000 responses. Community meetings, interviews and focus groups totaled 247 hours, with 49 face-to-face sessions with schools, businesses and community groups. More than 75 submissions were made by individuals and organisations. Council’s documents, surveys and studies were reviewed to compile the report. And a three-month analysis of all the data was drawn up to develop the strategic plan. Strathfield is an area on the move, with a bold vision and a bright future.