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SSC Newspaper : JUNE 2012
20 Strathfield Scene By Bernadette Chua and Peter Lynch It's one of the most hated highways in Australia, defying every a empt to unclog its tra c ow and bring some life to the land on its borders. Now Homebush is the unlikely guinea pig for a massive new development that could be the forerunner of a new a empt to breathe new life into the Parrama a Road. e aim: to make it a desirable residential destination. When plans were rst made public for the proposed development of two 32-storey towers, a 20-storey block and a huge 780-space car park last month by site-owners Orotone, the sheer scale of the project took everyone, including Strath eld Council, by surprise. It would cost $200 million to build. ere would be 660 apartments as well as 728sqm of retail and restaurant space. Currently, there's not much more than a grass eld and an iconic art deco theatre frontage on the site at 55-67 Parrama a Road. It looks an incongruous place for such a huge new residential community. e buildings surrounding it are tired and badly in need of a new lease of life. Many of the shops and restaurants are up for lease. ere is li le doubt that this development would make a dramatic change, should it get the go-ahead. And not just to Homebush. Sources told the Scene to take a look at the land registry. Upon doing so, it quickly became clear that many of the car yards and leasehold businesses along the Parrama a Road are owned by entities involved in property development. is means that -- if this development gets the go-ahead -- we can expect a rush of similar applications. at's why the decision here is so important: it's being watched by some of Australia's biggest residential developers. us far, any debate surrounding the development has been muted. Some didn't even notice the public display at Strath eld Council. Others told the Scene they hadn't received any noti cation about it. Nonetheless, it has divided the area. ose living nearby say they're surprised there haven't been protests similar to those which greeted the expansion plans of the Australian Catholic University. ey question the wisdom of allowing another 700-plus cars to spill out onto a highway that already o en resembles a parking lot during the morning and evening rush hours. But others say the redevelopment of the area along the fringes of Parrama a Road is long overdue. Which is be er, they ask: an urban wasteland lled with car yards and vacant lots or a residential development which could revitalise the area? "Love it," was the response of local state MP Charles Casuscelli, although the development is not in his seat. "I am a pro-development MP and this will provide housing for Sydney's growing population." Marlene Doran, who has been a resident of Homebush for over 50 years and is standing in the council elections in September to defend the identity of Strath eld against amalgamation, says there is a need for more housing -- but not 32 storeys worth. " e area around the old Homebush eatre use to be bustling and full of businesses," she says. "Maybe pu ing apartment blocks in the space would bring some life back to this part of the municipality, but it has to be at reasonable heights. " e site will completely swamp the area and this particular section of Parrama a Road is already incredibly congested. By pu ing an additional 780 car spaces, this will cause havoc on an already busy road." e proposed 32-storey apartment block is well in excess of the 12 storey ceiling imposed by the municipality's current environmental plan, though it is in keeping with the council's intent to create new housing and retail on the edge of the road. But Strath eld Council is not the decision- making authority here. Developments in excess of $20 million are sent to Joint Regional Planning Panels, usually comprising ve people. In this instance, two of them will be from Strath eld -- one from the council's technical ser vices department, the other a councillor. Strath eld Council will, a er a three-week public consultation exercise, submit a report to the panel with their own recommendations. It is extremely likely they will oppose the development. But the panel does not have to follow their recommendations. For a council charged with nding more than 8000 new homes in the next decade, reaching for the skies is an obvious solution and has the bene t of reinvigorating an area that has become something of an eyesore. So the developers (at press time, the Scene was not able to con rm who they were) appear to be concentrating their repower on a presentation to the panel. e Scene put in several calls to Orotone's o ces to speak to the directors. None of them returned our calls by press time. Sean Macken, Director of ink Planning and one of the town planners involved in the development, says this site will be the forerunner for other medium-density developments to bring life to the area. " We are planning a landmark which will be a gateway building for Strath eld and the Parrama a Road corridor," he says. "While it will not be the tallest building in the inner west, we believe there is a demand for high quality, medium density housing. " is project is one such opportunity for Strath eld Council, Sydney and NSW. It is a real opportunity to shine and to take another step towards becoming a great city." e architect behind the proposed development, Richard Huxley, says his design of the towers is to maximise the space available and to create a brand new village in the Strath eld municipality. " is part of Parrama a Road has long struggled and has been allowed to run down," he says. "Past state government-led strategies along the corridor have failed to facilitate the much-needed redevelopment and renewal within the precinct. JUNE 2012 LIFE CITY IN THE SKY Is this the future for housing in Homebush? e Scene investigates... e projected graphic of the proposed development (the man sits in a space that will be reserved for public art).