This large meeting was in two parts. In the first, Bob Meyer AM, winner of the Sidney Luker Medal for Town Planning, pointed out that the first Sydney Plan, the County of Cumberland (1948), underestimated Sydney’s growth because of the post war baby-boom and surge in immigration, and the second, Sydney Metropolitan Plan (1968) overestimated growth because the size of households dropped from over three per dwelling to just over two. Hence we needed to review Sydney plans every five years.
He gave three possible models for the future of Sydney: Compact City, where we continue along current lines; Lowest Density, where we fill in the gaps; and Decentralisation, where we connect Sydney to surrounding cities by trains travelling up to 200 km/hr (about 40 km/hr faster than the current double deckers can achieve). He favoured the last.
Prof. Anna Yeatman from the Whitlam Institute (Western Sydney University) then gave her analysis of what was wrong with the present planning situation, and this dominated the remainder of the day’s discussion.
Strategic decisions were currently made solely for economic reasons, mostly very short term. The decisions were made in conjunction with developers prior to public consultation, and therefore tended to be faites accomplis. The legislation needed revision, because it failed to include any reference to climate change, or recent assessment of the consequences for the environment. Consequently the decisions were seriously deficient and the consultation tokenistic. The draft legislation drawn up last year by the Better Planning Network would overcome these problems.