More than two-thirds of people believe Sydney is full and property development should be pushed to the fringes, new polling shows, amid simmering tensions within communities and the Berejiklian government over the issue.
With plans for hundreds of thousands of apartments in the city’s “priority precincts” over the next 20 years, the ReachTel poll conducted for Fairfax Media shows 66.4 per cent of NSW residents oppose more development in existing areas to accommodate a bigger population.
It finds 22.8 per cent support more development in existing areas because Sydney is growing and 10.7 per cent are undecided.
Significantly for the Coalition government, 61.7 per cent of Liberal supporters believe Sydney is full, 28 per cent are in favour of more development and 10.4 per cent are undecided.
Of Labor voters, 68 per cent are opposed to more development in existing areas, 17.8 per cent are in favour and 14.1 per cent are undecided.
The results will fuel tensions over the Greater Sydney Commission’s plans, spilling into the upper echelons of the NSW government.
Cabinet colleagues Corrections Minister David Elliott and Planning Minister Anthony Roberts have fallen out over consultation on plans to add 7700 homes in Mr Elliott’s seat of Baulkham Hills in north-west Sydney.
Fairfax Media revealed last month that then deputy mayor of Ryde Jane Stott said she felt “threatened and intimidated” by Finance Minister Victor Dominello after he told her and then Ryde mayor Bill Pickering he could not support their preselections if they voted in favour of a 1400-apartment development he opposed.
Mr Dominello, the member for Ryde, has denied doing anything wrong, arguing he was standing up for his community in the face of overdevelopment.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet John Sidoti has criticised development plans in his seat of Drummoyne.
Days after he stood alongside Mr Roberts at a media conference to launch the feedback process for a plan to add 3600 homes at Rhodes East, Mr Sidoti said he believed it should be “totally abandoned”.
The Greater Sydney Commission, established last year to lead on planning and development issues and chaired by former Sydney lord mayor Lucy Turnbull, says the city will need about 725,000 extra homes over the next 20 years to accommodate a growing and ageing population.
Sydney’s population is expected to grow by about 1.74 million people by 2036.
It says that, even without further population growth, an additional 140,000 homes will be needed in this period due to the anticipated fall in the size of the average home as the ageing population of “empty nesters” and singles boosts demand.
The top five local government areas due to bear the brunt of the development over the next five years are Parramatta (21,450), Sydney (18,250), Blacktown (13,600), Canterbury-Bankstown (12,200) and Camden (11,800).
On Sunday, a spokesman for Mr Roberts said the NSW government “is committed to providing homes for Sydney’s growing population, but with careful consideration for maintaining local character”.
“It is thanks to Labor and the ‘Sydney is full’ mentality that the Coalition government inherited a 100,000 dwelling shortage in Sydney,” he said.
The spokesman said the population was increasing because people were living longer, more children were being born and more people were moving to NSW due to it having an economy that was “the best in Australia”.
“The government’s priority growth areas and priority precincts are being strategically developed to recognise local character, deliver more open and active recreation space and create employment opportunities at the same time as delivering the increased types of housing our city needs,” he said.
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