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Land freed for mass renewal

Large swathes of land have been unlocked for apartment development in Sydney and Newcastle, as the state government pushes for urban renewal reports Rebecca Thistleton on page 6 of the Australian Financial Review of 8 March 2014.

Development: Housing for up to 150,000 planned

Large swathes of land have been unlocked for apartment development in Sydney and Newcastle, as the state government pushes for urban renewal.

On Saturday, NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard will announce five urban renewal areas that will yield more than 60,000 dwellings to house more than 150,000 people and create 45,000 jobs.

Planning is under way for six parcels of land around the Eveleigh rail yards in the inner west, at Green Square near Sydney Airport, Parramatta North and in Newcastle.

There are no set timelines but development will be staged after master planning, depending on location.

Land has also been identified around the new WestConnex road link between Parramatta and the city.

A draft plan on this development is expected to be put to cabinet in April and released for public comment in the middle of the year.

Mr Hazzard said the projects would deliver up to $65 billion in gross regional product and marked the start of a new pipeline of land.

The state's. land agency, Urban Growth, has been charged with identifying more surplus government land suitable for redevelopment, its chief executive David Pitchford said.

'We will be looking around rail yards and transport corridors for opportunities; with smart design we can accommodate a lot of people in these areas. This will excite the hell out of the architecture industry," he said.

JLL valuation and advisory director Bill Fatouros said inner city site prices leapt15 per cent to 20 per cent between 2012 and 2013 off the back of strong demand and were still growing. Residential development was now regarded as the best use for inner city property.

"For now, there is a perception there is endless demand for apartments," Mr Fatouros said.

He said sites around Eveleigh and Green Square would spark developer interest because planning was under way and infrastructure was in place.

NSW Property Council executive director Glenn Byres said the release was a smart move for Urban Growth, which would be able to use its muscle and balance sheet to drive inner-urban growth and infrastructure.

"We're finally starting to move towards unlocking land, we're watching more and more people move towards medium density and apartment living. Sydney's population is 4 million-plus — we need this if Sydney is going to work.

Urban Growth plans to move away from greenfield development and focus on urban renewal. The agencywill exit the greenfield market by 2016.

"We will no longer be a direct competitor to the private development market," Mr Pitchford said.

"Nothing has been done in Sydney on this scale before; this is bigger than Barangaroo, bigger than Melbourne's Docklands," he said.

Sydney's apartment market has ballooned over the past year and projects are selling out within hours of release and attracting high prices.

Charter Keck Cramer figures showed 14,595 units were under construction at the end of 2013 year and 24,525 had been approved. In contrast, when Melbourne approvals peaked at 25,217 in 2010-11, Sydney recorded 8614 approvals.

Urban Growth has not yet determined how the land will be sold. Mr Pitchford said some would be sold in packaged parcels and some developed in partnership with the agency.

Photo: Planning Minister Brad Hazzard, middle, and Urban Growth's John Brogden, left, and David Pitchford, say the project will excite industry. PHOTO: DOMINIC LORRIMER