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SMDA Evidence to Inquiry into Utilisation of Rail Corridors

Below is the proof transcript of Evidence given by SMDA CEO Roy Wakelin-King top the Committee on Transport and Infrastructure Inquiry into Utilisation of Rail Corridors on 28 May 2012. It deals primarily with the operations of the SMDA and not with issues related to Redfern Station.



At Sydney on Monday 28 May 2012
The Committee met at 10.00 a.m.
Mr C. Casuscelli (Chair)
Mr T. F. Owen
Mr P. L. Toole
Conditions of Distribution
This is a partially corrected proof of evidence taken before the Committee. It is made available under the condition that it is recognised as such.

CHAIR: I declare the hearing open. This public hearing is being conducted as part of the Committee on Transport and Infrastructure's inquiry into the utilisation of rail corridors and adjacent land.
ROY WAKELIN‐KING, Chief Executive Officer, Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, sworn and examined:
CHAIR: I welcome Roy Wakelin‐King, who is the chief executive of the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, and thank him for appearing before the Committee to give evidence. Can you please confirm that you have been issued with a copy of the inquiry's terms of reference and the relevant Legislative Assembly standing orders relating to the examination of witnesses?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Yes, I have.
CHAIR: I draw your attention to the fact that your evidence is given under parliamentary privilege and you are generally protected from legal or administrative action that might otherwise result in relation to the information that you provide. I should also point out that any deliberate misleading of the Committee may constitute a contempt of the Parliament and an offence under the Parliamentary Evidence Act 1901. Roy, would you like to make a brief opening statement?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Just very quickly, Chair. First of all, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee. Secondly, I hope that the information I will be able to provide will provide assistance to the Committee in terms of its findings and its deliberations. The Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority was established under the Growth Centres Act 1974. We are responsible for urban renewal in designated precincts. The precincts that we are currently responsible for are the Redfern‐Waterloo area and the Granville area of Sydney.
Our primary focus is to work in those precincts to bring about urban renewal and positive development to those precincts. In doing so, we work with a number of key stakeholders, principally the Department of Planning and Infrastructure and Transport for NSW, a wide‐ranging group of other stakeholders, including State and local government as well as also the private development sector and, very importantly, the communities within which we are doing that work. I look forward to hopefully making a contribution to your work.
CHAIR: The Committee understands that your focus actually has been on Redfern‐Waterloo and the Granville areas per se. Can you give us an update on what is actually happening in those areas—the prime focus of your organisation, given the development of those two areas, please?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Certainly, Chair. Firstly I will start with Redfern‐Waterloo. The Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority took responsibility for the former Redfern‐Waterloo Authority, which was established in 2005. We have been continuing the work that that authority has been doing. Principally that involves the renewal of the area through an integrated plan, which is known as the Redfern‐Waterloo Plan. It consists of three components: The built environment, human services, and enterprise and employment. In the built environment area, we have been looking at eight strategic sites ranging from North Everleigh, Australian Technology Park, the area of Everleigh and the Redfern town centre which is also known as The Block, in a key part of that area. We have also picked up some former sites that were owned by the State—the New South Wales Health Department, the former Rachel Forster Hospital—as well as also the former Redfern Public School, which has been redeveloped into the National Centre of the Indigenous Excellence.
Our work also involves, or did involve formerly in the Redfern‐Waterloo Authority, some human service and enterprise‐related activity, such as employment programs, and also bringing about reform in the human service delivery sector through collaboration and cooperation with key agencies in that area. The Sydney Metropolitan and Development Authority [SMDA] has taken a slightly high‐level view. We are now focusing more on planning and development. In particular we are looking at the development opportunities around the social housing precincts within the Redfern‐Waterloo area. We have a plan that is currently being developed. It already has been out on one round of public exhibition and hopefully will be exhibited subject to approval later this year for further consultation purposes. That is looking at renewing the social housing precincts, of which there are approximately 4,500 dwellings within the Redfern‐Waterloo area. One of our major activities is looking at bringing about renewal into that area—potentially increased densification and a social sustainable mix of dwellings and housing typology. That will be a major development that will occur over the next 10 to 20 years in Redfern‐Waterloo.
Moving to Granville—for the Granville precinct, our focus primarily has been on the auto alley precinct, which is Church Street and south of the Parramatta central business district [CBD].
The basis of that focus has been that the changing nature of the car retail industry that has resulted in underutilisation of land in the auto alley area. As I speak, we currently have on exhibition a draft urban renewal strategy for the auto alley area. That has been developed in collaboration and partnership with the two local government authorities involved in that area, the Parramatta City Council and the Holroyd City Council. That plan will be on exhibition at the next couple of weeks and then we will be taking into consideration any feedback we get from that plan and further developing the urban renewal plan, which we hope to take to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure on or around the middle of this year.
In that plan we are looking at the effective utilisation of that land as well as, obviously, opportunities for increased development and residential opportunity. There is a strong connection in all that we do in the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, both Redfern‐Waterloo and Granville, about its connections not only to the renewal of the area for which we are responsible, but connections to transport. A particular focus is obviously working with the Transport for NSW organisation to look at those opportunities where we can improve transport‐orientated development next to rail, or adjacent to or close to rail corridors, which is part of this work.
CHAIR: What I am hearing is you take a very top level view about the precincts from different perspectives. How much work do you do in identifying transit‐orientated development opportunities, that is, say, between 300 and 400 metres of a railway station? Let us take Redfern and Granville. Do you examine the opportunities for building structures or the infrastructure that makes use of the public transport infrastructure at those locations? Do you get involved in identifying the opportunities as well as priorities in the development of that space?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: We certainly focus on the opportunity and the connection with public transport. One of the key factors for our existence is to look at the opportunities for transportoriented development, to address some of the challenges that are well‐publicised in growth in the Sydney metropolitan area and beyond and, in particular, addressing challenges of congestion, population growth, climate change, et cetera, to bring about positive development and to make a positive contribution to those outcomes.
For example, in Redfern‐Waterloo a number of the developments we have been focused on for our planning work has been around includes north Eveleigh, which is a site close to Redfern station. We have looked at development and planning opportunities there and the former Redfern Waterloo Authority acted as a proponent to prepare a concept plan for that site which is for the effective utilisation of that site. On the other side of the tracks, for example, you have the Australian Technology Park, an important commercial centre for the development of the Redfern‐Waterloo area. Its close proximity to Redfern station is critical to the effective operation of that park and also it is a major attraction for employers going to that park. There is still a significant amount of land to be developed at the Australian Technology Park.
More broadly, we look at the residential opportunities and the connections to public transport. In Redfern‐Waterloo, because of its proximity to the central business district and dealing with opportunities for congestion, the opportunities for walking to and from public transport are key factors in the plans we consider. As mentioned earlier, that is also what we are looking at with the Auto Alley renewal plan. The connections in particular to Parramatta station and Harris Park station will be important considerations in the development of that plan.
Mr TIM OWEN: I note that Planning has pretty much identified three key urban design areas—Redfern‐Waterloo, Granville and the Newcastle central business district. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure basically has taken the Newcastle central business district renewal. I would have thought you would have had some interesting process to move through. I am trying to get a sense of why that was removed. Forget the name for a second; it would have made a lot of sense for one authority to look at all three key areas, I would have thought. Do you have any sense as to why that happened?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: I think the principal focus for us was to maintain our focus in the Sydney metropolitan area. That is not to say we do not work with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure on the activities it is doing in the Newcastle central business district. Obviously there are a lot of parallels and similar principles that need to be applied and adopted. A lot of reasons why renewal is required are consistent. But I think the key focus was for us to focus on the metropolitan area. The challenges of housing supply are quite critical in the metropolitan area so they wanted our authority be to be focused on that area. We do, as I indicated, share a lot of information and consult closely with the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. In fact, we get an understanding of what it is doing in Newcastle.
CHAIR: When you look at these opportunities around the areas—at the moment we are limited only to Redfern and Granville—does your capability extend to conducting a sophisticated analysis of value capture associated with the development of these areas?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: We have looked at issues such as value capture but we need to be conscious that we do that within the existing policy context about the funding of future development. Clearly, through increased opportunities there will be value created and as value returns to both State and local government and through a number of revenue streams. But value capture for us as an organisation is something we have not explicitly explored although we are aware there are models for value capture that could be considered in the future. But that is not the primary focus of what we do.
CHAIR: If I were looking at Granville and some parcels of land were owned by the State Government and some were owned by local government, and you also have the air space over the rail corridor and some adjacent land could be owned by any other State agency. Who identifies the opportunity in putting together a proposal or master plan that optimises the value of that space to benefit the community? Does someone look at that higher level and say, "We have to bring all this together because we have a good idea what to do with this"? Is that a role that your organisation has?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: It is a role that we play. We play it in the context of the precincts for which we are responsible. One of the key things we analyse when we are studying a precinct is that we look, for example, at surplus government land. Therefore we need—and I made the point in my opening remarks about our authority working with our State and local government authorities—to look at those opportunities through surplus government land as an example. In preparing our plans we need to take into consideration the availability of those lands for potential future development and, hence, we want to work closely with those landowners to see whether those opportunities can be realised. Consistent with the work we have done, both at the Redfern‐Waterloo Authority and potentially into the future as the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, either we can act as a proponent preparing master plans or concept plans, which is what we did, as described with the North Eveleigh site, or we can take a slightly higher level view where we develop or make recommendations to the department for the adjusting of planning controls, which then enables the private development industry to move in to realise the opportunity.
The strategic sites chosen for the Redfern‐Waterloo Authority, by way of example, were largely land that was surplus to the State. What we then looked at were the opportunities to bring about economic and social investment in the area to help bring about the renewal of Redfern‐Waterloo. That is what has practically happened. I mentioned the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence that was established at the site of the former Redfern Public School, which was surplus to requirements; and the community health centre on Redfern Street, which was formerly a courthouse and police station that was surplus to requirements and is now a community health centre. The other end of that example is the Redfern town centre, the area bounded by Gibbons Street and Regent Street, we have adjusted the planning controls and the private sector has come in, done the land assembly, acquired the sites and has started the development for those sites.
So the Redfern RSL site is now in its fit‐out stage and, I understand, will be due for completion at the end of this year, early next year. We have not actually gone in there, other than adjusted the planning controls and the development industry has responded to that because it has become more feasible; it has seen and realised the opportunity. To come back to the core of your question, in looking at our precincts and the opportunities for development we look at all surplus State lands and discuss with those agencies whether there is that opportunity to realise the future planning for those surplus government lands.
CHAIR: At the moment you are driven by the fact that someone has identified surplus land, but many government agencies now will tell anyone who wants to do something today that in 25, 30, 40 or 50 years "we may do something with that bit of land, therefore it is not surplus to requirement." Does your organisation push the envelope or essentially are you dictated by government agencies making their own determinations whether that land is surplus?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: In working with government agencies we understand their needs. A good example I think to hopefully draw this out and illustrate this is looking at what we did at south Eveleigh. South Eveleigh was a site adjacent to Australian Technology Park. It was originally contemplated that that site would be available for development, so we zoned it for mixed‐use development I think up to 12 storeys. Subsequent to that, RailCorp identified the need to retain that for future rail operational use into the foreseeable future. It is a rail maintenance facility. Its proximity to the Macdonaldtown stabling yards and also its maintenance and training facilities are important to the operation of the rail network. We have maintained a flexible approach in how we deal with that. I do not think it is a case of being dictated to. Clearly, we need to understand the requirements of the State agencies now and into the future for their land use requirements as we develop our plans.
We might zone a land for a particular use or increase the heights and densities in those particular areas, but the decision to actually realise that opportunity may be a future decision for that State agency where we are talking about land use. The process is what I would describe as consultative and where appropriate in collaboration as we have done with Health, Education and Rail. It depends on the stage and the cycle and the life of that asset in the precinct. In giving consideration to future precincts, availability of surplus State land is a key criteria, which clearly you need to have a look at because that may give rise to potential development opportunities,
particularly where they are within close proximity to public transport and particularly rail corridors. Does that help?
CHAIR: Yes, it does.
Mr TIM OWEN: It sort of answered my question because I wanted to get a sense of your relationship with a particular department. It is a strong consultative approach. You do not feel that you get dead‐ended anywhere?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: No, I do not think we get dead‐ended anywhere. The key thing of what we do is that from a starting disposition, not only with State agencies, but all agencies we deal with—local government is also a key organisation or stakeholder in this respect—from the outset we take a collaborative approach. We are trying to look for the win‐win, the opportunity. A good example would be with Parramatta City Council and the Granville town centre. It is looking for what opportunities may be realised in the longer term. It has landholdings there and we have had discussions with the council about that. We have not formed a view on that. That is still early stage, but there are those opportunities. I do not think I can recall that we have ever been dictated to by a particular agency. Clearly, we have to work within their constraints and we respect those constraints. But on the whole, my experience to date has been one where it has been largely collaborative and consultative.
Mr TIM OWEN: Do you have a remit that allows you to talk to the private sector? Do you work with the private sector even with financiers or developers? Can you bring a holistic view—for example, here might be a couple of opportunities from a private sector perspective and here might be some options for a financing approach? I suppose it comes down to the size of your staff, but do you have a remit that allows you to look across the piece?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Absolutely. Obviously, in all our engagements with the private sector there needs to be the bounds of appropriateness. Clearly, we are dealing with value with opportunities and investment. So from a probity perspective, a core value we have is clearly that we need to be beyond reproach in that respect. Having said that, we deal with the development industry associations in consulting with them particularly around deliverability. It is one thing to prepare a plan; it is another to see if the plan is going to be realised.
Mr TIM OWEN: Is it going to be developed.
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Yes, is it going to be realised. For example, where we take a plan into the public arena for consultation purposes, we then work proactively with a number of stakeholders. But, in this context, with the property development associations we look to work through them as representative of the development industry to brief them on what the proposal is about and, importantly, to get feedback from them as to whether it is deliverable. That is something we will do and will continue to do. We also do it, of course, with our partners at Landcom. Obviously, being the Government's developer, for want of a better term, it has a lot of experience in development and delivery. So we have the opportunity to engage with them as well. We are doing that as we speak on a number of projects for which we are responsible. The key is that the plan has to be deliverable at the end of the day and you cannot do that effectively without some form of market sounding. The key issue is that that market sounding has to be transparent and appropriate.
CHAIR: Has SMDA been involved in the delivery of any air space developments?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Not at this stage. We certainly have been discussing with Transport for NSW and RailCorp the potential opportunities around Redfern station, but that will be fairly lengthy. "Lengthy" is probably not the right term; that will be a complex process because it is a very critical part of the rail infrastructure. There are a lot of challenges around that. We have worked with them in terms of the RWA and SMDA on that opportunity. In terms of Harris Park and Parramatta stations, although Parramatta station has been the subject of recent development, relatively speaking, we would also look to engage with them on those opportunities, noting once again that it has to be feasible and meet their constraints as well.
CHAIR: If I had a vision for 300 metres up from Granville railway station a transit‐oriented development that comprised some socially affordable housing, some commercial mixed use, a long day care centre, a better bus‐rail interchange and perhaps some commuter car parking requiring me to go above the height limitations and I am utilising some adjacent land as well, who champions that vision?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: In the context of Granville and Granville station—
CHAIR: I only chose that because that is an area you are responsible for.
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Yes, being in the precinct for which we are responsible, I need to refer to my earlier remarks about how we are focussed on Auto Alley. I am not saying that we have dismissed the rest of Granville, but in that example we would take an active interest to look at its viability and feasibility. We would need to look at it also in the context of its affordability as to who will deliver that infrastructure, and to see whether it is a realistic option and possibility; and clearly, in the Granville rail station opportunities, to look at better improvement of connection between the rail and bus transport. Obviously, in looking at the surplus land around that area, I refer to my earlier comments about the Parramatta City Council because it owns some land in that area as well. We would look to work in a collaborative fashion if we were to form a view around that particular part of the precinct as a real opportunity for renewal.
CHAIR: Once you identify the opportunity what is the next step?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: From our perspective, we would undertake an urban renewal study and prepare a plan, if we felt that that was realistic and feasible. We would then take that to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure. In preparing that plan we need to go, obviously, through a series of processes and consult with, obviously in this context, Transport for NSW, RailCorp, Parramatta City Council and a range of other stakeholders. Once we get to that stage, similar to what we are doing with Auto Alley at the moment, we go out on a non‐statutory exhibition and get community and broader stakeholder feedback. Subject to approval of the board we would then take it to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure in accordance with the urban renewal SEPP to see whether the plan could be—

CHAIR: That sounds bureaucratic and time consuming. Let us go back. Who sells the proposition to the people who are going to supply the funding? Who champions it? Who generates the interest within the development and investment community? It seems to me that an opportunity is identified, we go through the bureaucratic process and put on exhibitions, but something is missing. It is the excitement that is generated by people with money saying, "This is a good thing and we want to get behind it", and who pressures the Government to come up with a reasonable outcome at the end of the process. What you are your views on that?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: The term "bureaucratic process"—
CHAIR: —I used that term loosely.
Mr TIM OWEN: He uses it in a good way.
CHAIR: We know we have to have bureaucratic processes.
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Respectfully Chair, the key is that that process is critical to building, if you like, the ability to champion the outcome. Although I acknowledge that it can take a bit of time, if sufficient rigor, study, analysis and engagement have been undertaken throughout that process, once that plan has been approved it enables, in the context of the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority [SMDA], formerly the Redfern Waterloo Authority, it then to become a champion of the renewal of that area. That is not necessarily to say that you are going to go out there and actively commercialise and promote the plan, but the plan is there. Clearly we want the plan to be delivered because the plan has been created for the purpose of enabling an outcome, which in our case may mean a number of outcomes—housing supply, renewal of the area, economic investment and social improvement. We become champions of the plan.
The reason why I focus on Redfern and Waterloo is that we have spent more time there. That is not to diminish our focus on Granville because we think there is great opportunity in the Granville and the Auto Alley area. We have become champions for the renewal of the Redfern‐Waterloo area. Where those plans would involve development near, on or around transport corridors, we would become champions for that purpose and we would then work actively with all the agencies involved to see that plan realised. There is no point in having a plan and it not being realised. North Eveleigh is a case in point, notwithstanding that the site is under review as a consequence of the transport master plan on foot. The intent of the Redfern Waterloo Authority was to take that site to the market. By default we became the champion because we were seeking to take that site into the marketplace. We were seeking for the market to respond and develop the site and for the proceeds of that sale and land to go back to the State for the purposes of reinvesting in the Redfern‐Waterloo area. It is our work, subject to the master plan process, which will make an important contribution to the renewal of the area. By default we become the champions of the plan. The rigor in the process, frustrating at times I acknowledge, is fundamentally important to creating the foundation of the deliverability of that plan.
CHAIR: If there is one thing that you would like to see addressed to make the effectiveness of your organisation greater than it is today, given the outcomes that need to be produced, what would it be?
Mr TIM OWEN: Anything?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: The key thing for the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority is we are a relatively new organisation. Historically we were focused on Redfern and Waterloo as the Redfern Waterloo Authority [RWA]. There is a process on foot. But in that context the resolution of North Eveleigh will be a significant catalyst for change in that area. It is land surplus to requirement.
That would be one thing at a micro level where we would look to see a key change for that area. In a broader sense, although the SMDA is relatively new, the key thing is our continued collaboration with our State agency colleagues and recognition by those colleagues—being a new agency we are building our capacity and our capabilities—to take a leadership role in those precincts for which we have responsibility. Once you get that credibility and recognition with a range of stakeholders, particularly State Government but also local government, that is a capacity value adding process to
the organisation. That only comes with time, experience and deliverability of the plans for which you have been responsible.
CHAIR: Let me highlight a problem you might have an answer for. In my electorate there are two areas crying out for attention. One is around the Ashfield railway station and the other one is Strathfield railway station. Strathfield railway station is the second largest railway station in New South Wales. Let me give you an example. At Ashfield there is very little community car parking. The bus‐rail interchange at Ashfield railway station is mediocre at best. In the past few months I have become aware that there are parcels of land owned by Roads and Maritime Services [RMS] and local government right next to the rail corridor. There is other adjacent land next to the rail corridor owned by RailCorp. RMS is doing what it is paid to do; which is to maximise the value of its investment and where there is surplus to requirements sell it off and get money for that land. Local government wants to build more parks. It has land between the Roads and Maritime Services land that it wants to put a park on.
No‐one has considered all the issues that need to be addressed from the community perspective: commuter car parking, bus‐rail interchange, affordable housing and long day care centres. There is an opportunity going begging there. Consolidation of the adjacent land owned by Roads and Maritime Services, local government and RailCorp would provide an opportunity that may come once in a generation to Ashfield. Why is it that I am the only person who sees the opportunity?
Local government, Roads and Maritime Services and RailCorp do not see the opportunity. I do not know any government agency that does see the opportunity. I can say the same thing for Strathfield.
There is a major development going on in Strathfield right now sitting between three major railway stations and no‐one sees the potential for transit‐oriented development. My question is: Do you have an opinion on how we can address that problem? Think of the Ashfield opportunity replicating itself 135 times throughout the Sydney metropolitan area.
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Looking into that issue, and having looked into the submissions and transcripts of previous witnesses, I think a theme has emerged that I would support from a personal perspective—a strategic approach to identifying those opportunities and identifying those challenges, in particular, in transport corridors and development adjacent to or over transport corridors that needs to be adopted. In principle everybody is supporting that. In relation to rail corridors I know it has been attempted previously but that was a number of years ago when the problems I spoke about earlier of congestion and population growth were not as acute as they are today. The opportunity exists for a strategic approach to be revisited. You could then look for and identify areas such as those you have described as being a potential opportunity and a value‐adding component to the renewal of a particular area.
The issue is: How do you take that strategic approach, who leads it, and then who implements it? From our perspective, as has been identified when they selected the two precincts for the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority, we clearly have a role to play in that. When a precinct is identified, as I indicated, we would look at all the opportunities that you have just described and see whether those opportunities could be (a) integrated and (b) realised; and in doing so, we would be able to engage across a range of stakeholders—land owners, and particularly where they were State or local government agencies.
CHAIR: When you say "we", who are you talking about?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: We being the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority. If it was a declared precinct, we would have the ability to do that, we would have the capability to do that and, importantly, that is part of our approach in what we do in looking at the precinct and looking at those opportunities. Now, whether it is an opportunity or not I cannot say because I do not know enough about the specifics; but, if the area is a declared precinct then we would clearly have a role in looking at that and seeing whether that is in fact an opportunity that can be converted into a plan that would be realisable.
Mr TIM OWEN: That is exactly the problem that we have in Newcastle. The person who is pushing it is one. That one person is engaging people to do design work—not engaging them in a financial sense but in a voluntary sense—bringing this to the table and bringing it all together. I find that is just not the way to do this in government. I know Planning is responsible, but I do not have a sense of how we are bringing it together and looking at that constructively.
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: From my observations and from experience, I think the opportunity is being presented through some of the structural reforms in the transport area, the focus on planning, and the vehicle through which the Sydney Metropolitan Development Authority has been created to look at precincts. Filtering down from the strategic view, we have an increased capacity to look at it in a strategic sense, and then being able to deliver it through to the operational sense. Ultimately the people who have to deliver this at the end of the day is the private sector, by and large, and so they have got to form a view that it is sufficiently viable for them to take the significant risk that there would be to undertake those sorts of developments.
CHAIR: Let me be cheeky. If I wanted half a dozen of these projects to happen concurrently, say there are 135 transport nodes potentially, and let us say only half of them make the cut in terms of all the variables that come into play to make it viable or not, and I believe that we should have half a dozen of these things going concurrently, what would it mean for your organisation if it now had to have a look at the opportunities that I have just described?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: If there were half a dozen areas, by default that would mean there would be half a dozen precincts that would have to be declared, and that would enable us to exercise our powers and functions. From our perspective, it would just mean that we would need to be sufficiently resourced and structured to respond to those requirements. So if we have got in this case six precincts, we would need to undertake the processes that I described earlier to look at those opportunities and those plans, and to undertake that work. Without wanting to grossly oversimplify it, it is a function of resources and capability to respond to that task. So, through your strategic analysis, if there were half a dozen top‐priority areas that government would want to see identified and delivered upon, then it would just be a case of ensuring that the resources are in place to actually respond to that need. Now, whether it is all our organisation, or our organisation and others, that would be a matter for government; and in the context of how we are tasked to looked at precincts, it is really through the urban renewal State Environmental Planning Policy and the Growth Centres Act. But it would be a function of resources and capability, and obviously we would play a role in that.
Mr PAUL TOOLE: I know you have the Director General of Planning and the Director General of Transport sitting on the board, so that is fairly important. But when you look at those opportunities you have also got council's local environment plans and you have State planning instruments and State planning controls, the urban State Environmental Planning Policy and so on.
When you look at and identify those opportunities, on occasions do you actually make recommendations that are outside some of those controls—say, that agencies need to look at spot rezonings to allow things to happen which should happen, but where certain instruments would be stopping that from occurring at all?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: We can do. We can make those recommendations if we feel that they are appropriate and warranted to realise the objectives of the plan. Ultimately, we would take that to the Director General of Planning. A key principle that we take is that if there can be an adjustment through the local environment plans, and councils are willing to do that, that would be a preferred outcome because that means there is close cooperation and collaboration as a reflection of that. But if it needs to be a State significant approach, obviously that is a matter that would need to be deferred through the director general to the Minister and ultimately through that State significant process. But we can make those recommendations if we feel that is warranted.
Mr PAUL TOOLE: That is good. I just did not want there to be an impediment, when it comes to looking at opportunities, because you have to stick within the existing local environment plans and controls that restrict certain things occurring.
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: We do not determine those outcomes, but we can certainly make a recommendation, which is in effect what we did with Redfern Waterloo Authority in particular, and what we may do, depending on how the process goes, with Auto Alley. But at the moment we have good engagement with our local government colleagues. So we would make those recommendations that we feel are appropriate to realise the outcomes that we are seeking.
CHAIR: We have run out of time. Thanks for appearing before the Committee today. The Committee will wish to send you some additional, written questions. Replies to those will form part of the evidence, and those will be made public. Would you be happy to provide a written reply to further questions?
Mr WAKELIN‐KING: Absolutely.
CHAIR: I appreciate that.
(The witness withdrew)
Source: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/Prod/parlment/committee.nsf/0/cd5310628ccc3013ca257a140016948c/$FILE/Transcript%20-%20Rail%20corridor%20inquiry%20-%2028%20May%202012.pdf