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Grand plan to transform suburbs into a new North Sydney - 29.11.2004

Redfern is to become the new North Sydney to take pressure off an overcrowded CBD, according to the NSW Government's grand plan for the area.

Growth of office space to the north has stalled because this area is also considered a desirable place to live, says a strategy paper by the Government's consultants, Cox Richardson, produced for Cabinet earlier this year.

But as Sydney is poised to become "a key world city serving the Asia Pacific region", its commercial hub needs to expand into Redfern, says the paper.
"Redfern could emerge as an office/commercial centre in the same manner as North Sydney became a northern employment satellite of the Sydney CBD from the 1950s," it says.
"Sydney is a comparatively small CBD in terms of area and whilst height of buildings can add floor space, to avoid congestion, [a] major CBD needs to expand horizontally as well as vertically," the paper says.

This has happened in London, Paris, New York and Shanghai, the consultants say.
A great advantage of the Redfern, Eveleigh and Darlington area is that about one-third of the land is in Government hands, the consultants say.

Other documents, dated October 2004, argue new businesses are needed to regenerate an area which has declined and is now a weak link in the chain of commercial hubs stretching from Ryde to Botany Bay which link Sydney into the global economy.

One paper says the Redfern, Eveleigh and Darlington area is strategically placed within the metropolitan area, being at the heart of the Sydney economic crescent, which stretches from Macquarie University to Sydney Airport.
Despite being close to the CBD, three of Sydney's leading universities are easily reached by train or road, there are only 2300 jobs within a 500 metre radius of Redfern station.
"This is an underutilisation of government infrastructure, which is reflected by the decline in trade in the area surrounding the station," the document says.

The area is in a particularly good position to cash in on the "knowledge economy" because it is in "Australia's global city". But social dislocation is preventing this, it says.
The documents say the population of the area has dropped to 20,000 from 50,482 in 1921. It stood at 42,817 just after World War II.
"The decline in population has meant that the economic sustainability of the area has also declined," the papers say.

Waterloo is rated as the fifth poorest out of Sydney's 526 suburbs, the future Minister for Redfern-Waterloo, Frank Sartor, said recently when introducing a Bill establishing a new authority to overhaul the area.

The new authority would promote the social and economic development of the community by taking charge of prime Government assets including the Australian Technology Park, the Redfern railway station, the Rachel Forster Hospital and Redfern Public School.

By Debra Jopson and Gerard Ryle

Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald
November 29, 2004