New South Wales

Former NSW Government sought to stifle job growth: Urban Taskforce

THE former New South Wales Government sought to cap job growth in Sydney's inner suburbs and restrict office precincts in the outer suburbs in the "vain hope" of achieving the construction of new office towers in suburban centres, according to development industry group Urban Taskforce.

In a report obtained by Urban Taskforce following a freedom of information request, BIS Shrapnel was commissioned by NSW Treasury to forecast the growth of Sydney's office employment. The report was handed to the former Labor Government in February this year.

"The former government was told that the annual growth in office jobs around Sydney's central business district should be nearly double the employment 'capacity target' in their Metropolitan Plan," Urban Taskforce chief executive Aaron Gadiel said.

Mr Gadiel added that while the Metropolitan Plan for Sydney, released in December last year, says that planning rules for the central business district should only allow it to grow by 3,200 jobs a year, BIS Shrapnel says that economic drivers should see office jobs growing at 5,200 annually.

"The Metropolitan Plan also restricted Norwest's capacity to an average of 570 jobs a year, when BIS Shrapnel said that office job growth should be 1,100 a year. Other locations, like Macquarie Park, Randwick and North Sydney were limited to nearly half the jobs growth projected by BIS Shrapnel for office employment alone."

Conversely, Mr Gadiel said that while Liverpool's centre is supposed to grow by 500 jobs a year and Penrith by 400 jobs, "BIS Shrapnel's report says that the growth in office jobs can't even account for half of this growth."

"It becomes a problem when the job targets in the most economically successful parts of our city have been capped, in the unrealistic hope that this will force premium office space to be built in suburban locations," Mr Gadiel said.

While Mr Gadiel said the best prospects for the renewal of Sydney's large suburban centres lies in apartment development and new retail and other shopfront services, existing planning strategies seek to reserve land in many suburban centres for commercial office buildings that won't be built in the foreseeable future.

Mr Gadiel called on the new Coalition Government to review the employment 'capacity targets' set by the previous government.

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