The “Baird model” is based on the theory that using re-cycled assets (the proceeds of privatisation) to “force through” high-rise apartment blocks would lead to enough profit to pay for the replacement of double-decked trains by Melbourne-like “metros”, through “value capture” taxes on landowners.
Mike Baird had said at the start of June 2015 that this “state of‑the-art new metro rail system will forever change how we get around our great city. No form of transport ever before seen in Sydney can move as many people, as quickly, as Sydney Metro. As a brand new, stand-alone railway system, Sydney Metro will help clear public transport bottlenecks and bust congestion”.
The “forced” part comes from softening “due diligence” protocols, accelerating approvals and contracts, and delegating to trusted unelected agencies to modify councils to change their zoning - especially via the Greater Sydney Commission which was created to “operationalise” the Metros, trams and Connexes. Hong Kong’s MTR has been recognised by Federal and State Governments as the main driver of metro-based densification.
"Operationalising" the metro is being done through GSC's engineering the Government’s masterplan requirement of 4,550 new dwellings over just five years in North Sydney, Mosman and Willoughby. That is almost one-fifth of the whole North Region and about equal to each of the biggest councils’ loads (Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai). The Department of Planning’s projections for that period in 2017 were 300 fewer dwellings. Five years is not good enough as the scope for intensification is some 40 years.
There are regular polling results which show that a clear majority of Sydney residents reject the “Baird Model”, for example the SMH of 9 Oct ‘17 reported that 66.4 per cent of NSW residents oppose more development in existing areas to accommodate a bigger population. Yet Berejiklian has been pouring in all our money to make that worse, instead of dispersing population growth.
WestConnex alone with its moveable routes, construction timetables, vent towers and depots is said to have stimulated the formation of about 200 Resident Action Groups (RAGs). The biggest accusation is the City of Sydney’s consulting reviews by SGS Economics & Planning saying that about $40 billion in supporting works have been excluded. Berejiklian is suppressing alternative local solutions such as the Goanna Transit Bridge which is part-designed to relieve the innerwest congestion crises caused by WestConnex. The Innerwest Council’s expert consultants found that “peak hour traffic will triple in volume on some local streets over the next five years”.
The metro obsession is blinding the Government to “cheaper, faster, more effective …local solutions.
That leads us to the key “force” target which is Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) resistance to more and bigger apartment blocks around stations and local, regional and metropolitan centres and corridors. Such developer lobbies as the Urban Taskforce and Property Council and infrastructure clubs like Infrastructure Partnerships Australia have contempt for NIMBYs and for local government, and repeatedly call on communities to “get used to 20 story blocks” in their suburbs.
The State and Federal Governments give those lobbies special places in their inner sanctums. This is directly opposite to the participatory approach of the great Reform Council.
The Property Council of Australia boosted the Metro in its Press Release of 25 November 2015:
Sydney Metro will help boost capacity of the rail network by 100,000 people every hour and move more people across the Harbour in the busiest hour of the peak than the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel combined.
They since refused to explain these numbers. The fact seems to be that about 160,000 vehicles each cross the Harbour on working days and with an occupancy of 1.2 for cars we end up with some 190,000 people, then add the bus and train travellers (rail being 120,000 or so – almost all in seats!). Their statistics were total rubbish!
The “softening” of protocols led to subsequent revelations of suspect property yield assumptions, improbable tax impacts on individual buildings and precincts, lower capacity, extreme cost increases, and community damage (such as shocked the Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission in August ’16, namely the loss of more than 60 cottages in the historic Haberfield Garden Suburb). An associated promise of a “30 Minute City” was debunked by a later review by Infrastructure Australia.
In fact, the forced densification is predicted to produce increased local and regional congestion, higher energy costs (“heat sinks”), and worsening affordability, as well as “slumification” social and health effects.
Such Councils along the elongated Metro as Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown and North Sydney welcomed the Metros but are now shocked at the implications. They are questioning the consequential housing targets but are not understanding the underlying economic and political imperatives.
While the State Government gave in to media pressure and paused the Bankstown, Epping and like local density plans, the system-based targets are going ahead, so how do all the Councils better represent their communities’ long-term interests once both Parties out-wait the 2018 elections and continue with embedded bureaucrats and MTR without a “City Plan” we all can respect?
The Bankstown Metro model was predicted to fail and has - subsidies to MTR, no farebox or value capture revenue, reduced capacity and increased congestion - with PM Morrison running away in shock.
The Sydney Morning Herald of 16th June reported Transport Minister Constance as saying of ‘the mammoth underground train link carving under the lower north shore and inner city Sydney’: "We want to maximise the development opportunities off the investments we are making on behalf of the taxpayer because it makes economic and social sense." He said he had instructed (transport bureaucrat) Rodd Staples to go super-fast.”
Planning Minister Stokes said at that time that that would mean 36,000 dwellings over 20 years on the Bankstown Line alone (with Campsie to double in size as one example). The Government’s Administrator in Canterbury-Bankstown stated that only one planned cycleway was new Open Space, and more than 40 new schools (over and above current Education budgets) would be needed. (Labor had all but exhausted Section 94 funding sources through massive local levies that – also – were unsustainable.)
GSC and its Chief Commissioner put up gross numbers of units and people but were knocked over when I converted them into tower blocks - 67 in Campsie which has NONE now
The Government’s and GSC’s masterplan requirement for North Sydney, Mosman and Willoughby is 4,550 new dwellings over just five years. That is almost one-fifth of the whole North Region and about equal to each of the biggest councils’ loads (Hornsby and Ku-ring-gai). The North District’s load is 25,950 over 5 and 92,000 over 20 years. That’s about 5,000 per year.
The Department of Planning’s projections for that period in 2017 were 300 fewer dwellings. Five years is not good enough as the scope for intensification is some 40 years.
The North Sydney, Mosman and Willoughby is equivalent to 900 dwellings in two 50-story buildings and an extra 24 split evenly between 25 and 10 storeys, in the two-kilometre corridor. What nonsense is that!
Berejiklian is re-creating “WAInc” within her Department by bringing-in the PLANNING of high-rise estates (GSC) and the NEGOTIATION of the resulting commercial deals (former Urban Growth NSW), within a “club” that also includes the heads of Premiers, Planning, Transport and the Federal Department of Infrastructure. “Public interest” protocols have disappeared, with GSC doing a “citizens’ panel” after the decisions are made, not before as would be proper.