This was the central message of a speech made by Lucy Turnbull AO, the Chief Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission, at the prestigious Bradfield Oration on Wednesday evening.
The three cities envisaged by Ms Turnbull are the Eastern Harbour City, the Central Parramatta River City and a Western City in and around the new airport. Each of these three cities will have their own unique identity and each must be planned to maximise liveability, productivity and sustainability.
According to Ms Turnbull, who is a former Lord Mayor of the City of Sydney, the three cities approach sets the tone for the future work of the Greater Sydney Commission. The Commission was established earlier this year to lead and co-ordinate metropolitan planning for the Greater Sydney Region.
“The three cities is a bold, new vision for Australia’s largest metropolitan area,” said Ms Turnbull.
“Greater Sydney is globally unique,” said Ms Turnbull. “We are an open, culturally diverse and inclusive city with a huge base of skilled and highly dynamic talent close to emerging markets. Sydney is already one of the great cities of the world but we will be even greater if we get the planning right.”
Ms Turnbull said it was essential to embrace the concept of the three cities as Greater Sydney’s population grows from its current level of 4.6 million to six million in 20 years, to eight million in 2056 with most of the growth taking place in the west.
“If current trends continue, by 2036 over 50 per cent of Sydney’s population will live west of Parramatta,” she said.
Ms Turnbull said that is why it is so important to develop the geographic heart of the Greater Sydney Region – the Parramatta area – which is undergoing a period of unprecedented growth.
The three cities within Greater Sydney are – the Eastern City, the Central City and the Western City.
The Eastern City includes the traditional Sydney CBD and stretches from Macquarie Park in the north to Kogarah in the south.
Ms Turnbull said the Eastern City is and will continue to be the powerhouse of the Australian economy, particularly with the agglomeration in financial, business, professional and IT sectors. However, geographic and other constraints to growth are increasing the importance of developing cities to the west of the traditional CBD.
“The Eastern City has increasingly apparent constraints and limitations – from curfews at Kingsford Smith, to housing affordability challenges, to a shortage in office space – that will be become more difficult to respond to within the geographic confines of the eastern fringe.
“For our city to grow, become more productive and more liveable we need a balanced distribution of assets at the centre and west of our city too. This is necessary if Greater Sydney’s going to work well and provide a fantastic quality of life and opportunity for all.”
“Referred to as the Central City in our three cities model, the Greater Parramatta area is at a critical moment in history – the stars are aligning with total investment from the public and private sectors of over $10 billion over the next five years.”
Working with Parramatta City Council and other stakeholders, Ms Turnbull said the Greater Sydney Commission has created a vision around all the various projects and investments called GPOP – the Greater Parramatta to Olympic Park corridor.
“Not just a snappy name, GPOP is a shared vision for the growth of this area as an additional 41,000 people call Greater Parramatta home over the next five years.
“It’s time for a change of perspective and a change in the way we all imagine Greater Sydney. Greater Sydney needs a true city at its centre, close to its people.”
Lucy said the third city planned for Sydney known as the Western City would be centred around the new Western City Airport and the existing areas of Camden, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Penrith which the Greater Sydney Commission calls the “String of Pearls”.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Western Sydney. We have to deliver the liveability and the opportunity to support a good quality of life as well.If we don’t plan well there will be an increasing geographic separation between where people live and where they work.”
“The airport will be the catalyst for new jobs across many sectors and drive the growth and success of the String of Pearls.”
Ms Turnbull said that the three cities approach “gives a clear picture of how people can realistically achieve the goal of being able to live within 30 minutes of where they work, study and play. This makes our city more liveable, productive and sustainable for everyone.”