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The importance of communities

By Guy Hallowes - posted Monday, 30 June 2014

Sydney like most cities is made up of many different established communities. The people who live in those communities often gain much from being part of the community, sometimes in terms of support they receive but also being able to contribute to the institutions and organisations that make up the community.

The current State Government, even with the existing planning laws have done much to threaten the very existence of those communities throughout Sydney. The proposed new laws will accelerate this process.

As just one example take Lane Cove for instance, an area that I am familiar with. During the past three years about twenty five major new blocks of apartments have been granted development approval. So far only six or seven of these have been completed and occupied, so the effects on the area have, so far, been minimal. During the next year or so most of the rest will be completed and occupied.


The planning authorities have paid scant attention to the needs of the existing community. There has been no improvement to the basic infrastructure and I particularly refer to roads, traffic control systems and sewage capacity. Belatedly there are now some plans to increase the capacity of the already overcrowded primary schools, although the places being provided are unlikely to be adequate.

As important, absolutely no account has been taken of the changes being forced onto the community, who have been completely ignored in the process. The planning authorities merely regard the process as a numbers game: we are berated by Ministers stating that Sydney will have to accommodate another one million six hundred thousand people over the next thirty years and that we all should be happy to live in a block of units. Have they asked the community about this? Of course not; they know they won't like the answer.

Using the State Governments own figures ( With reference to Lane Cove the population is expected to increase from 33 000 in 2011 to 38000 in 2021 to 45 000 in 2031.

The currently approved building programme will increase the number of dwellings by some 2 000 which should accommodate up to another 4 000 people (i.e. almost up to the population figure projected above for 2021).

Looking beyond 2021, the population projection in Lane Cove tells us that the population is projected to increase by a further 7 000, which will require a further 3 500 dwellings. The implication of these projections is that the building programme will continue apace for the next twenty five years. The State Government is focussed on one thing and one thing only and that is economic growth, regardless of the effect on this community and most others in Sydney. There will be an on-going construction programme, with the noise and constant whiff of corruption permeating the landscape.

Almost all the increase in dwellings, as is the current situation, will be units. Many of the units being sold in Lane Cove are to investors. The implication of this is that the investors will be looking for tenants for their properties; a further implication of this is that this will increase the number of short term residents, who will have little or no interest in the community and are unlikely to play any part in community activities.


My wife and I have lived here for almost thirty years and brought up our family in this community. We play an active part here. We receive as much from these activities as we give, but we do play a useful role and the community benefits. If there is a radical change to the community as is projected the probability is that many of these activities will cease to be supported and the community will be less cohesive than it is today.

What is missing from Government projections is what is being proposed for the infrastructure to accommodate the very large increase in the population. Since the Lane Cove tunnel was built there has been no change to the infrastructure in this community. Also as has been stated earlier absolutely no consideration has been given to the effects of the projections on the community; we are expected just to 'cop it'.

I have used Lane Cove as an example of what we face. Almost every area throughout Sydney will have exactly the same problem; some projected population increases are as follows:

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About the Author

Sydney-based Guy Hallowes is the author of Icefall, a thriller dealing with the consequences of climate change. He has also written several novels on the change from Colonial to Majority rule in Africa. To buy browse and buy his books click here.

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