Sorry, Melbourne peeps, but I think we can all agree that Sydney’s pretty iconic.
With its central business district’s unmistakable silhouette, its world-famous opera house’s distinct form, and that bright Bondi Beach vibe that the rest of the world has come to associate Oz with, Sydney’s become so popular that it’s often mistaken to be the country’s capital city. (It isn’t, by the way. Canberra is the capital, just in case you’re wondering).
And now, the Greater Sydney Commission has unveiled a pretty ambitious new plan: splitting the megacity into three.
Sydney’s Pressing Concerns
Striking as the Australian city is, there’s so much more to the area than Sydney as we know it. The landmarks and balmy climate mentioned in the introduction are in just one part of this sprawling metropolis, specifically the eastern side.
Because majority of the more desirable jobs and happenings are typically located in the east, anyone who wants to participate in Sydney life will either have to live there or otherwise endure a long commute. Eastern Sydney’s sheer density has led to a greater vibrancy in the area, but this has also resulted in a rather high standard of living and a potential for overcrowding in a concentrated area, what with Sydney’s population set to double by 2056. As of this writing, living in the city is 50 times more expensive than doing so in New York (which is saying something), and the median price of a house in the area is AUD914,000 versus the national median of AUD630,000.
Furthermore, unequal development has long been an issue. Once you leave the city center with its towering corporate headquarters and well-preserved colonial buildings, it begins to look like an incongruous cross between a suburb and a city. As a more extreme example, Western Sydney is often associated with the lack of jobs and cultural facilities, as well as a high crime rate.
Three Cities, Three Solutions?
The ambitious “Greater Sydney Region Plan: a Metropolis of Three Cities” was allegedly developed to address the aforementioned concerns of future population growth, exorbitant housing prices, and increasingly congested commutes.
In splitting up the city into three main areas, namely Eastern Harbour City, Central River City, and Western Parkland City, officials are hoping that this will entice the residents to move into more diverse areas, thus relieving congestion on the eastern side and possibly correcting inflated housing costs.
There are also plans to transform Western Sydney into an aerotropolis, which is basically a sub-region with an airport-centric layout, infrastructure, and economy. This is in line with the Western Sydney Airport due to open there in 2026, with an estimated 28,000 jobs to be generated once it does.
Meanwhile, Central River City’s Parramatta, long considered to be Sydney’s second central business district, is up for a serious face lift. An economic corridor focusing on world-class health, education, research, and financial institutions will be on the cards for the said area should the proposal push through. Along with proposed new rail links, this development is meant to encourage more Western Sydneysiders towards an easier commute to Parramatta rather than to the old CBD.
But Will It Work?
On paper, the new measure does seem like a good idea for addressing Sydney’s inherent inequality of economic and cultural opportunities. As with any plans for major changes, however, it has also been met with a healthy dose of skepticism.
There’s the sheer amount of work needed to realize such a vision, for instance. For all of Sydney’s inhabitants to have access to all three proposed areas, there has to be new transportation systems in place. Complex railways will have to be constructed, and this will undoubtedly come with an astronomical cost, something that the agency in charge still hasn’t figured out how to fund just yet.
Still, many of Sydney’s residents welcome the idea. The challenge that lies ahead of the implementing body is thus: truly eliminating the need for an arduous commute while redefining the sheer privilege of living in the iconic city.