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Has Dulwich Hill really been ‘saved’?

Press statements from the NSW Government, and some media reporting, would have you believe that the heritage and character of Dulwich Hill has been ‘saved’ as a result of the release of revised plans for the Sydenham to Bankstown corridor.

While it would be nice to think this is the case, nothing could be further from the truth.

Government media release and the funny figures

Let’s start with the government media release.

On 25 June 2017, Planning Minister Anthony Roberts issued a media release claiming that, in the revised strategy, the “number of homes forecast” for Dulwich Hill had been reduced by more than 1,400.

This, he said, followed moves to “keep more areas of low-density housing and identifying new and expanded potential heritage conservation areas in Dulwich Hill.”

One little problem here – Dulwich Hill had 2,000 proposed additional dwellings in the 2015 plans and has 2,000 proposed additional dwellings in the 2017 plans.

So, by a process of simple arithmetic, Dulwich Hill simply can’t have 1,400 less additional dwellings than was proposed in 2015.

Attempts to discover the reason for the “1,400 less dwellings” claim have come to nothing. The reason we are given is that the claim came about from a re-examination of existing dwellings and development approvals.

But it is not clear how this has any impact on the proposed additional dwellings which come about from rezoning new areas for housing (as the NSW Government’s plans do). One thing’s for sure – it’s hard to make any sense of the 1,400 dwelling claim.

The "impacts have moved west" claim

Then there’s the media reporting.

This story from Channel Nine, and some other media reports, would have you believe that the government has decided to move the main impacts of the urban renewal strategy to the west, to suburbs in the Canterbury-Bankstown area, thereby sparing suburbs such as Dulwich Hill.

One little problem here again – it isn’t true.

As our media release from 10 July makes clear, the Inner-West Council (which includes Dulwich Hill, Marrickville and Sydenham) will see its dwelling numbers increase by 39 per cent. Precincts in the Canterbury Bankstown area will however see their dwelling numbers fall by 10 per cent.

Much of this increase comes about from Marrickville being targeted for 6,000 homes (50 per cent higher than in 2015), with dramatic results to that suburb’s streetscape and fabric. Sydenham’s dwelling numbers will also rise.

The table below explains it further:





The ongoing heritage impacts of the revised plan​

Then there’s the simple fact that many character-filled streets in Dulwich Hill will continue to be targeted for significant overdevelopment. We’ve prepared this video to allow people to understand the ongoing impact.


As our video points out, there are some heritage gems in our suburb which remain at significant risk of redevelopment, including a gracious former maternity hospital in The Parade and a 1929 Uniting Church in Constitution Rd. Incredibly, neither of these items have any current heritage protection.

One of the puzzling aspects of the revised plans, which is highlighted in the video, is why some of our streets received a heritage assessment by the Department of Planning – while others which remain targeted for rezonings did not.

We are looking to discuss this issue further with Inner West Council and the NSW Government.

In conclusion, the historic suburbs along the Sydenham to Bankstown corridor, including Dulwich Hill, remain fundamentally incompatible with the proposed clean-slate comprehensive redevelopment envisaged in the NSW Government’s corridor strategy.

And that’s before we’ve even started on the infrastructure needs…

Posted 31 July 2017

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