Driving change for the
future Eastwood Town Centre
Eastwood, Sydney NSW
Sydney is a rapidly growing city. Current forecasts indicate that more than 1.3 million additional people will be living in Sydney by 2031, requiring 545,000 more homes and 625,000 more jobs. The inherent challenge is to ensure local communities are provided with the necessary infrastructure needed to support this inevitable growth, whilst enhancing people's lifestyle and living. Land use and transport planning are important considerations.
A prime catalyst for such change is the Eastwood Town Centre. Located just 15km from Sydney CBD, 8km from Parramatta CBD, 3km from Macquarie Park and 6km from Sydney Olympic Park, the town centre is serviced by a high-frequency rail service through Eastwood Railway Station, a bus interchange and a strong arterial road network which provides efficient links to the various strategic nodes identified above.
However, despite its strategic location, accessibility and connectivity to key employment, education and health nodes, Eastwood Town Centre has seen little growth or change over the last 20 years whilst suburbs in the vicinity such as Epping, North Ryde and Meadowbank have been a focus for renewal and revitalisation. Buildings in Eastwood Town Centre are predominantly more than 50 years old and the most recent upgrade of the commercial centre occurred in the 1980s. Although a number of development consents have been granted for a number of sites in the town centre, they have not been translated into urban renewal, raising questions about the feasibility of developing in Eastwood Town Centre and why this strategic precinct is ‘missing out’.
Similarly, existing parking layouts are difficult to navigate, are exposed at street level, provide poor amenity for the village centre and result in problematic access points for adjacent properties. The public domain is ill conceived and in need of a significant upgrade. And accessibility to public transport as it currently stands, does not foster high patronage. Without change in Eastwood, the suburb will fall behind other areas in the region which are reinventing themselves through urban renewal and revitalisation.
In a strategic planning context, Eastwood is located in the proposed ‘Central Subregion’ which encompasses much of the ‘Global Economic Corridor’ including Sydney CBD, to North Sydney, Chatswood/St Leonards and Macquarie Park, as proposed in the Draft Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney 2031.
The City of Ryde, in conjunction with Gallagher Ridenour have prepared a Draft Eastwood Town Centre Master Plan (November 2013) which is currently on public exhibition. The Draft Master Plan represents the first step in establishing a new planning framework for Eastwood which will guide its development over the next 15-20 years. The Draft Master Plan establishes built form principles which would form the basis for revised planning and development controls for the town centre.
The Draft Eastwood Town Centre Master Plan presents many valuable concepts with respect to the future of Eastwood Town Centre, particularly in terms of public domain works and improvements to pedestrian connectivity. However, a key limitation of the Draft Plan is in its implementation. The Draft document presents limited detail on the mechanisms and/ or interventions required to ensure the delivery of the vision outlined in the Plan, the overall feasibility of the concepts presented and the likely staging/timing of implementation. A key challenge of any master planning process is to ensure that the vision adopted through the design and planning process is balanced with feasibility so that the desired outcomes of the plan can be delivered on the ground. In the absence of this, the master plan remains no more than a reference document and loses its relevance and purpose.
The attributes offered by Eastwood Town Centre warrant interventions which will drive the change necessary for this established suburb to evolve into a contemporary centre which offers better services and greater amenity for its residents. In this respect, the question to consider is whether or not the Draft Master Plan prepared for the Town Centre is sufficiently bold to catalyse this change and ensure its ultimate deliverability for the benefit of the broader community. So far, we’re not convinced.
Image source for the Visualisation of Eastwood Town Centre: Extract from YUHU GROUP Presentation, Conybeare Morrison International Pty Ltd