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A recent national report on urban planning reveals that Sydney does not have an effective plan for investment and infrastructure.

Sydney bottomed a review of capital city planning, alongside Melbourne, by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Reform Council.

Head of Built Environment Design at the University of Technology Sydney, Dr Helen MacDonald, said the report is limited and focuses on the coordination of the strategic planning process rather than outcomes.

Dr MacDonald said there should be integrated planning for a variety of interrelated issues.

“It’s a positive thing that the Commonwealth Government has started to look at the strategic planning issues out there because I think there is leadership needed at the Commonwealth level.

“Planning for landuse change, increased population [and] economic growth is still disassociated with planning for infrastructure development,” she said.

“The report identifies lack of integration between land use planning, new housing and employment development areas, and infrastructure investment,” Dr MacDonald said.

“ [This] makes it difficult for Sydney to address challenges of housing affordability, social inclusion and demographic change.”

Plans for future developments will have limited ability to create housing that is truly affordable and inclusive, she said.

“People in the affordable housing area have begun to look beyond just the price of housing, but what costs the location of that home entails to commute to work and essential services,” she said.

NSW planning minister Brad Hazzard said the government is strongly focused on action and delivery.

“In order to ensure that action is well placed, Statewide goals have been set and agreed in NSW 2012 which will be reinforced by a new Long Term Transport Master Plan for the State, and a State Infrastructure Strategy, he said.

“A new Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney is also to be prepared this year to guide strong economic development in our most important city.

The first stage is a discussion paper, to be launched shortly.”

Chairman of the COAG Reform Council, Paul McClintock, said governments need to get better at bringing together different aspects of their city planning.

“In assessing the eight cities, it was clear that governments share a number of common goals, issues and challenges – and no one government has all the policy levers and expertise to deal with them,” he said.

COAG has committed to responding to the council’s review within six months.

By Lynn Chinnock