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Transforming our cities: Maximising development around transport hubs

  • 28 Mar 2024
  • by
  • Anne Jolic
  • Director of Operations, Development Lendlease

As cities worldwide grapple with burgeoning populations and increasing infrastructure demands, optimising development around transport hubs emerges as a pivotal solution. Over-station precinct developments offer unique opportunities to address these challenges, providing highly walkable, liveable spaces with access to amenities, employment opportunities, and crucially, affordable housing options.

Metro stations hold the potential to become vibrant destinations in their own right. By strategically aligning land use around these stations with comprehensive planning, urban design, and placemaking initiatives, cities can unlock significant development potential.

Recent planning reforms by the NSW Government to expedite rezoning around transport hubs exemplify this forward-thinking approach, paving the way for much-needed housing solutions. When cities excel in offering diverse housing options, they better attract and retain talent, drive economic growth, and ensure sustained success and competitiveness on the global stage.

Conversely failure to capitalise on the potential of adjacent transport hub developments could lead to decreased accessibility and widening economic disparities. Research by the NSW Productivity Commission in 2023 underscores the economic imperative of maximising this opportunity, emphasising the importance of understanding the real economic impacts of infrastructure investment decisions.

Lessons learned and the 'right' partnership structure

Partnership models between the private sector and government emerge as the best way to realise value and align objectives. Flexible deal structures, facilitated through such partnerships, are crucial mechanisms for realising value and aligning objectives. By sharing risks and rewards, these collaborative models foster innovation, efficiency, and accountability throughout the project lifecycle. Additionally, financing options and phased development approaches mitigate market fluctuations, ensuring project viability over time.

Successful projects like Victoria Cross, Barangaroo South, and Melbourne Quarter underscore the importance of a holistic precinct approach. Closer collaboration between state and local planning authorities, coupled with long-term strategic planning, is paramount to effective value capture and long-term viability of our cities. 

International examples further illustrate the transformative potential of optimised transport infrastructure development. London’s Stratford district, revitalised through accelerated development and public-private partnerships, stands as a beacon of mixed-use regeneration.

The opportunity for Australian cities

Australia’s significant transport infrastructure investment offers a once in a generation opportunity to unlock prime city locations, and deliver highly connected precincts to live and work, in places people want to be. 

Making the most of this investment requires bold thinking, a sophisticated and coordinated approach to land use, governance, planning, land economics, urban design, and placemaking. To future-proof our cities, we must embrace housing density and diversity around transport hubs, boost affordable housing targets, and collaborate with government to ensure financially viable developments.