THE centrepiece of the NSW Government’s strategy for urban consolidation across Sydney – which involves building 640,000 homes by 2031 – is under growing pressure from developers and its own environmental agency.The Department of the Environment, Climate Change and Water has warned that housing developments along transport corridors, such as rail lines and major roads, needs to be insulated against excessive noise, citing increasing complaints from the public.A development group has argued in a research paper that the plan to build medium- and high-density housing around railway stations is not economical.A senior manager in the department, Lorraine Phillips, who deals with noise pollution, told a conference this week that complaints about rail noise were increasing. ”Urban consolidation around public transport must involve careful planning to avoid noise-based conflict,” she said.Ms Phillips said the department ”likes rail” because it has lower greenhouse gas emissions than road and air transport. She said the department ”did not prioritise” the nuisance of rail noise over the challenge of greenhouse emissions or air quality, but urged developers along rail routes ”to do their bit to deal with rail noise”.She presented data showing that in 2007 the department received 148 complaints about rail noise, rising to 164 complaints last year. In the first quarter of 2009, there were 84, suggesting complaints could top 300 by year’s end. Most residents were protesting about ”wheel squeal” from freight trains, with particular problems in the Hunter Valley and along the southern Sydney freight line.But with rail contributing just 0.3 per cent to the nation’s total greenhouse emissions, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, the department believes the onus is on builders to insulate homes in transport corridors.It has imposed tough acoustic standards that limit external noise to 35 decibels in bedrooms and 40 decibels in living areas.While the Government’s Metropolitan Strategy aims to build more than 130,000 homes in 27 ”strategic centres” – mainly around public transport hubs, including 63,000 along the Parramatta Road corridor – the Urban Development Institute doubts it is economically viable.In its research paper, the institute modelled a development around the Padstow train station and town centre. The institute’s chief executive, Stephen Albin, told the Herald it would cost up to $2 million to acquire four blocks in the area, meaning a developer would need to build a project worth between $10 million and $15 million to make a profit.He said the market meant ”you cannot sell Double Bay-priced apartments in Padstow”, so developers would have to seek higher densities. ”You then have to ask whether you can stick 25-storey buildings in areas where there are two-storey buildings.”
Nanjing Night Net

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