With sections of western Sydney all but knocking on the Illawarra’s door, we ignore it “at our peril”, says Cardno’s David Laing.
Mr Laing was one of five speakers at a lunch organised by Illawarra First to discuss the growing western Sydney economy and how the region can benefit.
That economy is worth $95 billion a year and is the country’s third-largest regional economy after the Sydney and Melbourne CBDs.
And, when you take into account the growth areas around Campbelltown and Wilton, the booming western Sydney area is just up the road from the Illawarra.
“I’ve never seen such a planned area of future housing, future employment lands, add in an airport and billions of dollars of infrastructure, all within in an hour of the Illawarra and we ignore that at our peril,” Mr Laing said.
He said, all too often planning is done on a regional basis and taking a wider view of how those regions link up is seldom done.
For this reason, he said people should start thinking of the western Sydney-Illawarra growth corridor.
“Looking at the western Sydney employment land and the growth area and looking at where the Illawarra sits, there’s a bit of a disconnect,” Mr Laing said.
“We have this vast green space between the Illawarra and western Sydney.
“As Sydney grows it’s actually curving around and coming towards the Illawarra. So we need to plan that and get on the front foot.
“Traditionally it hasn’t been done, it hasn’t been seen as a growth corridor. I’d like to see it recognised as as proper growth corridor and a corridor that needs to be planned to better connect Illawarra with western Sydney and the opportunities that come out of that.”
Illawarra First executive director Chris Lamont said the region offered advantages for western Sydney.
“Regions like the Illawarra should be seen as a solution to the challenges faced by metropolitan centres,” Mr Lamont said.
“The Illawarra offers both industry and governments with many competitive advantages including lower operating costs and improved staff retention rates that can provide the necessary productivity benefits in an increasingly competitive environment.”