Figtree resident Keiran Thomas the Urban Development Institute of Australia's new Greater Western Sydney & Southern Region manager

NEW ROLE: Figtree resident Keiran Thomas is the Urban Development Institute of Australia's new Greater Western Sydney & Southern Region manager. Picture: Supplied

NEW ROLE: Figtree resident Keiran Thomas is the Urban Development Institute of Australia's new Greater Western Sydney & Southern Region manager. Picture: Supplied

The new Illawarra-based representative of a property sector body believes the region’s future is heavily based in “really connecting into Western Sydney”.

The Urban Development Institute of Australia recently revamped its Illawarra presence.

UDIA NSW is a leading industry body representing the interests of the NSW property development sector. 

Their new regional manager, Keiran Thomas, worked in the Department of Planning for 10 years before starting his own Wollongong-based planning business.

The Figtree resident said goals for the Illawarra included developing the region as an even more important logistics hub after the Western Sydney Airport is built.

“We see the connection between the Illawarra and Western Sydney as a really huge opportunity for the future,” Mr Thomas said.

“I think the Illawarra could basically be the port for Western Sydney.

“If we can get some of the freight line upgrades completed like the Maldon-Dombarton line, the road connections through Appin Road/Picton Road and others through to Campbelltown and then up to the airport in Western Sydney, that could be a huge advantage for the Illawarra.

“That’s a high-level, longer-term idea for the region. We’ve been banging our heads against a brick wall trying to get the connection to Eastern Sydney in terms of rail lines and road upgrades… I think our future’s really connecting into Western Sydney.”

Meanwhile, Mr Thomas said they had members with estates located near the site for the proposed maximum-security jail at Kembla Grange.

He said they wanted more detail regarding the proposed plan, including whereabouts on the site the prison could potentially be constructed. 

“Our members aren't opposed to the idea of a prison per se, but it’s the lack of detail at this stage because it’s affecting their sales,” he said.

“They’ve had a noticeable drop-off in sale contract exchanges since the announcement.

“Longer-term, (the concern is) making sure that it’s right for the West Dapto area. 

“Kembla Grange is kind of the gateway to all of West Dapto, and if it’s not done right and the infrastructure’s not there then it could have huge consequences for housing and development in the area.”

Mr Thomas also said Illawarra councils should consider smaller lot sizes for areas like West Dapto, saying the type of housing people want has moved on somewhat from the traditional 450sqm minimum lot size. 

“We’re encouraging council to look at down to 300sqm lots in the right areas around town centres so it would allow people to build smaller townhouses and smaller dwellings,” he said. 

The Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code that’s coming into effect on July 6, we really want council to support that to make sure the lot sizes they approve allow people to use that code in the Illawarra.

“But we’re getting a little concerned that the government’s getting a bit wobbly on the idea because there’s been a few councils that have asked them to revoke it.

“(Under the code) there is the potential to deliver four dwellings on a traditional lot that is a better size for the type of house people want these days, and cheaper as well… And you get it approved quicker because you get it through a private certifier rather than having to wait for the DA process.”