Building high-rise developments close to Illawarra stations is pointless if the rail services aren't upgraded, Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said.
A NSW government housing plan was accidentally published online on Tuesday, which identified the rezoning of land around train stations to allow for increased residential density.
For the Illawarra that means increased development, likely including high-rises, around stations like North Wollongong, Dapto and Corrimal.
The idea of placing more homes close to rail stations wasn't new to Cr Bradbery, who said the council had already been looking at that at North Wollongong, Dapto and the Corrimal Coke Works site - which sits next to the train station and will provide a direct link.
"It's no great surprise but, for the government to come out and say we're 'ticking off on this' ... what I'm concerned about is increased density also means challenges for transport infrastructure and there doesn't seem to be anything planned to meet that need."
With a rail trip to Sydney still taking an hour, coupled with Wollongong's dependency on cars, Cr Bradbery said the train services needed to be improved otherwise the state government policy would fail.
"It doesn't mean anything unless the corresponding rail infrastructure's there to attract people to use that rail service," he said.
"There is a rail station but does the timetable match, are the service there and all those sorts of things.
"If you're going to sustain it you need those rail stations to be functional, real stations not ornamental.
"There's no problem with the idea of increased density but it has to be with the corresponding transport infrastructure."
Business Illawarra had released a report earlier this year about how to tackle housing affordability in the region, which included calling for higher densities around train station.
But Executive Director Adam Zarth agreed that the rail services need to be up to scratch for the concept to work.
"In our report we made it very clear that adjustments to the train schedule as well as the new rolling stock that's overdue for the South Coast and Illawarra line needs to be part of the solution," Mr Zarth said.
"There's no point in locating increased numbers of people around transport hubs if the transport system in our region is under-performing.
"So we absolutely need enhanced schedules to service our region and to bring us to different points in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven but also into Sydney as well."
Mr Zarth said train stations were "the first and most obvious place" to focus in an increase in density, in part because the proximity to transport would allow for an easing of parking requirements for high-rises.
"We can't be putting two parking spaces alongside every unit being developed in high-rise residential apartments in the Illawarra forever," he said.
"At some stage we're going to have to drop that requirement and we think the sooner the better. Without that it makes it easier for affordable developments to be delivered financially.
"The predominant idea is around access to transport - and immediate access. Not having to ride a bike to a train station but actually being there within five to 10 minutes walking distance.
"The second is the availability of government-owned land that can be brought into the mix when it comes to standing up these affordable housing developments."