City at tipping point as traffic choking Sydney of young talent

City at tipping point as traffic choking Sydney of young talent
July 6, 2017 Committee for Sydney

Source: The Australian
Author: Sid Maher

6 July, 2017

Sydney is poised to join the likes of New York, London, Paris and Singapore as an elite world city but first must overcome chronic challenges around poor public transport, slow internet speeds and escalating housing costs which risk driving away young professionals.

Research to be released today by the Committee for Sydney finds Sydney is the most admired city in the world. Compared with a year ago, it is attracting more global firms and its culture and ­diversity is improving in global rankings.

But in the past 12 months, compared to 33 other cities, Sydney’s stocks have slipped in terms of business friendliness, research, development and innovation, livability, transport and infrastructure, as well as visitor and destination appeal. Comparatively low access to high-speed fixed broadband was Sydney’s key digital infrastructure weakness in a city that was achieving only a mid-rank among cities trying to foster hi-tech innovation.

It had fallen from 10th to 11th in Mercer’s Quality of Living ­survey and was one of the weaker cities in its peer group in public transport, rating only 29th out of 42 cities measured in the Global Power City Index and ranked only slightly above Buenos Aires and London for congestion.

The benchmarking report, which brings together a range of indexes, found Sydney, which has been subject to NSW government lockout laws since 2014, had fallen from first to 12th in a PwC index “because its entertainment offer is not rated as highly, and because of lower scores than in the past in terms of quality of life for younger people’’.

Report author Greg Clark told The Australian that Sydney had a “unique opportunity’’ to rise into the top echelon of global cities, become the most important economy in the southern hemisphere and one of the most important cities in the Asia Pacific.

Professor Clark agreed the city was at a tipping point and said he was “pretty confident’’ it could take advantage of its opportunities. “Sydney is on the road to becoming a key economy,’’ he said.

But NSW government would need to continue the high level of infrastructure development for at least a decade to tackle the deficit that had the city marked down on transport. The Berejiklian government is conducting a massive transport infrastructure program including the WestConnex toll road, the creation of a Sydney metro and construction of a light-rail system to the eastern suburbs.

With the city’s population set to increase from five million to six million in a decade, the results painted “an even clearer imperative for integrated planning, ­spatial development and infrastructure investment across Greater Sydney’’, the Clark report said.

The city was performing strongly as an international business centre. It ranked as the 10th most integrated city into networks of advanced services firms, was in the top 20 out of 125 for business activity and the eighth most highly rated financial centre in the world, up from 23 in 2012.

But inflated costs, loss of livability, and deficits in infrastructure “all now negatively affect Sydney’s performance in multiple global measures’’.

“Congestion, spatial imbalances, unaffordability and environmental strains all risk relegating Sydney from the group of cities associated with a high quality of life,” the report said. It was important these challenges as well as high housing costs didn’t crowd out young talent.

Read the piece here