Just back from a site visit at Delfin Lend Lease’s Nelsons Ridge in Pemulwuy in Sydney’s west. Â Very impressed.
The scheme features excellent urban design; high quality architecture from housing developers Cosmopolitan and Axis;Â riverside walking and cycle paths, and an abundance of recreational open space and native vegetation.
The masterplanning of the scheme -Â including detached houses, attached townhouses and apartments – is designed to take advantage of the natural landscape, with its attractive rolling hills.Â It is an oasis in a locality characterised by typically low density housing and the oversized homes for which Australia is now infamous.
Delfin and partners have incorporated much of the infrastructure required to support a socially sustainable community.
Now if only there was a railway station nearby…
Sadly, despite the best intentions of developers in striving to create liveable communities, there remains a gaping hole in place of high quality public transport infrastructure in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Disconnected, the new book by Dr Andrew Leigh, MP for Fraser, explores the notion of declining social capital in Australia.
Social capital, which may be defined as the connectivity and cohesiveness of a community, is one of a number of aspects of social sustainability which is inherently difficult to pinpoint or measure.Â Indicators of social capital which are applied by Leigh include civic participation through organisational membership such as union membership or political party membership, along with participation in community activities such as volunteering or participating in local sports clubs.
The decline of social capital with which Leigh is concerned he in part attributes to our growing commuter culture, and the increasing distances – and associated times – people spend travelling to and from work.
Leigh’s hypothesis highlights the critical need for significant investment in public transport in western sydney. The issues associated with socio-economic deprivation in swathes of Sydney is exacerbated by chronic underinvestment in transport infrastructure. While I would not wish to simplify what are inherently complex social issues, one thing is clear. People forced to suffer long journeys to work have so much less time and energy to become involved in those activities which may enhance social capital in suburbs where it is so desperately needed.