\ Sydney’s economic centre drifts away from the CBD towards Concord – Committee For Sydney


Sydney’s economic centre drifts away from the CBD towards Concord

April 4, 2015

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Matt Wade

The CBD is slowly becoming less important to Sydney. The city’s economic centre of gravity – the point around which all economic output is evenly balanced – is at Concord, nine kilometres west of the CBD. And it has been drifting north-west for more than a decade.

That’s because emerging economic hubs such as Macquarie Park, Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta have been dragging the city’s economic centre of gravity away from the CBD.

Modelling by PwC shows Sydney's economic centre of gravity shifting ever further away from the CBD.

Modelling by PwC shows Sydney’s economic centre of gravity shifting ever further away from the CBD. Photo: PwC Geospatial Economic Model

Analysis by the Committee for Sydney and consultancy PwC also reveals Sydney’s economic centre of gravity is unusually distant from the CBD – Melbourne’s is 6.7 kilometres to the south-east and Brisbane’s just 1.1 kilometres south.

The upshot? The influence of Sydney’s alternative business centres is rising and the city needs much better transport connections between them if it is to thrive.

Tim Williams, the chief executive for the Committee for Sydney, says improved public transport linking these economic hubs is the key.

“This report reveals an emerging network of places in Sydney which are increasing their economic value. The issue is to connect them,” he said.

A priority should be better connections along Sydney’s “east-west spine” between the CBD and Parramatta. Dr Williams said the CBD and Parramatta should be connected by a 15-minute train journey that operates at high frequency.

Sydney’s CBD remains a financial powerhouse and will continue to be Australia’s most valuable economic location. But other economic centres in Sydney have been growing more quickly than the CBD. The standout performer is Macquarie Park, near Epping, which has been growing at more than 5 per cent each year. Its economic output has doubled in a little over a decade.

But the report also draws attention to some parts of the city that are underperforming economically. The movement of Sydney’s economic centre of gravity to the north-west also shows the city’s south and south-west have not seem the same rate of growth as other parts of the city.

The report concludes that Sydney’s sprawl is slowing – this is shown by the stability of the city’s population centre that PwC estimates is near Auburn.

“The fact that it’s been stable shows that, from a spatial point of view, Sydney is almost at its boundaries,” said PwC economist Rob Tyson.

The urban sprawl and greenfield development that defined Sydney’s growth during the 1990s and early 2000s is showing signs of reversing.

“Higher density, infill development is accelerating and taking on a greater role in housing Sydney’s growing population,” said the report, which is titled Identifying Sydney’s Economic, Employment and Population Centres of Gravity.

The centre of gravity for jobs in Sydney, a short distance from the economic centre of gravity, has also been creeping north-west. The analysis shows that employment in many important service industries including health, education and retail have followed Sydney’s population growth west. But western Sydney has not seen strong growth in knowledge-based jobs, which have clustered largely in and around the CBD.

“The big gap is in those higher value jobs, the knowledge economy jobs,” Dr Williams said. “They are not coming west.”

The report draws on PwC’s Geospatial Economic Model which estimates the economic output of 2214 specific locations across Australia. Dr Williams said sophisticated urban data like this was crucial to city planning.

Read the article online here.

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