The 2015 Planning Proposal has been informed by a robust Employment Strategy prepared by JBA that is evidence-based and sets out a positive vision for future employment within the Victoria Road Precinct.
There has been a dramatic decline in traditional industrial activities within the Marrickville area in recent decades, along with a substantial shift in the demographic and employment characteristics of Marrickville’s residents. The number of people employed in Marrickville in the manufacturing sector fell by more than 40% between 2001 and 2011. Employment densities within the precinct are about 31 jobs per hectare, approximately half of those found elsewhere within the south subregion.
Back in 1971, over half of Marrickville’s working population was employed in the manufacturing, construction and transport sectors. Today this is less than one in every six workers. In contrast, the proportion of working-age residents in Marrickville with a university qualification quadrupled between 1996 and 2011.
At the same time, broader economic forces and infrastructure investment are reducing the competitiveness of inner-city industrial precincts such as in Marrickville. Industrial estates in Western Sydney provide cheaper land for traditional industrial businesses, less constraints, purpose built access roads for heavy vehicles and 24-hour operations unconstrained by nearby residential areas. At the same time, new investment in motorways and freight rail is being made to connect these Western Sydney industrial precincts directly to Port Botany and Sydney Airport, allowing heavy vehicles to bypass congested local roads and eroding the advantage of proximity previously held by traditional industrial areas in South Sydney and the Inner West.
At a local scale, businesses operating on the western edge in particular face a number of constraints, including from narrow streets, safety risks in the vicinity of Marrickville Public School, blurred residential interfaces and the intrusion of retail activity.
With the above in mind an Employment Strategy has been developed for the area that sets out a series of core objectives and land use recommendations aimed at ensuring that the renewal of the Victoria Road Precinct improves and diversifies future employment opportunities within Marrickville, whilst also contributing to the amenity, economic productivity and relevance of the precinct.
Under the Planning Proposal 80% of the precinct is to be preserved for employment only uses with no residential allowed. A further 10% of the precinct will be mixed use, with the remaining to be residential and open space.
An Employment Strategy has been designed to promote renewal and regeneration of the area and ensure that land use planning within the Victoria Road Precinct allows business and employment to adapt and respond to current and future economic forces, infrastructure upgrades and the changing needs of Marrickville and the wider community.
The detailed business survey undertaken to inform the Employment Strategy identified a decline in traditional businesses and the emergence of a range of new-economy businesses such as home improvement showrooms, professional services and creative industries that would be better supported by a mixed business zoning. This would allow businesses to develop more organically and respond to the needs of local workers and residents.
Opportunities have been identified to provide new showroom uses and other businesses that will re-activate Victoria Road and compliment the operations of existing manufacturing businesses within the precinct. New spaces for creative uses, co-working and new small-office premises could be provided to support the growth of Marrickville’s knowledge-based economy, and also support businesses requiring premises outside of the traditional office centres.
Importantly, the employment strategy creates a clear delineation between the mixed business areas and the core industrial area focused on Fitzroy Street to the east. The Planning Proposal would ensure that businesses in these areas can continue to operate unimpeded by existing uncoordinated interfaces with residential uses.