What happened in StrategicMatters in 2015?

DSCN3567-copyIt is certainly a busy time for those involved in strategic planning, infrastructure and urban governance. The number of plans released, infrastructure proposals made, public transport projects commenced and governance reforms announced in Sydney along with other major cities in Australia and New Zealand seems almost countless and the interest in these has certainly contributed to making 2015 by far the busiest year for StrategicMatters since the blog commenced. I would like to thank all the people who have visited and especially those who provided feedback on specific posts.

In this final post for 2015 and with only few days of the year left to go I thought I would discuss the future of StrategicMatters and provide a brief overview of the blog for 2015. I’ve also added an index of all the blog posts in alphabetical order.

2015 statistical snapshot

First to the statistics. Looking back over 2015 there were 23 posts which received 2,248 visits and 4,290 views (as at 27 December). The three most viewed items posted in 2015 (apart from the Home Page) were:

  1. Greater Macarthur Land Release – many questions but few answers  (this is also the most viewed post since the commencement of this blog in this form in 2012)
  2. A tale of three light rail lines (and two to come) – part 3: performance, expansion and concluding comments
  3. Sydney Metro: where to, south (and north) of the Harbour?

Key issues and events in 2015

The articles that received the most interest reflect the extent to which discussion of public transport issues dominated the blog. This is partly the result of the number of transport-related projects that were either commenced or announced in Sydney and elsewhere, but also reflects a personal area of interest of mine (it also seems to be an area that interests Malcolm Turnbull, with the new Prime Minister announcing that funding contributions to public transport infrastructure projects are back on the Federal Government’s table).

There were also a number of important planning announcements but they too seemed to have been driven to a large extent by plans to provide new transport infrastructure; the plans for revitalisation around the recently-announced Waterloo metro station and along the planned Parramatta light rail corridor are significant examples. One major planning announcement was significant however not because of a commitment to public transport but rather a lack of it, with plans for the proposed airport at Badgerys Creek to open without a rail link in place attracting significant criticism. This has been surpassed by the strong opposition to the airport from residents in areas affected by the flight paths, in particular the lower Blue Mountains.

In infrastructure the biggest story was the NSW Government’s success in leasing the state’s electricity assets, a policy which it took the state election in March. Whatever one’s standpoint is on this divisive issue the government’s victory in the election and its subsequent passage through parliament has provided it with a significant war-chest of which a substantial proportion will go to the Sydney Metro’s planned harbour crossing.

If infrastructure was significant at the beginning of the year and transport and planning dominant through most of the middle part of 2015, governance emerged at the end to provide the potential for another major political contest for the Baird government. The announcement that NSW councils will be reduced in number by mergers from 152 to 112 was welcomed by some but seen by others as being a cynical exercise both in relation to the release of the proposal just before Christmas but also because of the nature of many of the mergers. As a result the proposal has been strongly opposed by councils who are likely to gear up their campaign throughout 2016.

The future of StrategicMatters

The range of issues and events affecting the future development of Sydney led to the launch the trial in early December of a new service on the StrategicMatters blog – The Strategic Week (TSW), a short summary of the some of each week’s key developments not only in transport but governance, planning and infrastructure as well. TSW concentrates mainly on Sydney issues but will also look at important activities elsewhere, especially when they are relevant to Sydney.

ASs I stated in the first edition of TSW, my intention is not only to take a weekly snapshot of the main events across these key strategic policy areas but also to provide a sense of how they relate to each other and how they are – or are not – working together. TSW provides a quick summary of each event or story along with relevant links, especially to the original media statements and reports where these are available. Commentary (identified as such) will be added from time to time to some and I will also continue to research and publish more detailed articles on the blog on a monthly basis.

TSW will reappear in early January and is likely to change further over time as I fine-tune the format. I intend to trial TSW for the first half of 2016 and then review its future; I certainly don’t think I’m going to run out of source material!

An index for StrategicMatters posts in 2015 is provided below. I wish all StrategicMatters and TSW readers all the best for 2016.

Index of posts in 2015

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