The Hills mayor swaps ideas with other mayors

Take off: Urban Development Institute of Australia's Stephen Albin with The Hills mayor Michelle Byrne.

Take off: Urban Development Institute of Australia's Stephen Albin with The Hills mayor Michelle Byrne.

FIVE western Sydney mayors discussed future growth, planning reforms, council amalgamations and new infrastructure for the region at a major development industry forum on Thursday.

Mayors from The Hills, Parramatta, Blacktown, Penrith and Liverpool were panelists at the Urban Development Institute of Australia's Gearing Up for Western Sydney Growth forum at Sydney Olympic Park's Waterview convention centre.

Participants among the 400 included representatives from more than 100 development industry players, including AECOM, Mirvac, Lend Lease and Stockland.

During the panel discussion, The Hills mayor Michelle Byrne said The Hills would have to accommodate an extra 100,000 people over 20 years, with the majority of development to be centred around transport hubs and town centres with smaller individual lot sizes.

"Everyone has a different view about what The Hills should look like but the reality is we do have an increasing population," Cr Byrne said. "We want to make sure that any density is well integrated into our community."

Cr Byrne said the next five years in The Hills would not be pleasant because of truck movements due to the construction of the the North West Rail Link but the project was "about the bigger picture".

Blacktown mayor Len Robinson expected another 94,000 homes for his city over 15 years.

"We've been creating a suburb basically every year," he said.

Cr Robinson said extending the North West Rail Link through Marsden Park to connect to the Western Line would help both residents who commute to other parts of Sydney for work as well the unemployed to reach more job centres.

"About 45 per cent of the population has to get out of town every day to get to their job," Cr Robinson said. "Youth unemployment is about 25 per cent at Mt Druitt."

Urban Development Institute NSW president Simon Basheer, of Lend Lease, said further development was needed to support Australia's "fastest growing population" of western Sydney.

"Western Sydney is already a heartland and will be an economic powerhouse going forward," Mr Basheer said.

"The new state cabinet is strong and we hope they have what it takes to deliver desperately needed measures including planning reforms, metropolitan and regional plans and pending strata reform."

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