Goodbye to country Kellyville, hello high-rise

HE MOVED to Kellyville for the ''country feel'', and on a clear day, from a few doors up, retiree Fred Warren can see all the way to the Blue Mountains.

But a ready-made cityscape, including two 25-storey towers, is proposed outside his door - the first in a ribbon of dense development carving into Sydney's suburban heartland as the north-west rail link looms.

His suburb is not quite a rural idyll, dubbed as the ''McMansion belt'' by some. Nonetheless, the plan - more than twice the height of any building in the Hills Shire - has been met with disbelief.

''This was always called the garden shire,'' Mr Warren said. ''Now, with all the development, it's going to become the concrete shire.''

Advertisement A parliamentary inquiry is examining building above and around Sydney's rail corridors - a practice confined to a small number of stations including Chatswood, Kogarah and Edgecliff.

The state government is also eyeing off railway precincts along the proposed north-west rail link for higher densities. Those who back the concept, such as Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, say it would provide housing, reduce traffic snarls and help fund rail projects.

But size is a sticking point. At Kellyville, the rezoning plan would allow five towers, two up to 25 storeys high, including almost 750 residential units, shops and a supermarket.

The scale is unheard of in Kellyville, and matches that of major business centres.

Tim Williams, the chief executive of the Committee of Sydney, said Kellyville's place on the north-west rail link made it ''precisely the place'' to put higher density development.

''We want to see transport interchanges and the places around them become busy, lively places which conveniently fulfil many functions,'' he said, pointing to the environmental and economic benefits of clustering development around transport infrastructure.

Also hugging the north-west rail line, towers up to 18 storeys have been approved around Carlingford train station, with the same heights proposed for Castle Hill.

A study has also flagged the need for 22-storey residential buildings around the Epping train station, soon to be a key northern Sydney transport hub.

A report prepared in support of the Kellyville plan, proposed by Centro, says it is the ''best means'' of accommodating jobs and living on the site, and is consistent with state and regional strategies. Hills Shire Council will consider the proposal in its next term.

Stephen Albin, the NSW chief executive of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, said early public consultation was key in low-rise, outer-city suburbs unaccustomed to high-density developments.

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