'Move right now': warning on racecourse housing plan

Luke CostinAAP
Australian Turf Club members are to vote on a proposal to sell the 140-year-old Rosehill racecourse. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS)
Camera IconAustralian Turf Club members are to vote on a proposal to sell the 140-year-old Rosehill racecourse. (Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS) Credit: AAP

A housing opportunity that would inject billions of dollars into Sydney's horse racing scene is unlikely to come along again, the NSW premier has warned.

Members of the Australian Turf Club will vote in late 2024 on a proposal to sell the 140-year-old Rosehill racecourse in the city's west to developers.

If realised, the deal could lead to the creation of 25,000 homes on the edge of the Parramatta city centre and open up further plans for housing and a riverside beach resembling Brisbane's Streets Beach at South Bank.

But amid concerns raised in ATC members' meetings, Premier Chris Minns on Tuesday warned the opportunity to move "was right now".

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A metro line running under the racecourse would not get a station without the housing plan going ahead, he said.

"We're only going to build Metro West once," he told a western Sydney business summit.

"It's not going to happen for another 100 years. So the opportunity to move is right now."

The premier also suggested it was unlikely that a future government would be as enthusiastic about increased housing density as his was.

While acknowledging the ultimate decision rested with club members, Mr Minns emphasised there was an exciting opportunity to move to the next stage.

The vote later this year will require an absolute majority of members voting for the redevelopment proposal.

The comments came amid the unveiling of a "once-in-100-year vision" to overhaul the heavy industrial area beside the racecourse, providing for another 75,000 homes.

The Rosehill-Camellia precinct, four times the size of Sydney's former dockyards at Barangaroo, could turn Parramatta city into a dense hub of activity rivalling Sydney's city centre, the head of a landowner alliance said.

An active waterfront is a focus of the masterplan, including an eyebrow-raising idea for a closed-off urban beach.

While developers were willing to put $25 billion down for the plan, Billbergia development director and local landowner alliance convenor Rick Graf said they needed sufficient density combined with a co-ordinated vision with government.

"Delivering a successful outcome requires a holistic master plan, not just an adaptation of previous thoughts that have been going in bits and pieces over the past decade," he told the business conference.

Reaching the site's full potential was contingent on the Rosehill metro station being built, a development that would put residents within 90 seconds of Parramatta's city centre.

"We've struggled as landowners working with the government and the council for the last decade trying to get something that's economically viable," Mr Graf said.

"The injection of a metro station and the co-operation of the circular lands changes that paradigm."

But the concept was criticised as little more than a thought bubble hinging on a racetrack proposal that was "on life support".

"If there are places in Sydney like Rosehill-Camellia where you can have infill (housing), that is a good thing," Opposition Leader Mark Speakman said.

"But it seems to be pretty embryonic at the moment."

The reality for NSW was private-home approvals in January had their biggest year-on-year fall in a decade, Mr Speakman said.

"It's a government that is failing to deliver - big on talk, cheap on action," he said.

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