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Alarm over airport's sky-high ambitions
By Tim Dick, Urban Affairs Reporter

Developments the size of three MLC skyscrapers - containing new hotels, shops and offices - are in the pipeline for Sydney Airport, more than 10 times what was approved this week.

The airport's masterplan, which won Federal Government approval last year, flags the prospect of 240,000 square metres of commercial developments crammed onto just two of the proposed development sites.

That is 13 times the scale approved by the Transport Minister, John Anderson, this week, sparking outrage in many surrounding councils and the NSW Government.

The councils' anger was fanned further by an announcement on Wednesday by the Sydney Airport Corporation that it had increased revenue by 15 per cent in the first three-quarters of the financial year. It reported a gross profit of $375 million, the 11th straight rise increase since the $5.6 billion privatisation two years ago.

Mr Anderson ticked off a project for the international terminal's car park, but a further four areas within the airport's 905 hectares face intense development.

AdvertisementThe area to the east of the two domestic terminals, land to the south near the M5 East tunnel, and land around the long-term car park to the south-east could all be built upon, while a freight depot is already under way to the north.

The 20-year plan estimates the size of buildings for just two of those areas. It says land around the international and domestic terminals "can accommodate demand for at least 120,000 square metres of commercial floor space".

Offices, hotels, shops and more of the enormous, and lucrative, advertising signs that line the airport's ring-road are planned. Technological advances will make navigation equipment in the airport's southern perimeter obsolete.

"A waterfront development along the banks of the Cooks River may also occur that could link to the proposed Cooks River development," the plan said, referring to the State Government's intention to shift the Kogarah Golf Club and create a "trade and technology" park.

The airport declined to release further details of possible buildings in the areas, although the plan suggests offices, bulk goods storage, restaurants and petrol stations could all find homes there. Each major step requires public exhibition and approval from the federal minister for transport but not from councils normally responsible for supervising development.

The State Government claims it will have to add two more lanes to the Harbour Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, M5 East and General Holmes Drive to cope with the increase in traffic. The masterplan says only a third of the expected traffic increase will be its fault, while the airport's chief executive, Max Moore-Wilton, issued a statement to "set the record straight", saying both state and local governments had been consulted.

"The one-sided criticism, from certain local councils in particular, should be recognised for what it is, code for stopping aviation growth at Mascot," he said. "Anti-airport opposition from a limited group of mayors and activists should be seen for what it is, [a] strategy for the eventual close of Mascot rather than a genuine concern for planning processes."

But the mayors, led by Sydney's Clover Moore, have focused their attacks on the developments unrelated to aeroplanes - far more furious that businesses in their areas have to comply with local planning controls, while those on commonwealth land, such as the airport, do not.

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Interesting but I forsee a sprawling business park estate. There is no way that huge towers can be accomodated so close to a buys airport like Sydney's.
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