Fairly regularly I am contracted by students who are doing stories on Liverpool for their University courses. It is always my pleasure to assist the students and share my passion for Liverpool. This year I thought ahead and asked Rosie if she would like to have her story published here on my website… with the permission of her tutor and all concerned I am delighted to share her article with you.
By Rosie Zatschler, with contributions by Adriana Pielak and Natalia Morawski.
Wind the clocks back 50 years and Liverpool is a small town just outside of Sydney, with a population of 30,000. A family oriented community that prided itself on its close-knit community spirit, this a sight that most residents of the now urban outer-suburb of Sydney could hardly imagine. The future for Sydney’s southwest region is one of continued metropolitan growth, with Liverpool being the centre for these developments. The Liverpool City Council is continually making announcements of new development sights, but what exactly does this mean for the residents of this multicultural hub of Sydney’s outer region.
Liverpool’s future is one of exponential population growth, a changing landscape and job prosperity.
“The development of Liverpool’s city centre will cater to a growing population and represent a dynamic regional city of growth, prosperity and diversity,” Liverpool City Council CEO Carl Wulff said.
The planned future for Liverpool and its surrounding region is something that most see as inevitable and effective progress for the ever-growing region.
“I think development is good, it creates jobs, gives opportunities to young people and families,” said Senior Sales Consultant at PRD Nationwide in Liverpool, Essam Eskaros.
However, the rate at which the Council and State Government are moving in the developments for Liverpool, and the projected amount of future development has raised some concern among residents.
“The number of developments is beyond our expectations. Liverpool will be overcrowded in a few years,” Mr Eskaros said.
“We are making the same mistakes as with Sydney CBD. They should be spreading out to Leppington, Edmonson Park, there is potential there, instead of focusing on Liverpool.”
“Development has to be measured, it has to be considered and it has to be viable. The ability to build is one thing, but the ability to provide facilities, infrastructure and associated things is another,” Greens’ representative Signe Westerberg said.
As a resident of Liverpool for more than 50 years, Ms Johnson also has concerns for the amount of development planned for Liverpool.
“I don’t think they’ve got enough ground in Liverpool itself to take all of what they want to do. It will have to extend out, always. But I can’t see them actually fitting it in,” she said.
“Liverpool’s crowded now. What’s it going to be like in 10 years time? People are not going to be able to move. People will have to move out further and further and I honestly don’t know how they’re going to cope with it.”
The Liverpool City Council has recognised Liverpool as one of the fastest growing regions in Sydney and has projected population growth in Liverpool to reach 326,000 by 2036. In the next 18 months alone, the Council has estimated an additional 1800 people to be living in the city centre.
“A team of Australia’s most creative city-makers are collaborating to oversee a transformation of the City Centre into a vibrant hub that can accumulate Liverpool’s rapid growth,” Mr Wulff said.
The developments planned for Liverpool aim to bring an increase of job opportunity to the area and encourage young people to move to the region for job prosperity.
“Liverpool Council is embarking on major plans to revitalise its City Centre in order to secure local jobs and attract business investment,” Mr Wulff said.
Recent announcements such as the expansion of the Liverpool Hospital and the newly announced Liverpool campus for the University of Western Sydney highlight how the Council aims to attract young, successful people to the area.
“The recent announcement of a major expansion by the University of Western Sydney in the Liverpool City Centre by NSW Premier Mike Baird reiterates the fast-paced progression of Liverpool as a city and highlights the appeal of an education and business hub,” Mr Wulff said.
“Liverpool’s new city centre will further complement the strong education and health sector that is already in Liverpool and we will be improving the amenity of the city centre,” he said.
“The State government’s Draft Strategy has indicated a target of 35,000 new jobs for Liverpool’s growing population.”
These announcements have brought excitement to many, with the hope that new business and education facilities will mean that Liverpool’s negative reputation will disappear due to an influx of a new, business oriented, young population.
“I think it’s a good thing. I think it could probably improve the community. I think it’s a step in the right direction. Considering the opinion that people have on Liverpool and the southwest region, I think it would be a good thing overall,” 19-year-old student Alex said.
“Liverpool really needs to change. I didn’t want to move here, but now that I’m here it’s not too bad but it really needs some changes. That’s something that younger people can bring. Liverpool’s been an old area for a really long time so it needs change,” Sarah, a 34-year-old mother and new resident of Liverpool said.
Many long-term residents also hold a positive outlook for the changes, both in its ability to improve the reputation of the suburb or simply by bringing more things to the Liverpool CBD.
“After growing up in Liverpool for all of my life, any beautification that’s coming into the centre and into the suburbs is going to be good. I’ve lived here since I was 8 or 9 so Liverpool, like a lot of places, has a bit of a seedy underbelly at times, but spend money make money,” 38-year-old retail worker, Daniel said.
“It would be lovely if Liverpool came up to Parramatta’s standards. There’s really nothing in Liverpool, so it would be great,” said 54 year-old retail worker, Margaret Rhumer.
While there has been a lot of positive reaction to the developments and what it will mean for Liverpool’s demographic and reputation, some current, particularly long term, residents and business people hold concern for what this will mean for the family and community atmosphere of Liverpool.
“The demographic in Liverpool will change. Low-income people will themselves out of Liverpool. Liverpool CBD will no longer be a family demographic,” said real estate agent Mr. Eskaros.
“It will be nurses, doctors, university students and business people with temporary contracts. You won’t lose the family environment, but their won’t be that stability that families need because of the movement in and out of Liverpool,” he said.
“It’s going to be a totally different lifestyle,” Ms Johnson said.
Ms Johnson, someone who has lived in Liverpool for more than 50 years, often thinks back to the old, small town Liverpool that she raised a family in, and how different the suburb is now.
“It wasn’t even a small town, it was more like a village. There wasn’t that much here. But it was truly family oriented. There were children all up and down the street, all around about the same age so they all played with one another, it worked like that,” she said.
“Now, with all the units going up there’s going to be children but there’s not going to be the contact because there’s no where for them to play, and that’s how kids meet kids.”
“The land is getting too valuable to just have parks. But then again it means the children are going to miss out on somewhere to play safely,” she said.
“They wont have what we’ve had, a house with a backyard. And I don’t think they’re going to have any parks either for the units.”
With the planned changes for the suburb, Ms Johnson is facing the very real prospect of having to sell her home to developers, who have become a regular presence in her life for the past 18 months.
“I felt overwhelmed. I felt a push that you needed to move because this was going to happen,” she said on her experience with developers visiting her home.
“I’m not happy about living within units. To me I will have to go out further if I want to have basically the same type and style of living that I’ve got now, which won’t be available in the Liverpool area,” she said.
“Why be in a house with units that side, units that side, and units across the road. No thankyou. So basically, I’m not being forced but it’s a bit of a push. But I’ve got to do something about it. I can’t just stay here now. As to where I’m going to go and how I’m going to do it, I have no idea.”
The revitalisation of the Liverpool CBD will also mean an increase in housing prices, which could lead to outpricing the current, lower-income demographic of the suburb, which is a major concern for Greens representative Ms Westerberg.
“My biggest concern for housing at all, is that there’s no provision for affordable housing. The Greens’ would like to see a mandate of 10% of all developments to include affordable housing,” she said.
In response to these concerns the Council has ensured that Liverpool will maintain affordable housing for its residents.
“There will always be affordable living in Liverpool in comparison to Inner City locations. Consideration of how Liverpool’s economic growth will impact on its most disadvantaged community members will be taken into account as part of Council’s work on the current Homeless Policy and Strategy,” Mr Wulff said.
An important aspect of ensuring that the developments are met with a positive reception from the residents is to ensure community involvement.
“Liverpool City Council recognises the value of our community and provides a number of opportunities for residents to engage with Council, including through platforms such as Liverpool Listens, an online forum for discussion and questions,” Mr Wulff said.
“Residents have played a pivotal role in providing feedback and consultation to Council on the implementation of projects, such as Carnes Hill and the revitalisation of the City Centre under the Building Our New City program.”
However, many Liverpool residents are concerned that their voices aren’t being heard due to a lack of the broader community’s involvement in the changes.
“Our problem with most development is that the state government is in different ways removing the community’s ability to have impact on them,” said Ms Westerberg.
“I think what they’re doing at the moment in Liverpool is that they’re moving too fast, going too high,” said Ms Johnson.
The developments in Liverpool are certain to progress, however in order for the Council to be met with a positive reaction it is vital that the community is both aware and involved.
“I agree with progress but you can’t just lump it on the people like that. They need it to be brought in gradually where they can accept it more, instead of what they’re doing now, is there’s units going up, houses being knocked down, all happening at once. And to me that’s not the way to do it,” Ms Johnson said.
This article was developed as coursework for the University of New South Wales’ Bachelor of Media program.
*The interview subject ‘Sarah’ did not wish to provide her name and so an alias was given*
*Photograph sourced from ‘Liverpool: Then and Now’ Facebook group. The URL for this photo is: <https://www.facebook.com/1535460600034320/photos/a.1535469800033400.1073741828.1535460600034320/1611645959082450/?type=1&hc_location=ufi>*