Investing in placemaking through station development

Busy Metro station Sydney

By John Merrick, Senior Technical Director – Buildings NSW, Arcadis

Metro stations are undoubtedly a key public space and piece of infrastructure in any community. These developments not only offer affordable and efficient means of transport but as we move towards a more people-centric future, these developments are more and more often seen as the connecting link to housing, retail and employment options. 

Within this change, and as urban populations continue to grow, there is an opportunity to transform metro stations from simply transit points into commercial, residential and recreational hubs that ultimately improve liveability. 

Over the coming decades, more metro stations will be built and existing stations will be upgraded. Over and Integrated Station development (OSD and ISD) are therefore an attractive solution to ensure sustainable development within high density areas. 

Over and Integrated Station developments are built over or around metro stations. Stations sit on large blocks in prime locations where development sites are rare, and values are rising. It makes financial sense to sell or lease the air rights to developers who will build on top of and around them. 

This lifts land value, provides leasing and taxation revenues, and the capital raised can be invested back into the transport system. 

OSD and ISD can offer a multitude of benefits to government landowners, developers and communities. These developments can create sustainable transport options for future mobility modes as well as offering community benefits. 

When properly planned and designed, high quality OSD or ISD help drive neighbourhood regeneration by creating a ripple effect wherein they attract more investment, lifting urban amenity and increasing land values.  

A new station for Sydney Metro

A new station for Sydney Metro

Equipping ourselves for a new era

This future mobility point is key. We are in the early stages of a significant shift in how we interact with mobility systems. With the future promises of connected autonomous vehicles, drone travel and mobility as a service (MAAS) fast becoming a reality, land and asset owners need to ensure they are investing in sustainable infrastructure that will continue to accommodate the changes in the use and organisation of transport systems. 

These challenges need to be considered within the context of rapid urbanisation, aging infrastructure and climate change, which continue to provide challenges to city planners. 

Effective OSD and ISD projects acknowledge these realities and that the way people are moving around cities is changing. These projects aim to prepare our cities for a future where transport infrastructure is more sustainable, connected and people-focused than it is now. 

Cities that do not adequately invest in their urban transportation systems and transport hubs will fall behind.  While major global cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore have applied this model at scale for years, the pace of activity in Australia is slow. 

As with many developments that are transformational and long-term, developing an OSD or ISD is a complex and more expensive option that presents unique design and engineering challenges. These factors not only generate considerable capital and bottom-line costs, but they can also create planning obstacles. 

The Australian landscape also presents its own unique obstacles as we have no ‘best practice’ template to follow. This combined with a small knowledge base and a shortage of specialist expertise and skills have resulted in a lack of OSD and ISD within the Australian market. 

Despite these short-term challenges, the long-term benefits are significant. The unique combination of rapid urbanization, accelerating digitisation of transport, and growing commuter expectations mean that we cannot simply design and build transit hubs like we have before. 

We have to focus on the commuter, how they interact with place, and how we can create integrated places. This is the opportunity that OSD and ISD present. 

This partner content is brought to you by Arcadis. Connected, sustainable and optimised travel integrates existing infrastructure with new technologies. Explore Arcadis’ future city of people-centric mobility here.

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