'We’re not trying to build a utopia' | LISTEN

ENGAGEMENT: CLARA chairman Nick Cleary addressing the Chamber of Commerce Goulburn on Wednesday night about the $200 billion smart city and rail plan.
ENGAGEMENT: CLARA chairman Nick Cleary addressing the Chamber of Commerce Goulburn on Wednesday night about the $200 billion smart city and rail plan.

An unsolicited proposal for a combined rail and smart city project by CLARA (Consolidated Land and Rail Australia) will be submitted to the federal government at the end of this month, chairman Nick Cleary confirmed.

The $200 billion project will see the construction of eight smart cities, two between Goulburn and Sydney, and a high speed rail.

At least 300,000 people are predicted to live in these modern, renewable and economical hubs located approximately 15 minutes from existing regional communities. 

An analysis of the business and engineering case is being reviewed, with the company planning to make a bid to the Victorian and NSW governments. The company will then conduct a broader environmental impact study.

If the federal government does not accept the unsolicited bid, another document, similar in its nature, will be submitted as suggested to CLARA by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the end of last year. 

Mr Cleary also added the company would bode well as a recipient for the $20 million funding for fast rail projects announced as part of the 2017 Budget, due to the project’s focus on connectivity and regional development.

Speaking to a receptive crowd for the Goulburn Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday night, the chairman clarified that the high speed rail was ‘not the cornerstone’ of the whole operation.

“This is not about finding an easier way for people to go from Sydney to Melbourne. This is about opening our regional opportunity from within,” he said.

“At the end of the day Australia needs a population strategy.”

Options for about 50 per cent of land has been purchased for the Sydney-Melbourne corridor, which covers 18 councils.

He said information on Goulburn’s ‘sister city’, located to Goulburn’s north, would be announced once the application was approved. 

It is anticipated about 15 per cent of the smart city residents will commute for work.

Dwellings will be divided into medium (three storey), high (five storey) and very high (13 storey) density apartments. The total project will take about 40 million square metres of land.

Mr Clearly repeatedly dismissed suggestions the smarter city to be built near Goulburn would ‘dry up’ Goulburn’s growth.

“People who want to live in Goulburn want to do so because of the great attributes, charm and historical nature. They are not the same people I believe want to live in the smart city. They’re not moving to a brand new smart city down the road,” he said in response to an audience member.

“I understand there’s a compromise, advantages and disadvantages. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

“We’re not trying to build a utopia here that everyone is going to want, we’re saying there’s a market.”

The analogy, a ‘vampire city’ where residents disappear during the day and return at night, is a reality CLARA recognises, and wants to avoid for their future cities.

“I can’t stand here and pretend it won’t have an impact. We want to minimise that impact,” he said.

A total of 14 private investors are participating in this project. The rail and first city will be built symbiotically in 2021. 

Former mayor and community stakeholder manager for the company, Geoff Kettle praised CLARA’s “proactive and positive insights” into rail and infrastructure.