One of Australia's ugliest stretches of bitumen is poised to become a leafy, cafe-lined boulevard hosting thousands of new homes if the O'Farrell government delivers on a $200 million promise to make over Parramatta Road between Broadway and Parramatta.
But questions remain over whether high-rises will dominate the streetscape, how far back development will extend and how many homes and businesses will be demolished.
The WestConnex tunnel under Parramatta Road will divert thousands of cars and up to 3000 trucks a day from the notoriously congested strip.
About $200 million will be spent upgrading the 20-kilometre stretch between Broadway and Parramatta, including removing power poles, replacing footpaths, new bus lanes and tree planting. Artist images show removing road lanes is an option.
The government says 25,000 new homes and 25,000 new jobs will be created, partly through rezoning. It envisages ''clusters of new apartments, commercial offices, institutional, recreation and community buildings of six to eight storeys'' in some sections, and high-rises in others.
Urban Taskforce chief executive Chris Johnson said the road was critical to Sydney's growth and the government's targets were too modest.
He suggested 100,000 new apartments and 100,000 new jobs, and high-rises up to 20 storeys set back from the street.
Preserving low densities in some parts of Sydney would require ''robust growth'' elsewhere, including Parramatta Road, he said.
A project team, led by the government agency UrbanGrowth NSW, will drive the development. It will include planning and roads officials and will work with councils and communities.
Leichhardt Greens councillor Rochelle Porteous questioned how many properties would be acquired. She denounced the ''zero consultation'' with councils and claimed taller buildings meant local planning controls would likely be overridden.
Marrickville Greens councillor David Leary said the government had failed to detail how many streets next to Parramatta Road would be developed. ''What impact will that have on residents?'' he asked.
Independent Ashfield mayor Morris Mansour said the location of ventilation outlets - described by critics as ''pollution stacks'' - remained a concern.