The NSW Department of Planning, Housing & Infrastructure has proposed new changes to housing density across Sydney and outer regions. This major policy shift on planning rules and regulations was published on 23 December 2023 with submissions due by 23 February 2024.
In response to the potentially alarming impacts on our suburbs, we are extremely concerned that this one-size-fits-all approach to increasing housing density will override Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and heritage provisions and allow developers to bypass the rules that reflect the values and character of our Municipality.
Much of our LGA is a conservation area. However, increased density via significant changes to our planning standards will increase heights, result in loss of trees and tree canopy, increase traffic congestion and will most definitely alter the look, character, liveability, environment and amenity of our municipality.
Council is holding an Extraordinary Council meeting on Monday 19th February 2024 at 6pm to consider the proposed reforms. The predicted outcomes for residential areas are clearly detailed in Council’s Meeting Agenda on page 3. Council’s proposed submission is on page 7 and maps showing the affected areas – almost the whole of the Hunters Hill Municipality – are from page 55. Some examples of the new rules are:
- Dual occupancy can now be on land as small as 450sqm (currently 700sqm in the LEP) with a building height of 9.5m.
- Building heights of 21m will be allowed in Medium Density Residential areas within 400m of Employment or Mixed Use zones (ie Hunters Hill Village, Boronia Park, Gladesville Town Centre).
- Proposed reductions in landscaping requirements on differing lot sizes – as little as 15%-30% in some cases, where currently the requirement is for 50%-60% – will have serious implications for our streetscape, tree canopy and green environment.
What you can do:
Go to the NSW Planning Portal and register your objection – however brief. Suggestions for relevant talking points are:
- A blanket approach to planning across all of Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, is not suitable for all communities, particularly small communities like Hunters Hill, and is contrary to the Department’s own policies around “place-based” planning as the key to good design and healthy cities;
- The proposals to introduce new Non-Refusal Standards will override Local Environmental Plans and lock out community views on the impact of development proposals;
- The serious consequences of additional development on traffic congestion, existing road networks, waste services, schools and precious open space have not been considered. A major overhaul of public transport will be required, as the limitations of our access roads will preclude any meaningful adjustments to cope with increased traffic flows.
Attend the Extraordinary Meeting at Council Chambers on Monday 19 February at 6pm.
We have the opportunity to demonstrate the strength of feeling in the community. If you would like to have your say, register by noon on Monday 19th at https://www.huntershill.nsw.gov.au/Council/Council-Meetings/Public-Participation
The Trust has always advocated to increase density through sensible measures such as infill housing, terraces, semi-detached homes and dual occupancy and where applicable, adaptive-reuse. We also welcome affordable housing strategies – our LGA has the highest percentage of affordable housing in Sydney. A developer bonus is already in force for apartments and shop-top housing for providing 10-15% affordable housing but these new proposals could allow even greater heights and floor space ratios.
We question the perceived wisdom that the only solution to housing shortages is increasing supply. Recent research has shown:
1) When all Sydney Councils are combined, there are 163,700 unoccupied dwellings in Sydney. (SMH 16 Jan 2024)
2) There are more than 75,000 dwellings across NSW dedicated as AirBnB (SMH 9 Feb 2024)
3) The level of immigration, although reducing, is placing undue pressure on the housing market (Alan Kohler: The Great Divide).
4) Developers are land banking until conditions are favourable and sometimes choosing to hold onto properties and drip-feed stock onto the market to maximise returns (Leith van Onselen: Developer land banking drives Australia’s housing shortage June 2023). Anecdotally, it also now appears that developers are delaying projects to see what these new changes will mean for them and whether they can achieve additional yields.
Submissions can be made via the NSW Planning Portal by Friday 23 February.