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HomeLatest NewsHigher density tipped for Northern Beaches as Council sidelined; public meetings announced

Higher density tipped for Northern Beaches as Council sidelined; public meetings announced

Public meetings have been announced to explain how new State Planning reforms will affect the Northern Beaches community.

Northern Beaches Council has joined the chorus of Sydney Council’s to express outrage at NSW Government proposals to impose higher density housing reforms.

They warn the plans will add significantly more traffic congestion in areas where existing infrastructure won’t cope, and, among other concerns, impose risks to the native environment and reduce wildlife diversity by removing trees.

The NSW Government has committed to an aspirational target to build 377,000 new homes by 2029 in response to the National Housing Accord. The reforms, driven by The NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (DPHI), are titled Explanation of Intended Effect: Changes to Create Low and Mid-rise Housing (EIE). The full proposals are available to read here.

It is the government’s response to a depending housing crisis. However, Council warns taking planning out of its hands will have devastating impacts on the Northern Beaches “unique, fragile, natural environment and infratrcuture constraints.”

The proposed changes are for low and mid-rise developments like these.

What does it mean for the Northern Beaches? 

The Minns Government proposals were first announced on 28 November 2023. The consultation period, launched 15 December 2023, ended on 23 February. It is currently under consideration.

In a media release dated 28 February, Council stated, “A one size fits all approach to housing density will have detrimental impacts on the Northern Beaches and should be abandoned… The proposals are also in conflict with current and proposed Council-led precinct planning in places like Frenchs Forest, Brookvale and Mona Vale…

Instead, in a quote attributable to Mayor Sue Heins, Council recommended the alternative policy: “Councils should be allowed to identify alternative solutions to increase housing supply in certain areas and the Government should fast-track these initiatives through amendments to our Local Environment Plans.

“We understand the urgency to respond to the housing crisis, but Councils need to be part of the process.”

Instead, in a quote attributable to Mayor Sue Heins, Council recommended the alternative policy: “Councils should be allowed to identify alternative solutions to increase housing supply in certain areas and the Government should fast-track these initiatives through amendments to our Local Environment Plans.

“We understand the urgency to respond to the housing crisis, but Councils need to be part of the process.”

Councils across Sydney are opposing the Minns’ Government’s new higher-density housing proposals. Photo: Alec Smart

How will the housing reforms impact the Northern Beaches?

The planning proposals that directly affect the Northern Beaches (ie, don’t involve high-rise developments along rail corridors) are:

* Allow dual occupancies (two separate homes on a single lot), such as duplexes, in all R2 low density residential zones across all of NSW.

* Allow terraces, townhouses and 2 storey apartment blocks near key town centres in R2 low density residential zones across the Greater Sydney region.

* Introduce new planning controls, such as floor space and height allowances, that encourage low and mid-rise housing in well-located areas.

* Allow mid-rise apartment blocks near key town centres in R3 medium density zones across the Six Cities Region.

[Differences between R2 and R3 zones explained here]

The Six Cities proposal by NSW Government. Graphic: NSW Govt.

The Six Cities Region, stretching from Newcastle in the north to Shoalhaven in the south and west to the Blue Mountains (as outlined here), sees the Northern Beaches area enclosed in the ‘Eastern Harbour City‘ zone. This extends south to include the environs of Botany Bay.

It is an extension of the ‘Metropolis of Three CitiesGreater Sydney Region Plan that proposes transforming Greater Sydney into a metropolis of three distinct cities.

By increasing population density and constructing more motorways, the NSW Government promise it would “rebalance growth and deliver its benefits more equally and equitably to residents across Greater Sydney.”

Northern Beaches Council reiterated, “Council recognises the potential for residential flat building development in parts of the R3 medium density zone and dual occupancy development in some areas of the R2 low density zone, however not at the scale and density proposed in the EIE.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said:

“Sydney is one of the least dense cities in the world but fewer than half of councils allow for low and mid-rise residential buildings in areas zoned for such homes.

“We’re confronting a housing crisis so we need to change the way we’re plan for more housing, we can’t keep building out we need to create capacity for more infill, with more diverse types of homes.

“Diversity of housing allows people to stay in their communities and neighbourhoods through different stages of their life, with family and friends able to live nearby. More housing choice means more options for everyone – renters, families, empty nesters.

“Density done well means townhouses, apartments and terraces clustered near shops, high streets and parks.

“We already have great examples of these types of homes. Sydney has grown using these housing types. Look at homes in Wollstonecraft, Waverton, Erskineville, parts of Wollongong or Newcastle. They’re great places to live, we just need more of them.”

The changes could begin as soon as mid 2024, with further announcements pending.

Still not sure what it all means, or understand and want to do something about it? You best get along to a meeting.

When and where are the meetings?

Northern Beaches Council is hosting information sessions for residents on the NSW government’s proposals to increase housing heights and density on the Northern Beaches.

Mayor Sue Heins encouraged local residents to attend an information session to understand what the proposals would mean for them.

“We want to be part of the solution to Sydney’s housing crisis, but we cannot support this one-size-fits-all approach to housing density which will put inappropriate housing in inappropriate locations and take away Council’s ability to properly and strategically plan for growth in our area,” Mayor Heins said.

“We’ll see increased pressure on our already struggling roads, public transport and community infrastructure, and in some areas see a reduction in trees and heritage protection.

“We’ll see increased pressure on our already struggling roads, public transport and community infrastructure, and in some areas see a reduction in trees and heritage protection.”

“I encourage residents to register to attend one of the sessions to learn more about what is proposed, how it will affect you and what you can do about it.”

The sessions will be hosted by Council Planning staff who will host one event in each of the five Council wards.

The events are free but registration is essential here.

Monday 20 May, 6 – 7pm

Curl Curl Sports Club, Abbott Road, Curl Curl

Thursday 23 May, 6 – 7pm

Tramshed – Berry Hall, 1395 Pittwater Road, Narrabeen

Thursday 30 May, 6 – 7pm           

Belrose Hall, Corner Forest Way & Bambara Roads, Belrose

Monday 3 June, 6 – 7pm

Manly Seniors – Main Hall, Corner Pittwater & Balgowlah Roads, Manly

Thursday 6 June, 6 – 7pm

Newport Community Centre – Main Hall, 11-13 The Boulevarde, Newport

Read Council’s submission to the NSW government’s consultation on the reforms.

 

 

 

Written by Alec Smart with Kim Smee 

 

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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