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Planning power ripped away from local councils to fast-track NSW homes

Planning power ripped away from local councils to fast-track NSW homes

Planning power ripped away from local councils to fast-track NSW homes

NSW announced they will rip planning control away from local councils in an effort to increase housing density in the state's major cities.

This morning, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully revealed reforms that would allow higher-density homes to be constructed in suburbs where they are not currently allowed. 

These new planning rules allow terraces, townhouses and two-storey apartment blocks in low-density zones near transport hubs and town centres in Greater Sydney, the Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra.

Mid-rise apartment blocks, up to six storeys tall, will also be permitted near transport hubs and town centres in medium-density residential zones.

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Currently, each local council has its own rules for what kind of homes can be built in their area, often excluding the types of homes needed to increase the city's density.  

Minister Scully said Sydney councils need to "change the way we plan for more housing" as the nation grapples with a severe housing shortage. 

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

"...we can't keep building out we need to create capacity for more infill, with more diverse types of homes."

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According to the Minister, the reforms will allow the industry to deliver an estimated 112,000 new homes across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra - making up 30 per cent of the state's ambitious target of 377,000 new homes by 2029. 

In October, the government discovered that terraces and 1-storey to 2-storey unit blocks were only approved in two of the 32 Local Environmental Plans (LEPs) – just 6 per cent of the council areas in Sydney. 

Additionally, 60 per cent of areas where multi-dwelling housing should be encouraged currently prohibit residential flat buildings of any scale.

The government will amend a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to enact these changes while encouraging councils to add these types of dwellings to their planning rules.

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

"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."

If a local government's planning rules match – or go further than – this new NSW Government policy, the state government changes will not apply.

Minister Scully said these new housing types were already boosting growth in Sydney's residential areas. 

"We already have great examples of these types of homes. Look at homes in Wollstonecraft, Waverton, Erskineville, parts of Wollongong or Newcastle," said Scully.

"They're great places to live. We just need more of them."

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