Draft district plans must be amended to help solve Sydney’s housing crisis

Draft district plans must be amended to help solve Sydney’s housing crisis
Draft district plans must be amended to help solve Sydney’s housing crisis


The six district plans for Metropolitan Sydney must be amended to drive housing supply, says the Urban Taskforce.

The district plans for Sydney along with the draft amendments to the Metropolitan Strategy contain a shift away from housing supply by reverting to single use zoning to focus on job.

The current Metropolitan Strategy (A Plan for Growing Sydney) clearly sees higher density housing as part of a mixed use approach to Strategic Centres but the draft amendment has removed housing in favour of commercial development.

The current focus by the NSW Government on housing affordability and the need to boost supply in Sydney must be enabled by the Greater Sydney Commission’s plans and how they influence decisions on planning proposals. With councils in Sydney going through an amalgamation process and the fact that it could be two years before Local Environmental Plans are completed it will be the District Plans that will influence planning decisions on new housing proposals. Sydney’s housing crisis needs urgent action.

A further shift away from housing supply has occurred with the use of the ‘precautionary approach’ to the rezoning of employment lands including inner city industrial sites that are becoming redundant. A number of planning proposals to develop mixed use precincts on these sites have been rejected over recent months by the Greater Sydney Commission’s Planning Panels because they do not conform with the draft District Plans.

The Urban Taskforce is concerned that there are now two conflicting planning documents for Sydney that both need to be considered to meet the Strategic Merit test for Planning Proposals. The existing Metropolitan Strategy clearly supports mixed use centres while the draft plans propose single use zoning. The confusion from these two planning documents is leading to significant risk for applicants of planning proposals.

The Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) has produced a significant amount of quality material that outlines the 20 and 40 year visions for Sydney in relation to the major growth that is predicted. There are many parts of the draft plans that contain excellent proposals. The Urban Taskforce’s submission to the GSC acknowledges the extent of the material produced and of the willingness of the commissioners and the staff to consult with the development industry. There are however a number of areas in the plans that we believe need further work and our submission focusses on these.

The Urban Taskforce submission contained 10 key issues which are listed below:

1. Acknowledgement of the extent of the material

2. The legal status of the draft district plans in relation to ‘a Plan for Growing Sydney’ is uncertain

3. The ‘three-city’ vision for sydney is supported

4. A clear vision of the future built form of the greater sydney area is needed

5. Developers are increasingly becoming responsible for funding of infrastructure and affordable housing

6. Too many planning decisions are delegated to councils

7. Housing supply must be given higher priority

8. Community involvement must relate to the scale of the plan (local, district, metropolitan)

9. A mixed use cosmopolitan character should be promoted

10. Affordable housing should be provided through an incentive-based system

The Urban Taskforce is keen to be involved in the amendment and refinement of the six District Plans and the Metropolitan Strategy - Towards Our Greater Sydney 2056 through discussions with the GSC.

We will also be producing research publications that add to the continuing dialogue between government, the community and the industry on Sydney’s future.

The full submission on the Draft District Plans and the Draft Amendment to A Plan for Growing Sydney by the Urban Taskforce is available here.


Chris Johnson is chief executive officer of property development industry group Urban Taskforce and can be contacted here.

Housing Supply Sydney Property


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