Housing backflip undermines Sydney’s District Plans as election looms

Housing backflip undermines Sydney’s District Plans as election looms
Housing backflip undermines Sydney’s District Plans as election looms


Two months after the Greater Sydney Commission released is Districts Plans to guide future growth for Sydney, the NSW Government has done a backflip on key policies.

An incredible announcement by the NSW Planning Minister means that new planning proposals for housing are on hold in Ryde as are new policies about terrace houses.

There have been significant political statements in Ryde from the mayor and the local member of parliament about over development and now all new planning proposals are on hold. It is clear that we are in a pre-election environment with politicians encouraging communities to be wary of growth.

The District Plans were only released in March this year and they called for 7,600 new homes in Ryde over the next 5 years. They also championed the ‘missing middle’ approach to providing terrace houses and duplexes as a way to increase density that is compatible with detached houses. But now the NSW Government has backed off the use of terrace houses in Canterbury Bankstown and Ryde. The District Plan identifies the Canterbury Bankstown corridor as an important growth area but apparently not for terrace houses.

Only a month ago the government announced the ‘missing middle’ complying code as the clever way to increase density without having apartments. It seems that many councils are now keen to undermine this policy by complaining to the NSW government or by changing the lot size that the new rules relate to.

Canterbury Bankstown Council at its meeting on 24 April 2018 discussed the terrace house code under the heading ‘THE MISSING MIDDLE – A TRAIN WRECK OF A POLICY TOTALLY MISSING THE POINT’. Clearly the state government has responded quickly by doing a back-flip on its missing middle policy.

The Urban Taskforce has been aware of a growing number of politicians who are encouraging their electorate to be against new development and then claiming to be acting on the communities’ behalf. Clearly Sydney is going through a major growth phase with a big swing to apartment living closer to jobs and public transport. We need our politicians to champion the evolution of the city into a more urban way of living. The significant investment in infrastructure by this state government, including metro rail and light rail, will support new densities along their routes.

As the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, said in his report to the NSW Government on housing affordability more advocacy is needed for the changing nature of Sydney. With ten more months until the state election we need politicians of all parties to support proposals for new ways of living in higher densities rather than inflaming existing community concern about change.

CHRIS JOHNSON is the Urban Taskforce CEO.

Sydney Ryde


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