A Ku-ring-gai Council decision to reject the Greater Sydney Commission housing targets for new development in our area could be overturned after five Councillors lodged a last minute rescission motion putting the decision in doubt.

A Council meeting on September 22 saw Councillors debate a recommendation that the Council adopt a new housing strategy based on its existing planning controls. The outcome was being keenly awaited by several community groups and locals who have voiced their concerns over building heights and population increases that would be inherent in adopting the housing targets of the Greater Sydney Commission.

A proposed 37-storey tower in Chatswood. Image: commericalrealestate.com.au

The recommendation formed part of a detailed Mayoral Minute put forward by Mayor Jennifer Anderson, in which she outlined the background of the draft housing strategy for Ku-ring-gai and the reasons why the Council should reject housing targets proposed by the Greater Sydney Commission.

Since 2016, Ku-ring-gai Council had been working with the Commission and the Department of Planning on the understanding that a housing strategy was required to fulfil the state government’s projected targets for new housing over the next two decades. In March 2020 the Greater Sydney Commission set a target of 3000 to 3600 new homes in Ku-ring-gai within the next 6-10 years, equating to a projected population increase of 10,000 new residents. The Council put together a housing strategy based on that target.

The Mayoral Minute was prepared after the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes responded to the Mayor’s request for clarification from the Premier regarding Council’s obligations to meet the Commission’s targets. In the letter of 8 September the Minister told the Council the Greater Sydney Commission’s target for new housing was not a legal requirement by the state government and that the Council ‘is responsible for deciding the number of dwellings in its local housing supply target.’

After a lengthy debate lasting more than two hours, the Council initially voted last night to adopt an amended housing strategy that would see new housing built to the year 2036 from existing capacity within current planning controls. The vote was 5-5, with the Mayor using her casting vote to see the Council adopt the recommendation.

However at the conclusion of the meeting, Councillors Ngai (Roseville Ward), Kelly (Gordon Ward), Spencer (Wahroonga Ward), Kay (St. Ives Ward) and Pettett (Comenarra Ward) put forward a rescission motion which could effectively overturn the Council decision. The Council will next meet in October to consider its position on the housing strategy.

Speaking on October 23, Mayor Jennifer Anderson called the decision to lodge the rescission motion ‘extraordinary’.

“As I outlined in detail in my Mayoral Minute, the community has clearly told us that it does not want a housing strategy that proposes higher buildings and more development. I am frankly at a loss to understand why the Councillors who have lodged this rescission motion are intent on denying residents unequivocal rejection of the Greater Sydney Commission housing targets, when these councillors have been telling their constituents they are against further development in Ku-ring-gai”.

“The Council has the written support of the Minister and local state MPs Alister Henskens and Jonathan O’Dea to reject the Greater Sydney Commission housing targets and above all, the support of our community to do so”.

“It further compounds the confusion concerning the housing strategy. The draft strategy was based on misleading information from the NSW Department of Planning and the Greater Sydney Commission, which has led to many years of work as well as ratepayer funds expended on a futile exercise that no-one in our community wants”.

Mayor Anderson thanked residents who had written to the Council ‘expressing their love of Ku-ring-gai and their wish to retain its cherished character’.

“That sentiment is the reason I have served as a Councillor for the past 14 years, in the sometimes challenging task of protecting what we value most here”.

For more information about the Council decision go to www.kmc.nsw.gov.au

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