In breaking news, Ku-ring-gai Council unanimously voted on 8 May to take action against the NSW Government’s transport-oriented development housing policy.

The extraordinary meeting was called by five councillors to consider the Council’s response to the transport-oriented development (TOD) policy, which impacts the Gordon, Killara, Lindfield and Roseville station precincts.

According to a Mayoral Minute, the TOD program will see new developments between 22 and 24 metres in height,  along with floor space ratios that fatally weaken local controls on heritage, setbacks and urban canopy.

Speaking after the meeting Mayor Sam Ngai said the Council had taken the decision to mount a legal case against the government ‘because of the ambiguity that is inherent in these new planning controls.’

“Our residents and landowners want certainty over what exactly they can do with their land, and the role of government is to provide this certainty.”

“The TOD in its current form will lead to a Swiss cheese effect in our suburbs, with multiple high-rise buildings surrounding heritage properties.”

“We are keen to provide new homes, but they also need to be appropriately supported by infrastructure.”

The Mayor added that the state-imposed policy would come into effect on 13 May, despite multiple requests from Ku-ring-gai Council since November last year to collaborate on infrastructure outcomes and establish a 12-month extension for appropriate planning.

“It is of great concern to us that that most other councils received 12 month planning extensions when we were denied that opportunity by the Minister for Planning”.

“The TOD means 20,000 new dwellings in Ku-ring-gai with residents paying $210 million in housing contributions to the NSW Government. But not a single cent has been committed to local infrastructure and future residents are getting ripped off”.

“These changes have already cost Ku-ring-gai over tens of millions in value destruction. Had the government responded to our earlier requests for appropriate planning, this would not have been the case.”

Mayor Ngai said the Councillors had received a briefing from legal advisors before the meeting which reinforced the Council’s decision.

“We have not taken this decision lightly, but we owe it to residents to fight for our environment and quality of life. Based on our legal advice, we believe we have a strong case and the financial benefits to ratepayers far outweigh the cost.”

As part of last night’s meeting, Council also voted unanimously to identify a range of housing scenarios in each of the four TOD precincts.

“Council is best placed to decide where the housing should go, what infrastructure to build and how to minimise impacts on the natural environment and heritage,” the Mayor said.

Ku-ring-gai Mayor Issues Statement Over Train Station Development Plans

Earlier this month, Ku-ring-gai Council was calling for more consultation in areas affected by the NSW Government’s transport-oriented development plans on the new building rules around Roseville, Lindfield, Killara and Gordon Stations that received the green light following a change to a state law on April 29.

The first part of the government’s Transport Oriented Development (TOD) planning reforms kicks in on May 13th for areas close to stations, meaning that Ku-ring-gai Council’s transport hubs will be raised to six storeys to increase housing supply.

Here’s a breakdown of the new rules:

  • Buildings will be limited to a height of 22 metres for residential purposes and 24 metres if they include shops on the ground floor.
  • The maximum floor space ratio is set at 2.5:1, allowing for buildings up to 6 stories high.
  • There’s a minimum lot width of 21 metres but no minimum lot size requirement.
  • For developments exceeding 2000 square metres in size, a 2% mandatory contribution towards affordable housing is required.
  • It’s important to note that these new rules don’t affect heritage protections. Any development applications with heritage considerations will still be handled by the local councils following existing guidelines.

Mayor Sam Ngai said that while the government had made some concessions regarding site consolidation and floor space, the underlying issues of infrastructure, urban tree canopy and heritage remained unresolved.

“Despite the government’s claims about heritage, it is inevitable that local controls on heritage, setbacks and tree planting will be fatally weakened if they are not consistent with delivering the target height and floor space ratios.”

The Pacific Highway at Roseville

“Our other key concern is that over $1.5 billion will be generated by state taxes on new development but not a single cent has yet been committed to infrastructure.”

“The government’s mantra is that existing infrastructure can accommodate all this population growth and people will be using public transport to get around.”

“Everyone knows this is a fairytale. Ask anyone trying to get to work on time in Sydney or enrol their kids into local schools.”

Mayor Ngai said the government must also commit funds to acquiring land for public parks. “Open space cannot be retrofitted and there will be no backyards for children to play in.”
He added that a two percent affordable housing component in new developments was ‘tokenistic’.

“A commitment of just two percent for affordable housing is pandering to developers, not essential workers.”

‌Mayor Ngai said the push for increased density was also endangering Sydney’s tree canopy targets of 40 percent by 2036.

‌“The Planning Minister is on a collision course with his Minister for the Environment if this issue is not addressed.”

Images: Sam Ngai, Ku-ring-gai Council, Wiki Images.

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