February 28 - March 6, 2021: Issue 485


the Required Local Housing Strategy: Feedback Closes March 7

In recent weeks Pittwater Online has been bombarded with emails, messages and now, one petition, protesting against what is already dubbed 'the Mona Vale Place Plan Mark II', as encompassed in the Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy.

People are gazing at the Mona Vale Road Upgrade, a much needed renewal long looked forward to, and have begun to realise a wider brand spanking new road capable of funnelling more people faster along its corridor has a destination - in this case Mona Vale, Warriewood, Narrabeen and Ingleside.

They then turn around and gaze steadily at the Peninsula Plaza, the "Delmege" building at Mona Vale, and remember lies once heard that were the final straw and saw residents push for secession from Warringah Council with no holding back. 

Letter currently circulating

Petition currently circulating

Residents are pointing out we live in a narrow peninsula, that the Barrenjoey road is the one road in and out, and this is already overloaded and crowded. A 20 minute drive to Mona Vale from Avalon has turned into an hour or longer stop/start during the past few years.

There is also some who think the required housing targets to be met will reached through so many in each place over the next 15 years that will not impact too much on any one area as this will occur through the course of developments. 

Others are stating that having a Plan is better than no plan at all. 

The current North District Document drafted by the Great Sydney Commission, itself formed to oversee meeting future growth in population will be met with all it needs locally through good planning, states the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s projections of population and household growth in the North District translate to a need for an additional 92,000 homes in the period 2016 to 2036.

The Northern Beaches was required to supply 3,400 of these in the 2016-2021 period. 

On December 16, 2020 the Greater Sydney Commission launched its second annual Pulse of Greater Sydney (2020) report, tracking the impacts of COVID-19 across the region and updating key indicators of change. The now Chief Commissioner Geoff Roberts AM, said the challenges the people of Greater Sydney face, and the opportunities they present, make monitoring and reporting even more important this year.

“The Pulse of Greater Sydney 2020 expands on the inaugural report in 2019, established to measure the implementation of the Greater Sydney Region Plan, A Metropolis of Three Cities, and the five District Plans,” Mr Roberts said.

New data and ways of measurement have been introduced for the four indicators launched in the first Pulse report in 2019:  jobs, education and housing, the 30-minute city, walkable places and addressing urban heat. The Pulse also covers reporting on the implementation of district plans, showing how Greater Sydney is changing on a district by district level. The report includes mapping the status of projects and programs to deliver a metropolis of three cities.

Mr Roberts said the insights in the 2020 report will shape the updating of the Greater Sydney Region Plan and District Plans through 2021.

That document states the North District Plan Implementation Update provides that;

The North District comprises the nine LGAs of Hornsby, North Sydney, Ryde, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Mosman, Northern Beaches and Willoughby. This update overviews the projects and programs that support the district plan’s implementation.

The 6–10 year housing targets: As part of their LHSs, councils are to show how they can meet an indicative draft range for 6–10 year housing targets (2021/22–2025/26) of 3,800–4,200 dwellings in Hornsby, 8,400–8,900 dwellings in Ryde, 150–200 dwellings in Hunters Hill, 3,350 dwellings in Ku-ring-gai, 3,000–3,500 in Lane Cove, 250–300 in Mosman, 3,000–3,500 dwellings in North Sydney, 3,500–4,000 dwellings in Northern Beaches and 1,600–1,800 dwellings in Willoughby.

On District Arts, Culture and Sport: The final Newport and Avalon sections of The Coast Walk from Manly to Palm Beach is scheduled for completion in early 2021, and that it is part of a $32.6 million a Connected Communities Program, funded by the NSW Government.

On the Ingleside Release Area: Bushfire evacuation study, that's still ‘underway’ – Planning

You can download the Pulse of Greater Sydney 2020. It's available at: www.greater.sydney/pulse-of-greater-sydney-2020 

This underlines that the 'Plan' is always changing. The short term impact of COVID-19 and reduced migration on Sydney’s overall population growth.

The main fear and spark to anger locally is Pittwater people do not want Mona Vale, Ingleside or Warriewood (possibly a bit late) being turned into Dee Why. The North District Plan does state:

Housing strategies are to be prepared by councils for a local government area or district and given effect through amendments to local environmental plans. To deliver coordinated outcomes the development of housing strategies are to be aligned with councils’ community strategic planning and to inform local strategic planning statements and local environmental plans. 

Understanding residents complete mistrust around this process is further emphasised when Readers recall the 2018 Sydney North Planning Panel's First Determination here: For Pittwater LEP To Be  Amended To Facilitate Crystal Bay Seniors Housing Development To Proceed To Gateway and also Change E4 Zone To R2 For All Adjacent Blocks Of Land  

While Council's documents state the peninsula of the northern beaches (Manly to Palm Beach) needs to plan for approximately 12,000 new dwellings by 2036. The document has been uploaded in 8 Sections to provide as much clarity on each component as possible. 

Section 4 (The right locations for new housing) states that Brookvale, Dee Why and Mona Vale are classified as strategic centres in State level planning, and Manly Vale and Narrabeen, while smaller, offer many opportunities to build on their existing characteristics,  along the existing B-Line, are all suited to medium to higher density development in the medium term.

Low to medium density housing will be investigated in the one kilometre radius around other local centres including Avalon, Newport, Warriewood, Terrey Hills, Belrose, Forestville, Beacon Hill, Freshwater, Balgowlah and Manly, excluding areas with environmental and other constraints. 

In the longer term, if a second B-Line to Chatswood goes ahead, centres such as Forestville and Beacon Hill could also be a focus for medium to higher density housing.

Local centres suited to low to medium density housing such as dual occupancies, seniors accommodation and boarding houses include the strategic, town and village centres that are not on the existing B-Line or not proposed for significant housing renewal. These include: Avalon, Newport, Warriewood, Terrey Hills, Belrose, Forestville, Beacon Hill, Freshwater, Balgowlah and Manly.

The reaction has been so strong, already, that Council recently published on their website a 'Myth-busting the Local Housing Strategy' page. This list 6 responses to what they have received, or possibly had an earful of, so far. We run it in full for those who have difficulty navigating Council's website:

Friday, 19 February 2021
Our draft housing strategy outlines how and where housing will be delivered to meet the community's needs now and into the future.  It is on public exhibition and we have extended the consultation period to 7 March to allow as many people as possible to have their say.

We welcome community feedback and thought it would be useful to provide initial responses to some of the issues that have been raised so far.

1. Close down the beaches – we are full.
We understand many people would like to have a zero housing target for the future but the reality is that Sydney’s population is predicted to continue to grow and our area is required by the NSW government to take a share. We are living longer, still having children and still taking migration. And people downsizing on the Beaches want choice and want to stay local. 

Council has always advocated for appropriate infrastructure to come ahead of any proposed growth which is why we have the significant road upgrades around the new hospital and a commitment to increase capacity of the new rapid transit bus system from Dee Why to Chatswood ahead of development planned for Frenches Forest. 

Other local infrastructure and services required for the future would be determined during detailed planning and in consultation with the community and State government.

2. Our housing targets are too high
Our peninsula, topography and lack of transport options mean we have very low housing targets compared with much of the rest of Sydney. For example, the Greater Sydney Commission targets for 2016-2021 for the Northern Beaches was 3,400 whereas it was 11,800 for Camden, 8,250 for Liverpool, 7,600 for Ryde and 4,000 for Ku-ring-gai.

3. The targets will result in rezoning areas and increasing density
Much of the projected population growth can be accommodated in areas already zoned for growth, for example Dee Why and Warriewood, and in areas where growth is planned, for example Frenchs Forest and Ingleside. The Strategy recommends looking at other areas to accommodate the remaining growth, but this won’t need to be of significant scale to meet our targets.

Specifically, the projected overall housing target to 2036 is 11,995 additional dwellings. Our current controls could deliver 10,751 of these dwellings. This leaves a difference of 1,244 dwellings. Proposed development at Ingleside and the Brookvale Structure Plan are likely to assist to meet the full target which means we don’t need to make big changes elsewhere.

4. Our housing mix is fine as it is
Right now we have a lot of detached houses and apartments and not much of what is called the ‘missing middle’. What we need to consider is more townhouses, terraces and shared housing in our strategic centres, within the 1km radius of those transport and employment hubs.

A greater diversity of housing types allow older people to downsize and provides an entry to the market for young people and essential workers such as nurses and teachers, who may not earn sufficient income to afford stand alone housing forms in our expensive housing market. 

5. Mona Vale will be full of high rise
We stand by the undertaking not to increase heights in Mona Vale and we can categorically rule out concerns we have heard of 7-9 storey height limits. We will make that clearer in the next version of the draft document.

6. The community won’t get the chance to have a say on changes
Where the draft Strategy identifies an area for investigation, that’s what it means.

Investigations would include a study of each area and include extensive consultation with that local community in the development of a plan. Any plan developed would then be subject to a separate engagement process in accordance with State Planning legislation before it would take effect.

Learn more about the draft Local Housing Strategy and have your say here.

Find out more and provide feedback at - the feedback period has been extended to Sunday March 7th, at:  https://yoursay.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/local-housing-strategy

Of course, it's also worth keeping an eye on what lobbyists/advocates such as the Urban Taskforce are espousing as well - they're always putting out statements and media releases. This group state they are; 
'a non-profit organisation representing Australia’s most prominent property developers and equity financiers'

Because there couldn't possibly be any profit in that industry ...

Their latest:

Media Releases
New Build to Rent policy changes show the way for Planning Reform
February 12, 2021
Urban Taskforce Chief Executive, Tom Forrest, said today that the new state planning rules for Build to Rent (BTR) showed the way forward for solving the growing Sydney housing supply crisis.

“The announcement today of the publication of Guidelines for Build to Rent (after 7 months of contemplation) represents a modest step towards improving stability in the rental sector, encouraging investment in long term rental accommodation and supporting international fund investment in housing development in Sydney”, Mr Forrest said.

“The number 1 reason why property prices in Sydney are so high is the of a lack of housing supply. The new State Environmental Planning Policy Amendment for Build to Rent housing, gazetted today, combined with modest tax concessions could result in greater investment in housing and more supply.

“The Urban Taskforce has led the industry advocacy for reductions in taxes which deter investment.  The real question here is: will this actually produce any Build to Rent apartments?  Urban Taskforce is hopeful – but these policy adjustments will make only a marginal change to actual housing supply when we need major reforms.

“The NSW Government has accepted the need for a reduction in taxes and a new planning pathway to remove decision making from Councils and local planning panels through a new State Significant Development (SSD) approval pathway for BTR buildings with a value greater than $100 million.

“These policy changes should be applied to all building construction – residential, commercial or industrial.

“Foreign investment taxation penalties were designed for a pre-COVID-19 era.  These must be scrapped – we need investment in jobs and homes.

“Investors prepared to spend more than $100 million on new apartments, new homes, new workplaces, new retail premises or new industrial spaces should be treated equally.

“If you really want to make homes more affordable, policy changes must drive a significant increase in the supply of new homes.  That means cutting red tape, reforming the EP&A Act (which now rivals Australian tax law for being the most complicated in the southern hemisphere) and speeding up approvals.

“The new SSD pathway will do that for Build to Rent developments and this is welcome. Urban Taskforce calls on the New South Wales Government to expand this initiative and make it work for housing supply generally.

Mr Forrest explained that ‘build-to-rent’ means that the entire building is owned by one entity.  It cannot be split into individual units and sold to buyers through a strata-plan for at least 15 years.  The building is designed from the start to the owned and managed for the life of that structure as be available for rental accommodation.

NSW will give a 50 per cent discount on land tax to developers who invest in build-to-rent schemes for the next 20 years.

The Urban Taskforce has been at the forefront of calling for taxation concessions to encourage more investment into Build to Rent – but the problems with housing approvals and housing supply are so great that land prices are sky-rocketing – making greater Sydney unaffordable for new home buyers.

“Housing affordability continues to be a massive issue in NSW. The planning and tax incentives for industry to deliver new Build to Rent developments are a good first step but now is the time for genuine reform to get the economy going”, Mr Forrest.

The Build to Rent Planning policy which commences today includes:
  • Specific planning rules that ‘define’ build-to-rent as purpose built housing with more than 50 dwellings that is unable to be subdivided for at least 15 years
  • A State Significant planning pathway for large scale build-to-rent projects (over $100 million)
  • Greater flexibility in some planning rules to ensure build-to-rent developments can be delivered – with a variety of amenity offerings which are often limited by unnecessary Council prohibitions (the origins of which no-one can recall).
Have your say Pittwater, and people of our northern beaches - if you're uncertain the grounds your children and grandchildren will one day stand on and in are being guarded correctly - speak up.

You can make a submission by:
writing: Envelope marked 'Local Housing Strategy' Northern Beaches Council,
PO Box 82 Manly, NSW 1655.