December 10, 2023 - January 20, 2024: Issue 609


NSW Government Announces Transport Orientated Development Program To Begin Addressing The Housing Crisis In NSW (Along Train Lines) - This Does Not Mean Greenfield Areas On The Peninsula Will Not Be Targeted

Wombat in Belrose, February 2022. Video supplied. Video maker lives on Moragn Road

On December 7 2023 the Minns Labor Government announced it is delivering on its commitment to address the housing crisis by rebalancing housing growth across the state with a focus on well-located homes close to transport, jobs and existing infrastructure. As this uptick in housing is focused along train station routes it is not likely to pact on our area as yet.

However, Under the National Housing Accord, NSW needs to deliver 377,000 new homes in the five years starting July 1, 2024. With that amount of housing to be met as a target projects such as the Patyegarang/Lizard rock proposal, which launched a Developers website before the last round of feedback was open, and did not deny an agreement with a developer was already in place, are likely to be approved as part of meeting such targets - as may other 'greenfield' proposals on the peninsula.

The Housing Crisis

Housing is the biggest single cost of living pressure people are dealing with right now, with mortgage payments or rent the largest expense for most households.

But housing supply isn’t keeping up with demand, the government stated.

Last year NSW recorded fewer overall completions than Victoria – despite NSW’s higher population, producing about 6 homes for every 1000 people each year, compared to 8 in Victoria and 9 in Queensland.

Despite NSW having the largest population, the largest expected increase in population, the highest rents and the highest medium house prices, NSW is last on the east coast when it comes to housing completions.

NSW completed 48,000 new buildings in 2022. This was behind Victoria with 59,000 completions – despite our state’s higher population.

The NSW Labor Government also inherited development application processing times that had slowed to an average of 116 days in March 2023.

The housing supply shortfall is behind Sydney unit rents increasing by 24% over the year to the end of September 2023, along with house rents lifting by 11%.

Back in the early 1980s, the average house in Sydney cost $78,900, or about 5 times a full-time average wage. Now, the price of a typical Sydney house is 17 times more expensive and is 14 times the average income.

The NSW Government believes if we are going to tackle this crisis, to create more housing supply that will drive down the cost of renting or make buying a home more affordable, we need more homes, our city will have to change.

Transport Orientated Development Program
Tier One – Accelerated Precincts

The Minns Labor Government has identified eight Sydney transport hubs for accelerated rezoning for the delivery of up to 47,800 new, well located, high and mid-rise homes over the next 15 years.

Bankstown, Bays West, Bella Vista, Crows Nest, Homebush, Hornsby, Kellyville and Macquarie Park will all undergo rezoning by November 2024 to provide significant uplift and support new homes within 1200m of these Metro and rail stations.

To speed up the delivery of homes over the next 5 years, developers will be able to access a new State Significant Development pathway for proposals of $60m or more, and construction will be required to start within two years of approval.

Affordable housing held in perpetuity will make up to 15% of homes in these locations to make sure essential workers like health workers, teachers and hospitality workers can live closer to work.

Tier Two – Rezonings

The Minns Labor Government is also announcing it will snap rezone 31 locations across NSW allowing for 138,000 new homes to be created within 400m of Metro or suburban rail stations and town centres to make residential flat building permissible in all residential zonings.

The stations are: Adamstown, Ashfield, Banksia, Berala, Booragul, Canterbury, Corrimal, Croydon, Dapto, Dulwich Hill, Gordon, Gosford, Hamilton, Killara, Kogarah, Kotara, Lidcombe, Lindfield, Marrickville, Morisset, Newcastle Interchange, North Strathfield Metro, North Wollongong, Rockdale, Roseville, St Marys Metro, Teralba, Tuggerah, Turrella, Wiley Park and Wyong.

These locations have been identified as being capable of accommodating new homes within existing enabling infrastructure.

Low and Mid Rise Reforms

Today’s announcements build on the changes the government announced last week that will also allow for different housing types like residential flat buildings, manor houses, terraces, and duplexes in these locations.

Currently, each local council has its own rules for what kind of homes can be built in their area.

Mostly, these rules don’t allow the types of homes that can add density to local town centres and transport hubs, the government states.

As a result, the State government is setting the expectation for councils so that more homes of different types are built in areas close to transport.

This will also mean that councils can't say no to certain types of buildings, like terraces, residential flat buildings, manor houses, duplexes, and semi-detached houses in locations that are zoned for them.

If a council changes its rules to match the new state rules, then the state government's rules won't apply to them anymore. 

But if a council doesn't change its rules, then the State government's rules will continue to apply to confront the housing crisis, the government has stated.

These changes are in addition to the recently announced pattern book approach which will provide planning certainty through agreed housing designs.

Pre-approved designs, selected through the pattern book will access an accelerated pathway allowing for faster delivery of much needed housing and greater certainty for developers.

Building well connected communities

The NSW Government knows that growing communities deserve well-designed suburbs close to schools, healthcare, shops, transport, parks and jobs.

To make sure that homes are built in places where people want to live, the NSW Government is providing $520 million within the Tier One Accelerated Precincts for community infrastructure, such as critical road upgrades, active transport links and good quality public open spaces.

Developing new entertainment hubs including restaurants and cafes, including outdoor dining, and live entertainment venues will also help create vibrant and active precincts with great amenity.

The Government will use the already legislated Housing and Productivity Contributions system to ensure some of the value created by Government investments will fund future infrastructure.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said, 

“When I was young and graduating from high school, the key question my friends and I asked each other upon graduation was: “Will we ever be able to afford to buy a house in Sydney?

“The question for many these days is 'Will I even be able to afford to rent a place here?'

“The simple truth is we don’t have enough well-located homes for the people who make up our city – and that has to change if we want our kids to be able to afford a home in Sydney and not leave for other states.

“But to do this, we need to reset our planning system so we can bring forward and scale up housing delivery.

“I want NSW to be a state that is affordable for the next generation of kids with great transport options to make work and life easier.”

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully said, 

"The housing crisis means all levels of government and industry need to step up to our shared responsibility to get more people into homes faster and meet our collective National Housing Accord commitment.

“These sites have been selected because they have infrastructure to build on and for that reason they will access a State Significant Development pathway that speed their approval.

“Today’s announcement works together with recently announced reforms to create more low and midrise housing, as well as our budget commitments of $520m and the infrastructure contribution reforms.  They are critical pieces of our plan to create more well located homes and to do it faster.

“We can’t continue to turn our back on the next generation of young people who are undoubtedly being hit hardest by the housing crisis.

“These homes will also create choice, so essential workers can live close to their jobs in the type of housing they want.

“Housing choice means not everything is high-rise. We’re focused on building well designed communities, rich with diverse housing types.”

2014 View into Warriewood valley from Powderworks road, Narrabeen. Warriewood is now deemed close to the B1 transport 'hubs' at Mona Vale and Warriewood

Metro West To Supercharge Housing Supply Across Sydney

On December 7 the NSW Government also announced an enhanced Sydney Metro West project will be delivered, with the potential addition of new stations to help drive new housing supply.

The government is moving to link the construction of major new transport infrastructure in Sydney to major new housing uplift, and this focus will underpin Metro West.

It’s why the NSW Government has also directed Sydney Metro to work on increasing the delivery of new housing supply along the Metro West alignment, to support the government’s plan to build more well-located homes near new and existing transport infrastructure.

If we are going to tackle this crisis, to create more housing supply that will drive down the cost of renting or buying a home, our city is going to have to change.

We need well-located houses and apartments near well-connected transport infrastructure, so people have a place to call home, where they can move around our city easier, Metro West is the beginning of this, the government stated.

More sustainable timeline to be adopted following Sydney Metro Review

The project will be reset to a more sustainable timeline, with the project expected to be completed by 2032.

The additional construction time means taxpayers will not be paying a premium to deliver the project and will provide the necessary timeframe to explore additional station and housing options.

The previous government left a 7-kilometre gap between Sydney Olympic Park and Parramatta metro stations, the NSW Labor Government has stated.

''To continue this project without maximising its potential to underpin the construction of thousands of new homes would have been an incredibly wasteful missed opportunity.''

''To that end, the NSW Government has directed Sydney Metro to complete scoping studies for up to 2 new stations to be constructed west of Sydney Olympic Park, along the existing planned route, with a decision made based on their ability to drive greater urban infill housing.''

The announcement today has been endorsed by the recommendations of the Sydney Metro Independent Review.

Independent reviewers Amanda Yeates and Mike Mrdak have concluded their thorough analysis of the Sydney Metro project. Their findings include:

  • The government should commit to the current 9 station alignment of Sydney Metro West at a minimum, targeting an opening date of 2032. The reviewers made a point of noting the “arbitrary” nature of the previously announced delivery date determined by the former government.
  • Ensure the current design and construction plans do not preclude additional stations from being considered as station locations in future.
  • That Sydney Metro to provide a consolidated property and placemaking strategy across all existing lines to support the government’s priorities regarding housing supply.
  • That a business case should be prepared to improve bus and active transport connections to broaden the catchment of the existing alignment.

Sydney Metro West will ensure tens of thousands of people will be able to live next to a ‘turn up and go’ service that connects them to their jobs, their services and their communities with a train every 4 minutes.

Sydney Metro will move to shortlist delivery partners and develop a procurement model that provides opportunities to get the most housing and the best return from this significant investment for the people of NSW.

MOU With The Australian Turf Club On Rosehill Racecourse

The critical need to deliver housing in well located areas, along transport links means the Minns Labor government has commenced discussions with the Australian Turf Club (ATC) on a proposal to relocate Rosehill Racecourse and build up to 25,000 new homes, surrounded by greenspace and a new Sydney Metro West station.

The proposal, which was brought to the NSW Government by the ATC, centres around the potential to build more than 25,000 new homes on the Rosehill Racecourse site. This would allow the government to explore the feasibilty of a new Metro West Station at Rosehill.

The plan will secure the long-term future of horse racing in NSW and the 90,000 jobs it supports with several sites across Sydney to be earmarked and investigated for a new, world-class racecourse track and facilities.

The NSW Government and the ATC have signed an MOU on the potentially historic plan, which would be subject to the NSW Government’s unsolicited proposals process.

The proposal, which was brought to the NSW Government by the ATC, centres around the potential to build more than 25,000 new homes on the Rosehill Racecourse site. This would allow the government to explore the feasibility of a new Metro West Station at Rosehill.

The proposal will also turbocharge NSW’s world-class racing industry, securing its long-term future, the government and ATC have stated.

The NSW Government and the ATC have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the potentially historic plan, which would be subject to the NSW Government’s unsolicited proposals process.

Under the ATC’s proposal the Australian Turf Club (ATC) will invest up to $5 billion into racing and racing infrastructure by developing Rosehill Gardens Racecourse as a housing and entertainment mini city. TheATC will invest in:

  • A centre of excellence horse training facility at Horsley Park to accommodate the relocation of 300 to 400 horses from Rosehill Gardens stables.
  • Warwick Farm redeveloped as a state-of-the-art racing, training, member and spectator facility.
  • Several sites across Sydney will be earmarked and investigated for a new, world-class racecourse track and facilities.
  • ATC retains and develops the Rosehill Gardens site for housing (potentially 25,000 homes), entertainment, green space and a new school.
  • Funds from the development invested in racing, training and member and spectator facilities at all racing, training and stabling venues.
  • The NSW Government explores the feasibility of a new metro station at Rosehill to deliver reliable public transport for the new Rosehill Gardens community.

''We know that housing affordability and availability are at their lowest levels in decades, and we are facing the lowest rates of rental vacancies and a slowdown in building approvals and construction activity.

This is the biggest single pressure facing the people of NSW, with mortgage payments or rent the largest expense for most households.

The NSW Government is committed to building more housing in the right places, where people want to live – to improve affordability, reduce building and infrastructure costs and create thriving communities.'' the statement form the government reads

The unsolicited proposals process includes:

  • strong probity, conflict of interest and confidentiality arrangements, including the appointment of a probity adviser to advise, monitor and report at each stage of the assessment process.
  • prohibitions on the proponent lobbying ministers or officials on the proposal, with clear communication channels established.
  • clear assessment criteria, timeframes and a streamlined process for objectively assessing the proposal.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said:

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The ATC sees this as a chance to secure the future of racing in NSW.

“The government sees this as an opportunity to put its money where its mouth is and build more housing, close to transport links, with plenty of green space for new families.

“This is exactly the type of proposal my government has been talking about over the last 6 months.

“The fact is we have a housing crisis – we aren’t building enough homes. The more supply we have, the more we can drive down cost of living pressures, whether it’s for renters or those wanting to buy their own home.”

ATC Chairman Peter McGauran said the proposal was the most significant opportunity in the history of Sydney racing.

“This future-proofs Sydney racing for a century to come,’’ Mr McGauran said.

“It will cement Sydney racing as the best, most modern and financially secure jurisdiction anywhere in the world.’’

Enhancing Transport Links And Boosting Housing Across The Sydney Metro West Project

The Minns Labor government also announced on December 7 further work will also be considered to broaden the catchment of all Metro West stations with enhanced land transport links, like rapid buses to ensure that more communities will be able to benefit from this once-in-a-generation investment.

Sydney Metro has been tasked with preparing a rapid assessment to create new bus connections to broaden the catchment of the existing alignment.

This work will be subject to a future NSW Government investment decision, which would seek to have this infrastructure and services operational in time for first passenger services on Metro West.

The government will use the already legislated Housing and Productivity Contributions system to ensure some of the value created by government investments will fund future infrastructure.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said, 

“Sydney Metro West is the biggest public transport project in the country. But we’re resetting Metro West to ensure it will be the city-shaping project it always should have been.

“This project won’t just change the way people move around our city; it will now also provide the well-located homes for future generations to live in.

Transport Minister Jo Haylen said, 

“Our review into Metro projects delivers Sydney an improved version of Metro West. It’s a new project for the whole of Sydney, building more housing and doubling rail capacity between the Parramatta and Sydney CBDs.

“It won’t just mean a new metro service, it means better train services for Western Sydney too, including in the outer west and Blue Mountains on the T1 Western line.

"Metro West will also cut crowding by 30% at stations like Strathfield, Redfern and Burwood.”

Sydney Metro Chief Executive Peter Regan said, 

“Sydney Metro West has made great progress this year, with 4 out of 6 tunnel boring machines in the ground building our new 24-kilometre metro line from Westmead to the Sydney CBD.

“We welcome the findings of the Sydney Metro Independent Review and the certainty they provide to our hard-working teams across Western Sydney delivering Australia’s biggest public transport project.”

Bold Plan By Government To Build Homes Close To Existing Transport Infrastructure Welcomed By UDIA

The Urban Development Institute of Australia, UDIA NSW,  has welcomed the NSW Government draft Transport Oriented Development (TOD) program which was prematurely uploaded to the NSW Department of Planning website on Tuesday December 5. The TOD program will help deliver liveable and connected new communities and make huge inroads to delivering our Housing Accord targets.

The rezoning plans accidentally published by the NSW government.(NSW government)

'A key missing piece in NSW Housing are apartments which needs to be addressed as approvals are down 64% from the 2018 peak. Boosting the supply of apartments in accessible locations close to existing transport infrastructure, jobs and services is critical to allow NSW to grow.' UDIA states

“This is huge step forward for our six cities mega region and shows a genuine commitment from this Government to be bold and take decisive action to tackle our housing crisis by providing much-needed housing and creating great places to live and work.

“UDIA has been a strong advocate for Transit Oriented Development as a means of supporting more housing in accessible locations, while providing great higher density place outcomes,” said UDIA NSW CEO, Steve Mann.

The policy released includes 8 tier 1 precinct sites at Bankstown, Bays West, Bella Vista, Crows Nest, Homebush, Hornsby, Kellyville and Macquarie Park that will be rezoned to allow more new and affordable housing, and a further 31 second tier station precincts where new planning controls will be introduced to allow more multi-storey housing.

We encourage the Government to play an active role in delivering these tier 1 precincts and not just master plan and rezone them. These are city shaping precincts with hugely fragmented land ownership, which could take time to amalgamate and have development applications lodged.

UDIA has proposed a Delivery Authority model to overcome these challenges and we urge the Government to adopt this approach. An authority would also be able to cut through red tape and step in if local councils seek to frustrate the process,” said Mr Mann.

“It is great to see this Government making community building and new homes a priority in these locations and leveraging the huge investment which has been made over the last decade into public transport infrastructure,” Mr Mann said.

Getting out of this current housing supply crisis will take more than five years and with 216 heavy rail and Metro stations built or planned across our rail network we should be looking at more opportunities into the future.

“We see this as the first stage of a broader ongoing transit-oriented precincts program and we encourage the Government to ensure planning work on the next sites is commenced during its current term of office,” Mr Mann said.

Under the draft TOD program land within 1,200 meters of the 8 tier 1 heavy rail and metro stations will be master planned and rezoned by November 2024 to deliver up to 45,000 new and affordable homes, within walking distance of these key stations. Technical studies and precinct master planning will run up until October 2024, with development applications expected to be lodged from July 2025. This will allow construction to commence from January 2026 and for new homes to be delivered from November 2027.

The 31 second tier station precincts will be rezoned and have their planning controls amended by April 2024.

UDIA believes new planning controls must go further than the previously announced low to mid-rise policy for apartments of up to 6 storeys within 400 metres of a station. UDIA recommends adopting a model for 8-10 storey apartments within 800 metres of these stations to account for the current economic conditions and rapid escalation of construction costs over recent years which means feasibility needs to be at the centre of the plan to get results, the Instute states

“We have a once in a generation opportunity to transform these areas into connected and walkable precincts.  We encourage the Government to genuinely consider re-zoning these tier 2 sites having regard to the current feasibility and not squander this opportunity to transform these areas into connected and walkable precincts.”

“We note very ambitious timeframes have been set, especially given the challenging economic climate facing the development and construction industry over the foreseeable future. If we have any chance of meeting these targets and delivering outcomes during the National Housing Accord period Government must partner with industry to find ways of speeding up the planning, assessment and construction process. This will require collaboration across all of Government,” Mr Mann said.

TOD is a central characteristic of all the great cities of the world and this draft program puts our six cities on track to meet this global standard. And while the announcement is bold, the real hard work starts now to ensure these projects are feasible, precincts exemplify density done well by delivering great accessibility and place outcomes and we build capacity needed in the industry to deliver for NSW.

Urban Taskforce CEO, Tom Forrest, also welcomed the NSW Government’s apparent commitment through the accidently leaked announcement to establish 8 “Transport Oriented  Development” precincts which will see rezoning and clear the way for a solid contribution towards the housing supply needed to address NSW’s housing supply crisis.

'' While no doubt annoying for the Premier and Planning Minister to have the announcement leak in this way, the news is good for housing supply. If confirmed, this represents a big downpayment on the Premier’s repeated commitments to delivering more housing close to public transport.'' Mr. Forrest said

''In addition to the 8 new precincts, the leaked announcement identified 31 heavy rail train stations which will see uplift within 400 metres of the station to ensure more opportunities to  deliver housing and jobs in locations that have not fulfilled their potential across Sydney and other key centres in the Illawarra, Hunter and Central Coast.

All up, this is an excellent start in terms of transit-oriented development and hopefully a sign of more to come. The confirmation that the Metro West is also proceeding is also very good news. It is hoped that there will be more stations and additional precincts added to the leaked list associated with the Metro announcement in due course.

We are now seeing a package of planning reforms emerge and each will contribute to meeting the housing supply targets established in the National Housing Accord.'' Mr. Forrest stated

''The Urban Taskforce is bemused that the precincts around Bondi Junction, Edgecliff station in the city’s east, and Chatswood on Sydney’s north shore were not on the leaked list.

We urge the Government to think big and take every opportunity to drive housing supply – particularly in areas like these where there is such strong demand for housing and abundant  transport infrastructure capacity.

With the Government’s statement that housing is its top priority, the Department of Planning must expedite timelines to ensure the path is clear to start delivering the 45,000 new homes that the Government believes it can help deliver by 2027.

Chris Minns and Paul Scully need to ride DPE to deliver. They must not allow DPE to continue to be the bottle neck on housing supply that it was under the former Government when  everything went backwards.''

The timeframes included in the leaked material set long timeframes for the DPE precinct planning work. Areas like Crows Nest, Macquarie Park, Bella Vista and Bankstown have  already been subject to extensive strategic planning work.

Amending that work should be able to be done in a matter of months – by March 2024 at the latest. A crisis demands urgent action – and the timeframes that have been foreshadowed  are just too slow.''

Under the National Housing Accord, NSW needs to deliver 377,000 new homes in the five years starting July 1, 2024. That means we must lift our game in NSW from the current annual completions rate of just over 40,000 to 76,000 a year from the middle of next year.

The leaked announcement is a solid downpayment showing the Government is now “walking the walk” as well as “talking the talk” when it comes to the reform to the planning system  needed to deliver the housing supply we need.'' Mr. Forrest said

NSW Planning leadership team

Kiersten Fishburn is the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment. In her role, Kiersten oversees a diverse portfolio spanning our natural resources and the environment, heritage, planning, land and housing, and local government.

Kiersten has worked in the public service for two decades, across multiple portfolios and two tiers of government.

She brings great enthusiasm and energy to her roles. She’s widely ambitious and passionate about delivering thriving environments, communities and helping NSW achieve its full potential.

Most recently, Kiersten was Deputy Secretary, Cities & Active Transport at Transport for NSW, focusing on ensuring our cities and neighbourhoods are integrated with transport, making places, streets and open spaces functional, beautiful, inclusive and inviting for all to enjoy.

Prior to joining Transport, Kiersten led the Planning Delivery Unit (PDU) in the Department of Planning Industry and Environment. She was also the CEO of Liverpool City Council, and held leadership roles with Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre and Accessible Arts and City of Sydney.

The full NSW Planning leadership team is listed here.