February 25 - March 2, 2024: Issue 615


Inquiry Into Transport-Oriented Development + well located homes program established

On Friday February 23 the NSW Parliament established an Inquiry into the Transport-Oriented Development State Environment Planning Policy (TOD SEPP) as well as the diverse and well located homes program. These changes are part of a series of changes that the State Government is implementing in order to meet their pre-election housing targets and will result in density changes without Council or community consent.

The well located homes proposed reforms seek to:

  • Allow dual occupancies (two separate homes on a single lot), such as duplexes, in all R2 low density residential zones across all of NSW.
  • Allow terraces, townhouses and 2 storey apartment blocks near train stations and key town centres in R2 low density residential zones across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra Shoalhaven (Six Cities Region).
  • Allow mid-rise apartment blocks near train stations and key town centres in R3 medium density zones across the Six Cities Region; Mid-rise housing is 3–6 storey apartment buildings or mixed-use buildings with ground floor shops and apartments above.
  • Introduce new planning controls, such as floor space and height allowances, that encourage low- and mid-rise housing in well-located areas.

The department of planning 'well located homes' webpage states it has held briefings and workshops with many councils and other stakeholder groups, and 'The department will consult further with individual councils to work to resolve potential issues to ensure the policy achieves the best housing outcomes for the community.'

See Issue 614 report: State Government Planning Changes For Medium To High Density Triggers Call To Provide Feedback

Greens MP, spokesperson for Planning and Chair of the Inquiry, Sue Higginson said “Transport-oriented development is not a new idea, and working towards greater density around railway and metro infrastructure is a positive ambition,”

“I have received dozens of requests, from all across Sydney and the relevant regions, asking for assistance in understanding and challenging the proposed changes. These requests have come from Councillors, council staff and members of the community. 

There is broad concern that the Government’s heavy-handed approach that will override councils and silence communities, instead of working with them, will lead to unsustainable and poor outcomes for local communities and environments,”

“Without consultation and community consent, Premier Minns’ plan for densification will result in resistance and conflict between Councils and the State Government. Councils are worried about the loss of tree cover, pressure on public amenities and an overall reduction in housing quality that will occur if these changes are not adjusted to allow for meaningful local input,”

“Of particular concern is that publicly owned and operated housing has not been considered at all in these changes despite us living in a cost of living and homelessness crisis. Even the affordable housing that could be constructed under this plan will only be 15% of the total homes and will revert to full price housing after 15 years,”

On Tuesday February 20 NSW Lands Minister, The Hon. Stephen Kamper, deferred from directly answering questions on the first day of NSW Budget Estimates about whether the sale of up to $11.5 billion in public land would be adequately protected from privatisation and corrupt processes.

Greens spokesperson for Planning and Environment Sue Higginson said “NSW Labor promised voters at the last election that the privatisation regime of the Perrottet Coalition government was over and there would be no public asset sales under a Minns Labor Government. This conviction appears to have completely evaporated.”

“This morning, the Minister was unable or unwilling to repeat that election promise and indicated that the $11.5 billion worth of public lands in NSW could be put up for sale to private developers. If his government truly opposes the sale of public assets, the Minister should be able to guarantee that these public places will not be carved up and sold off to private interests for a profit.” Ms Higginson stated

“What’s worse, Mr Kamper was unable to say whether firm anti-corruption safeguard measures would be applied to the audit and its recommendations. We’ve just seen senior planning officials referred to ICAC, with credible evidence they personally benefited from insider information about the government’s housing plan. Unfortunately, officials and developers in NSW have form on this. $11.5 billion of public land is at stake. That demands serious safeguarding.”

“When asked about public housing on public land the Minister recommitted to the target of 30% affordable housing, which he could not define, and social housing, which is privately administered. This government that so stridently opposed privatisation failed to so much as understand the difference between social and public housing. Things are really not looking good.”

“This inquiry is a much needed opportunity to help the Government to make any proposed reforms better. Planning reforms need to empower local government and local communities otherwise they don’t work. Social licence in planning and environment policies and programs is fundamental to social and environmental well being and the best possible outcomes for homeowners, renters, the wider community and the environment. To get out of the housing crisis, we need more than just developer led solutions, the silencing of local input and a flat increase in the number of dwellings. We need safe, secure, sustainable and affordable housing that is subject to stringent planning controls that increase community amenity,” Ms Higginson said.

The Inquiry is open for submissions until March 28, 2024.

The Terms of Reference include that Portfolio Committee No. 7 – Planning and Environment inquire into and report on the development of the Transport Oriented Development Program (TOD), and in particular the analysis, identification or selection undertaken by the Government, the Premier's Department, The Cabinet Office or the Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure (Department) along with consultations undertaken with councils, joint regional organisations and communities during the preparation of the Transport Oriented Development Program State Environmental  Planning Policy.

Also listed among the 18 Terms of Reference to inquire into and report on are:

  • ongoing opportunities for review and input by councils, joint regional organisations and communities, including consultations with renters, key workers and young people needing  affordable housing in relation to the Transport Oriented Development Program State Environmental Planning Policy, 
  • the impacts of the proposed Diverse and Well-Located Homes process and program
  • the capability of Greater Sydney to provide for increased residential dwelling where the existing capacity has been diminished due to the effects of climate change
  • the adequacy of measures to deter and punish the misuse of confidential market sensitive government information and the future processes that should be put in place

The committee report is scheduled to be delivered by 27 September 2024.