Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has voiced concerns over the NSW Government’s low-rise medium density housing rules, which come into effect for all councils today, fearing it will make it harder for councils to uphold community confidence in an orderly development system that supports the local character of their areas.
LGNSW President Linda Scott said the goal of the Code was to provide greater housing choice by creating low rise terrace-style housing alternatives to apartment developments.
“While councils strongly support the need for more diverse housing, some are highly concerned that a code that removes consultation with neighbours and provides a blanket approach with generic design and amenity standards will result in developments that are poorly matched to existing local character,” Cr Scott said.
“While recent amendments to the Code have gone some way to addressing councils’ calls for a more nuanced approach, LGNSW supports the view that councils are always best placed to deliver housing diversity that is the best fit for local character and contributes to making great living places.
“Councils and their communities have been successfully progressing their strategic planning work to decide where and in what form they want to accommodate new housing growth.
“The NSW Government should support this work by allowing councils to retain the power to decide on individual developments, ensuring the right balance between the need for different forms and size of housing that support existing amenity and local community expectations.”
Cr Scott said LGNSW has had ongoing discussions with Government on behalf of councils over concerns around implementing the new overarching Code and welcomed revisions that have addressed some of those concerns.
“But there are other issues that remain. One longstanding concern of councils is that the Code allows developments to be approved without a development application being submitted to council,” she said.
“Instead of being assessed by professional planners, they are approved by certifiers, and we’ve seen the failings of the private certification system.
“Reforms designed to fix the system are not due until later this year. Our concern is that this will most likely lead to more non-compliant developments in the future and further erode public confidence in the planning system.”
Cr Scott said LGNSW would continue to advocate to the NSW Government on behalf of councils to ensure certifier-approved buildings met the standards of local amenity and public safety under the new Code.