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The Minns government will rezone 400 metres of land surrounding 31 Sydney train stations to speed up the construction of tens of thousands of new homes, but developers building major high-rise projects will be given a two-year deadline to begin work.
In a win for developers who had urged the government to fast-track approvals to meet the daunting housing targets set under the National Housing Accord, areas surrounding train stations earmarked for medium density will not be required to undergo laborious rezoning applications.
Roseville is one of 31 heavy-rail stations around which the government plans to allow for greater density.Credit: Steven Siewert
But the quid-pro-quo arrangement will compel developers who pitch major high-rise projects to begin construction within two years in a bid to expedite construction and prevent land banking.
On Tuesday, the Herald revealed the government will rezone land around eight Metro and heavy-use rail stations to provide for 47,800 new homes by 2027, while also amending planning rules near another 31 train stations around Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle as part of its signature housing push.
The plans were accidentally published online and also confirmed the government will proceed with the Metro West project between the CBD and Westmead after The Bays station was included as one of the eight priority precincts.
The accidental release infuriated senior figures inside the government. Speaking at an Urban Development Institute of Australia lunch on Wednesday, the NSW Planning Secretary Kiersten Fishburn described the bungled release as a “systems failure”.
The planning overhaul will be broken into two tiers. The eight major rezoning precincts make up tier one, and will rezone land within 1200 metres of heavy-use rail and Metro stations. Tier two comprises fast rezoning of land within 400 metres of 31 heavy-use rail stations.
Details of the planning overhaul reveal that the eight tier one rezoning precincts will comprise a mandated 15 per cent affordable housing quota in perpetuity, while the cost of the additional social infrastructure needed to support the massive population influx would be partially funded via value capture.
The government said the tier one sites will open up a new State Significant Development pathway for proposals of $60 million or more.
The NSW Property Council has been lobbying the government to include snap-rezonings. The 31 tier two sites have been “identified as being capable of accommodating new homes within existing enabling infrastructure”, the government said.
Premier Chris Minns said the density surge was critical to resolving a housing crisis that was preventing young people from not just owning a home but being able to enter Sydney’s overheated rental market.
“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,” he said.
Following the accidental release of the government’s plans, industry groups questioned why parts of the inner west and east had been excluded from suburbs marked for increased density.
While Minns and Treasurer Daniel Mookhey insisted the eastern suburbs needed to shoulder more of the city’s housing burden, none of the affluent seaside suburbs were included.
Roseville made the list of suburbs targeted by new housing rules.Credit: Steven Siewert
Describing the leaked government plans as a “blessing in disguise”, Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest welcomed the announcement but said he had concerns about the slow timeframe and exclusion of the eastern suburbs and north shore.
“We are a little bemused that Edgecliff, Bondi Junction and Chatswood were not on the initial list of targeted stations,” he said.
While the density push has been welcomed by most industry groups, Property Council NSW executive director Katie Stevenson criticised the government’s lack of ambition, saying it failed to take advantage of locations with transport capacity, including on the City and Southwest Metro line and the Northwest line.
Councils affected by the generational housing shift were also critical of the proposal, suggesting it could delay plans already in the pipeline.
The mayors of two councils — Peter Gangemi in The Hills and Zoe Baker in North Sydney — questioned how the government’s plans would affect land surrounding Metro stations already set for increased density.
On Tuesday, The Hills agreed to enter a planning agreement with Landcom over government land at Kellyville and Bella Vista, which is zoned for an additional 5700 homes. The precinct surrounding the two Metro stations is zoned to take a total of 8400 homes over the next five years.
Gangemi said the leaked announcement raised significant doubts about how the government would progress those plans.
“This land has already been rezoned by government and is nearing the point in the process where construction of homes can commence,” he said.
“To completely re-examine and go back to the start will only push the construction of new housing further down the road.”
Councils included in the second stage of the announcement questioned why the government hadn’t consulted them in the months leading up to the announcement. Ku-ring-gai mayor Sam Ngai said the “secrecy” surrounding the proposal meant it was impossible for councils to progress their own plans.
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