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LOCAL STRATEGIC PLANNING STATEMENTS Case Study: planning for housing demand in The Hills Shire

Posted By Jim Davies Principal Planner  
11:13 AM

As Mr Gadiel of Mills Oakley remarked in his recent blog ( ), preparation of this new layer of the NSW planning cake, local strategic planning statements (LSPS), has been delayed again. As with perhaps all new recipes, some trial and error is needed to get it right and councils have been given more time to refine their recipes. And the inherent politicking that accompanies local and state government decision-making means Councils meeting extended guidelines is unlikely. On this point, I cannot but agree with Mr Gadiel, who concluded that these delays will mean that metropolitan planning for key locations may not reflect the NSW Government’s strategic expectations, by being translated into local planning frameworks.

To this implication, I would add that if delays extend from months into years, the glossy, expensive Three Cities Vision of the Greater Sydney Commission will begin to collect cyber-dust on the digital shelves of NSW. Seriously, this means the efficacy of the policies therein runs the risk of being eroded. This damage will be irreparable, if let go for too long, and a ‘review’ will be on the cards before too long.

There is an undercurrent to these state-level activities, spearheaded by the work of the Greater Sydney Commission and the Department of Planning’s preceding plans for the metropolitan region, that by my reckoning extends back to the late ‘90s. That is, more directives from state government to local government on strategic planning, meaning less autonomy for councils in determining their future. This long term trend may have contributed to councils’ reluctance to prepare their local statements. Another contributing factor has been the state government expecting councils to do more with less, when devolution of state powers to local councils is considered, over an even longer period.

Case Study: The Hills Shire’s draft Local Strategic Planning Statement.

In contrast, one of the better-resourced metropolitan Councils, The Hills Shire, considered their draft LSPS at a recent meeting. The draft LSPS and numerous supporting documents are on exhibition and submissions invited, until August 9. As GDS does a fair bit of work in this Council’s area and the draft LSPS probably has implications for our clients and us, we have reviewed it and made observations about some of the statement’s key initiatives. As our core business is delivery of lots and housing in urban release areas, we have focussed on related aspects of the draft statement.

Planning priority 6: plan for housing supply to support Sydney’s growing population, establishes housing targets, stating there is capacity for delivery of 38,000 dwellings between 2016 and 2036 within the Shire:

  •  9,500 (2016-2021)
  •  9,000 (2021- 2026)
  •  19,500 (2026 – 2036)

Another 38,100 dwellings can be provided beyond 2036, according to the statement.

Between 2016 and 2036, the statement and the supporting draft housing strategy relies on new housing being provided in infill areas and the precincts of several stations on the Sydney Metro line, and in these greenfield, or urban release areas:

  •  Balmoral Road
  •  North Kellyville
  •  Box Hill, and
  •  Box Hill North.

The graph (reproduced below) in Figure 18: Estimated rate of development to 2036 (p. 43 of the LSPS) indicates dwellings will mainly be provided, we assume, as apartments after 2025 in infill areas and station precincts. The graph also shows the supply of land for mainly low and medium density housing in release areas will reduce and be all but exhausted between 2025 and 2035.

Estimated rate of development to 2036 (The Hills Shire Council)


Case Study: planning for housing demand in The Hills Shire

Estimated rate of development to 2036 (The Hills Shire Council)

With Council assuming this turn of events will eventuate, the draft housing strategy (pp. 18 & 19) observes:

However the projected capacity in low and medium density housing areas will not be able to accommodate all new family households. Accordingly, a proportion of high density dwellings must be able to accommodate these larger households.

With Council acknowledging that there will be ongoing demand for dwellings other than apartments, land with potential for urban rezoning (for mainly low and medium density housing) is identified by the draft housing strategy, bordered by the existing Box Hill North precinct, Old Pitt Town Rad and Boundary Road.

This land parcel is about 85ha in area. Assuming a dwelling density of 17.5 dwellings per hectare (our estimate of densities achieved in release areas in the Sydney’s North West Growth Sector) this parcel could provide around another 1,500 dwellings, although Council estimates it could deliver up to 1,800 dwellings, after 2036.

Combined, the strategy expects the four release areas to provide at least 14,400 dwellings in the long term (beyond 2036).

Assuming additional land at Box Hill North was rezoned and made serviceable with basic utilities by 2025, and that the land may accommodate say half the total supply (1,900 dwellings per annum on average, according to Council), this rezoning would provide an additional supply of land for family homes for only another 2 or 3 years, sometime in the mid to late 2020s.

Based on the foregoing, we make these ‘high-level’ observations:

  1. Densities achieved to date appear to be lower than Council’s estimates. Considerable proportions of urban release land have already been developed, especially in North Kellyville and Balmoral Road. Taking these factors into account, development of remaining land may not reach the targets of the draft housing strategy and the land zoned or identified for housing may develop more quickly than projected.
  2. There is no further land release planned in The Hills, apart from “…land zoned or strategically identified”.
  3. In the absence of any new land supply, Council appears to rely on a possibly significant proportion of medium to long term demand being satisfied by apartment development in infill areas and station precincts.
  4. This approach could-well lead to large households (families) looking elsewhere for a new house, as demand for houses on their own lot will likely continue into the next decade and beyond.
  5. Consequently, there is scope to consider other land releases for the medium to long term, beyond exhaustion of current and planned supplies, as proposed by Council’s draft housing strategy.
  6. To provide strategic guidance for sustainable urban extensions in the future, Council could consider identifying land for urban investigation, for low and medium density housing.
  7. Given the lead-in period for land use and infrastructure planning, inclusion of investigation areas in the Housing Strategy and the Local Strategic Planning Statement is appropriate.

In closing we commend The Hills Shire Council in taking the initiative to review it’s land use strategy (the current strategy was produced in 2008). We look forward to Council’s review of submissions and finalisation of The Hill’s Local Strategic Planning Statement.

If you own land in The Hills Shire, or anywhere else for that matter, and would like to discuss what the impacts of the strategy may have on your property’s future development capability, we are here to help. Please contact Matt Bressa or me should you wish to discuss this article or how we may be able to support your planning and land development needs.

Land identified by Council’s Residential Strategy, for potential urban zoning, coloured light brown, east of Boundary Road and north of Old Pitt Town Road.