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Affordable Housing

Background provided by Mayor Michael Regan.

With the Northern Beaches Hospital close to completion and the increasing population across Sydney, boarding houses are emerging as a viable option to meet the demand for affordable housing.

We need to be clear however that such developments are aimed at key workers and are not PUBLIC housing. Sadly there are still some misconceptions in the community on that front. The demand to provide affordable housing is increasing on the Northern Beaches and as such we are seeing increasing numbers of development applications under the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) Affordable Rental Housing which effectively overrides Council’s planning controls for this type of development. This is creating a problem in ordinary residential zonings where you typically see the average lot size and residential home. In 2011, our community had the same concerns.

As the former Mayor of Warringah, I put forward a Mayoral Minute that was adopted and we wrote to the then Minister for Planning and Infrastructure seeking the immediate repeal of SEPP Affordable Housing and that the Minister essentially review and install a new policy in partnership and consultation with individual councils. The Minister was also requested to direct local councils and the Department of Planning to put on hold and or refuse all current applications before them, should the local Council assessment deem it a refusal on planning grounds under normal planning controls. In 2018 nothing has changed and we are looking at essentially the same issue. Council is now receiving numerous applications under this SEPP with little or no power to refuse, even though they are clearly inconsistent with Council’s planning intentions for the area particularly large lot residential streets. Councillors are very aware of the impacts to local residents. We are speaking to concerned residents daily particularly in relation to developments in Wheeler Heights, Frenchs Forest and Allambie Heights to name a few recent examples. Specifically, there are issues around the immediate loss of amenity through lack of onsite parking required in the SEPP, concentration of units and townhouses where they were once not permitted (low density areas). Then there is the future use of these developments when they are no longer classified as Affordable Housing under the legislation – currently ten years. One development proposal has had three blocks of land where once three houses stood, to be replaced with 100 units on the site. We have to again ask the question of the State Government as to what they intended when they created the SEPP. Affordable housing is critical and the local Councils along with the State Government should be working together to find suitable sites in its boundaries with suitable targets, that will meet the current and future demands. We need to limit the permissibility of these boarding houses in certain locations after considering the public transport, retail and commercial areas and likely employment opportunities given the intent is to provide housing for key workers. We also need to consider the environmental constraints of land rather than a blanket approach of application in a particular zone. (eg foreshore areas, steeply sloping sites). Then, do we want to have a street turned into units as each house sells where again, it is not zoned for the said purpose. It makes it impossible to plan the right infrastructure and amenity for the neighbourhood. And let’s not ignore traffic implication. Car use is especially high on the Northern Beaches given the lack of quality reliable rapid Transport Infrastructure.

Council needs to be able to apply the controls of Council’s DCP to any application – SEPP developments should not be exempt. This way we can ensure proper consideration is given to things such as the setback, heights, building envelope and parking which is already a major problem in our community. We are able to ensure the amenity of the local neighbourhood is considered and protected. There needs to be a density control so that we don’t end up with 100 units on three blocks of land.

I reiterate what I and the former Warringah Council said seven years ago and that is that the State Government needs to actively work with local councils and its communities to identify the areas that are amenable to affordable housing developments rather than destroy local neighbourhoods with medium to high density developments. We need a target and we need to priorities a plan for where we can deliver genuine affordable housing. This Council is actively doing that and yet another reason why we should be spared from this horror SEPP.

NOTE: With the agreement of the Mayor and Councilors Amon, Sprott and Walton, the recommendation of this item is combined with part of 11.8 Notice of Motion 08/2018 - Frenchs Forest Rezoning, Planning Proposals and 11.13 Notice of Motion 13/2018 - Review of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009, Division 3 Boarding Houses.

020/18 RESOLVED Cr Regan


A. Council writes to the Minister for Planning to seek a review of the SEPP to provide for this much needed type of housing but in a form that respects local character and the amenity of the whole community and allows us to plan infrastructure to support them. Public transport, parking on site (or alternatives such as Car share) and Density controls should be immediately amended / included in the review.

B. Council commit to work with the State Government to deliver appropriate affordable housing outcomes for the Northern Beaches.

C. Council supports orderly planning processes.

D. Council in view of the fact that traffic and congestion have never been worse in the Northern Beaches local government area, Council calls upon the State Government to plan for and put in place as a matter of the utmost priority appropriate and environmentally sustainable major road and public transport infrastructure that will alleviate present and likely future traffic and congestion

E. Council writes to the NSW Government Minister for Planning, and all Northern Beaches State MPs urging a moratorium and review of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental House) 2009, including insofar as it relates to boarding houses, with such review to consider the following changes (as well as other possible changes arising during the course of the review): a. limiting the zoning type in which boarding house developments can occur by reducing the distance they must be from transport hubs and B2 and B4 zones, or by prohibiting boarding house development in certain residential zones

b. increasing the number of car spaces per boarding house room.

F. Council write to the New South Wales Minister for Planning, the Honourable Anthony Roberts MP, requesting the imposition of a freeze on the current SEPP 2009 dealing with boarding houses, in view of commencing a review of Division 3 of that SEPP. This review should consider amongst other issues that:

a. the guidelines applying to car parking of the SEPP do not address the adverse implications and impositions which may be inflicted upon the variance of local communities. The Northern Beaches Council recommends to the Minister that as a minimum, the car parking requirements should meet the criteria which local councils car parking requirements are applicable to that of a one bedroom apartment b. the Minister take into account the differences in makeup of local government areas, and apply differential development criteria dependent upon the location i.e. consider the Development Control Plans which are applicable to each local government area.

VOTING FOR: Unanimous


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