Housing Supply and Planning

Published on: March 2024

Record: HANSARD-1323879322-139738

Housing Supply and Planning

Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (23:41:10):

In recent weeks and months I have met with and heard from many constituents in my local community who have shared with me their deep concerns and frustrations with the proposed changes to the New South Wales planning system. I will share some of those concerns on behalf of my community with members of this place. New South Wales needs greater housing supply, but we must ensure it is done well and done sustainably. There is a housing crisis and renters like me are being hit the hardest.

However, before we undertake huge changes to the planning system in New South Wales, we must ensure we are doing it in the right way. We need good strategic planning, not a lazy one-size-fits-all non-policy. My community is very dense—we are vibrant and inner urban, and there is a high proportion of strata properties. We love the bustle and the energy—Mr Temporary Speaker knows my community very well—and our status as a dense inner‑urban community dates back many decades.

We are very happy to have density done well. I live in an apartment and I love raising my children in an apartment. But in the meetings I have held and the correspondence I have received, one sentiment resounds very clearly—an apprehension regarding the planning changes proposed by the Minns Labor Government. Those concerns are not borne out of any resistance to progress, innovation or change, but rather from a deep-seated desire to safeguard the integrity of our communities and the environment in which they thrive.

One of the most prevalent concerns expressed is the potential loss of the few green spaces and recreational areas we have. Moreover, there needs to be more certainty regarding the potential loss of heritage and historical landmarks in the face of new developments. Like me, my constituents cherish the rich tapestry of history and culture that defines our neighbourhoods and villages, and they are rightly concerned about the erosion of those valuable assets. Across the North Shore community are areas of conservation that the changes could significantly impact. Areas such as the Bydown terraces, Harrison Street in Neutral Bay and Hayberry Street in Crows Nest contain terraces and homes that are over 100 years old. One Lavender Bay resident noted that they:

… object to the current conservation and heritage zones/properties being overridden. The community has worked hard to maintain some history and character, and this new zoning ignores all this.

A collaborative and united approach is needed to allow the local community to meaningfully address the housing crisis while ensuring we do not irrevocably damage what we love and value about our local area. Additionally, there are concerns about the potential strain on existing infrastructure and services, and the need for existing infrastructure to service any significant new developments in my local community.

Those members who have travelled along Spit and Military roads will know that traffic on local roads in my electorate is a key issue, particularly across Neutral Bay, Cremorne and Mosman. The Military Road‑Spit Road corridor is one of the most congested in Australia. With the cancellation of the Beaches Link tunnel by Labor and Transport for NSW undertaking an internal review of the State's key corridors—without any community engagement, I might add, which is a real shame and an indictment on its process—further increasing density across these suburbs will only add to traffic congestion on our local roads. This congestion is not only the bottlenecks on that road corridor but also the rat-running on our local streets and the risks it presents to kids walking to school, people trying to get the bus and the overall safety of people in our communities.

It is also worth noting that bus services are still running to a reduced timetable. Many buses are already full by the time they reach my community at Spit and Neutral Bay junctions from the northern beaches. Being a downstream community, we are impacted by everybody who comes through, whether it be on public transport or our roads. One Mosman resident noted:

The capacity of key infrastructure and essential services such as water and sewerage, electricity and telecommunications, schools, hospitals, parks, sporting grounds, roads and public transport, must be considered.

Consideration must be given to ensure that local communities can access adequate services and amenities. This can only be achieved on a case‑by‑case basis with local communities, not a wideranging blanket reform that ignores these considerations. Furthermore, there are concerns relating to what constitutes a "town centre" under the new changes. Many local villages across the North Shore community could meet these criteria, yet it is unclear whether they would be included or excluded from the proposed changes.

While councils do not always get everything right, many do have advanced strategic and master planning processes in place, one example being the current plan out for Neutral Bay. The department should work closely with these councils instead of imposing a blanket approach that ignores the individual needs of each community. I thank members of my community for sharing their views with me. I want to make sure that any changes are guided by equity and sustainability into the future.

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