Ku-ring-gai’s Housing Strategy – Further changes!

Ku-ring-gai Council is preparing yet another Residential Housing Strategy, a planning process driven by the NSW Dept of Planning to periodically rezone more and more of our established garden suburbs for ever denser and taller apartment blocks.

As we have expressed in earlier articles, Council is expected by the State Government to plan new housing for a population increase in Ku-ring-gai of 25,000 people from 2016 to 2036.

This Draft Ku-ring-gai Housing Strategy (KHS) is now on Exhibition until May 8. We urge you to review the Strategy at Draft_Ku-ring-gai_Housing_Strategy_to_2036. 

The KHS is proposing 10,660 new medium and high-density dwellings to 2036.  This is additional to the 13,000 new dwellings Ku-ring-gai has already approved in the last 15 years, and equates to a staggering 41% population increase since 2006.

The KHS is the last step prior to new zoning and Local Environment Plans being introduced later this year or 2021 and Council needs to hear your views on this Strategy.

This strategy will add large tracts of medium and high density dwellings within 800 metres of rail  or main transport nodes, initially focused on four Primary local centres Lindfield, Gordon, Turramurra and St Ives. On average, from 2021 to 2036, a high 1,660 new dwellings per Primary Local Centre.

Lindfield, Gordon, Killara and St Ives are acknowledged by Council as having borne the weight of the previous 20% population increase in Ku-ring-gai to 2018. Yet Lindfield, Gordon and St Ives are being targeted again, with Turramurra, to take 100% of the new growth! This is unsustainable.

Increased heights of apartment towers to 10-15 storeys are proposed for the Primary Local Centres with up to 20 storeys for Gordon town centre. Outside of these Primary Centres, other areas including neighbourhood centres, are being investigated for medium density up to a 400 metre radius.

It is important that your voice is heard on this important Strategy. For details of our concerns from an assessment of the full range of accompanying documents, please see FOKE Letter to Ku-ring-gai residents.

To assist you with points or ideas for a submission please see Guideline for Draft Housing Strategy submission April 2020

FOKE and other community groups participated in the community workshops in December 2019 and February 2020 and responses from these workshops have raised a number of concerns:

  • That Council decisions are being overridden, by the State Government, Sydney North Planning Panel and Land and Environment Court.
  • There needs to be better protection for the local character, heritage, and our ‘green’ environment.
  • That development of the strategy should include accompanying studies on water, sewerage, parking and infrastructure;
  • The need for affordable housing, not just luxury units, combined with the impact of overseas investment where our local character is not valued.
  • Council is not addressing areas that require more urgent focus: new facilities, new parks, footpaths, run off, impacts of an increasing population, school capacity, congestion and development of an urban forest strategy.
  • Detached houses should remain the predominant dwelling type as this is the preference of residents, as supported by numerous surveys.
  • There was a strong preference for medium density (townhouses/villas) rather than high density (apartments) for new dwellings that must be supported in zoning and targets.

Where are the updated Baseline studies that were essential in the development of the last Residential Development Strategy in 2002?   The four baseline studies were Heritage and Neighbourhood Character, Infrastructure, Environment and Traffic and Transport Studies. The studies assisted council in planning this strategy and in protecting the heritage and the environment of Ku-ring-gai.  The cumulative impact of the layering of development must be considered before planning for more development and whether it is ecologically sustainable.

Again and again our growth targets are being updated over short timeframes and approved growth not included in the revised targets.

Council has acknowledged that the 4000 new dwellings required for Ku-ring-gai as part of the North District Plan during the 5 year period from 2016 to 2021 will be met through existing approvals and zonings.

The net new dwelling target for Ku-ring-gai is 10,660 to 2036. Excluding the 4,000 already agreed as deliverable, that leaves 6,660 net new dwellings remaining over the remaining 15 years. With 3,000 in Stage 2 to 2026, and 1,800 new dwellings in each of Stage 3 to 2031, and Stage 4 to 2036.

FOKE contends that more than half of these requirements can be dealt with under existing zoning, especially around town centres. As such minimal, if any, rezonings should be required to reach the 2036 target. This is, however, not what is shown in the Draft Housing Strategy.

We expect Council to adhere to the statement on their website, that they ‘can deliver the additional dwellings while protecting and enhancing our much-loved local character’.