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 FOKE newsletter articles, Council is expected by the State Government to plan new housing for a population increase of 31,000 people from 2016 to 2036, this is another 25% increase or a total 50% increase in population since 2006!

This ‘new’ housing strategy is being completed via a series of community workshops that began last December. In total, approximately 15 workshops to gauge community views. However will these be listened to, or is this just tokenistic as part of the process laid down by the Greater Sydney Commission in its attempt to appear consultative.

FOKE and other community groups have participated in these workshops and responses from the initial 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.
  • Need to better protect the local character, heritage, and our ‘green’ environment.
  • Development of the strategy should include accompanying studies on water, sewerage, parking and infrastructure; the need for affordable housing not just luxury units; the impact of overseas investment, where the 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, congestion and development of an urban forest strategy.
  • Detached houses should remain the predominant dwelling type as this is the preference of residents.
  • Preference for medium density (townhouses/villas) rather than high density (apartments) for new dwellings.

The timeline as published on the Ku-ring-gai Council website is that February will see the completion of the Community and Stakeholder workshops/focus groups, with the Draft Housing Strategy being presented for exhibition in April to May. Expected to be the required minimum 6 weeks, with finalisation in June 2020.

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 targets for Ku-ring-gai are expected to be 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. If reasonably paced, this is 2,220 new dwellings per 5 year period across Ku-ring-gai.

FOKE contends that more than half of this can be dealt with under existing zoning, especially around town centres. As such only minimal, if any, rezonings will be required to reach the 2036 target.

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’.