Media Release: Housing Package Promising But More Detail Needed

1 June 2017

The NSW Government’s new housing package appeared to contain some promising ideas but was somewhat light on the detail, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said today.
LGNSW President Keith Rhoades said the sector welcomed many components of the package as good for local communities in the growth years to come.
One very positive move was the decision to lift caps on development contributions for infrastructure, in order to ensure that new dwellings were supported by the necessary roads, footpaths and open spaces. 
Clr Rhoades welcomed funding assistance of up to $2.5 million for “growth priority councils” to assist them to update their Local Environment Plans (LEPs) more swiftly.
“It’s great news that these 10-15 councils will be supported to plan for future growth, but we are a little concerned at the suggestion that councils should accelerate the rezoning of land,” he said.
“Rezoning needs good strategic planning at a local level, and it’s important that we don’t give this up in the pursuit of speed at all costs. 
“The Government has pledged new guidelines to protect the local character of communities, but it’s far from clear that these guidelines will have any strength behind them.
“We’re also pleased that despite suggestions otherwise, the Government hasn’t moved straight to mandatory planning panels,” he said.
“These panels work very effectively for some councils, but other councils don’t see the need for them – it really needs to be a matter of local choice.
“We also strongly support the Government’s commitment to allow up to $500 million in half-price infrastructure loans from Treasury Corp or banks, but we’d like more detail on this.
“However LGNSW is concerned at the removal of District Commissioners from Sydney planning panels.
“The Government previously promoted these well-informed experts as critical to the work of the Greater Sydney Commission, and councils were part of their selection, so it’s a worry that they appear to have become unnecessary in such a short time.
“LGNSW congratulates the Government on its efforts to do what it can to support housing affordability, and there’s nothing we’d like more to do than to come out and praise their efforts.
“Unfortunately until there is more detailed information available it really seems to be a case of the devil will lie in the detail.”
Media Enquiries
LGNSW President, Cr Keith Rhoades: 0408 256 405
Media, Toni Allan: 0412 774 441