NSW Govt Planning Proposals – Which Lane Cove Properties are Impacted?

    Housing unaffordability is no longer an individual problem for the poor or disadvantaged. We now have a housing problem.  This is a quote from an opinion piece by Professor Cameron ParsellDr Ella Kuskoff and Professor Tim Reddel.

    How does the NSW Government fix the housing issue?

    NSW  Premier Chris Minns believes that planning laws have to be radically revamped to solve the problem.  Local councils accept that there is a housing crisis and that something must be done but believe that the one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

    What are the Proposed Changes?

    In late November 2023, the NSW Government announced changes to planning laws with the aim of fast-tracking a greater diversity of homes like residential flat buildings of 3 to 6-storeys, terraces, townhouses, duplexes and smaller 1-storey to 2-storey apartment blocks in suburbs where they are not currently allowed.    A media release was issued, however there was a time delay before the Department of Planning published a fact sheet outlining the changes.

    To fast-track approvals, the State Government is planning to override the current local council limitations on the type of development permitted in suburbs and local centres.

    These are the permissibility changes being proposed:

      • Allowing two dwellings on the same lot, also known as dual occupancy/duplex, in all R2 low-density residential zones across the Lane Cove Local Government area for properties with an area of greater than 450sqm and width of 12m.Currently, the minimum land size for a dual occupancy in Lane Cove is:
        • for dual occupancy (attached)- 750 square metres
        • for dual occupancy (detached) – 900 square metres
      • In addition, allowing many properties in R2 low-density zones within 800m walking distance of a train station (St Leonards and Wollstonecraft) or within 800 metres walking distance of Lane Cove Village or other land zoned E2 Commercial Centre or, alternatively, land zoned E1 Local Centre or MU1 Mixed Use (with a full-line supermarket) to develop as terrace houses and manor houses (minimum land size 500 sqm) or townhouses (minimum land size 600 sq m).


    • Allowing Residential Flat Buildings and shop top housing up to 21 metres (7 storeys) in R3 medium-density residential zones that are within 400m walking distance of a train station (St Leonards and Wollstonecraft) and the Lane Cove Village or other land zoned E2 Commercial Centre, E1 Local Centre, or MU1 Mixed Use with a full line supermarket.
    • Allowing Residential Flat Buildings up to 16 metres (5 storeys) in R3 medium-density residential zones that are between 400m and 800m walking distance of a train station (St Leonards and Wollstonecraft) and the Lane Cove Village or other land zoned E2 Commercial Centre or alternatively land zoned E1 Local Centre, or MU1 Mixed Use with a full line supermarket


    The NSW government is asking for feedback on the proposal until 23 February 2024 to provide feedback click here –  NSW Government’s planning website.

    For information on the current zoning of your land, check NSW Planning Portal Spatial Viewer.

    Further Information on the proposed changes is available here.

    How Can I Find Out More?

    Lane Cove Council hosted a Community Information Session about how the NSW Government’s proposed changes will impact Lane Cove on Tuesday, 20 February 2024.

    Watch the presentation here.

    Download the slideshow from the presentation here.

    Transport Orientated Development Program

    In addition to the above changes, the NSW Government has also announced the Transport Oriented Development (TOD) program.

    Further information about the Transport Oriented Development program can be found here.

    As part of this program, the NSW government wants to deliver state-led rezonings within 1,200 metres of 8 priority transport hubs. These precincts are known as the TOD Accelerated Precincts.

    In December last year, the precinct around the Crows Nest Metro was nominated as one of the 8 priority high growth areas near transport hubs in greater Sydney for accelerated rezoning.

    When ITC asked the Lane Cove Council if they were going to provide further information on the TOD as it would impact St Leonards South and Greenwich (and area that is already undergoing numerous large scale apartment developments) a Lane Cove spokesperson told ITC:

    “The TOD reforms relate to the Crows Nest Metro.  Councils that were impacted by the proposed TOD planning work were contacted by the department, Lane Cove was not. As you are aware Lane Cove has already delivered increased density in the adjacent St Leonards South precinct which accords with the TOD principle. Based on the information currently available Council does not believe the Crows Nest work will include areas in the Lane Cove LGA.”

    The sooner the Department of Planning and Housing Infrastructure confirms the exact outer boundary of the Crows Nest Metro TOD, the better.

    In August 2020 a comprehensive land use and infrastructure package for St Leonards and Crows Nest was finalised to guide future development and infrastructure decisions in the area to 2036.

    When the 2036 Plan was published, the NSW State government said the plan would deliver 6,680 new homes, planning capacity for an extra 119,979 sqm of employment floor space and 16,500 new jobs in health, education, professional services and the knowledge sector.

    The Crows Nest Metro TOD plans are in direct contrast with the following statement on the 2036 plan website which notes:

    “The 2036 Plan is a strategic document to guide future rezoning proposals in the area and is supported by a section 9.1 Ministerial Direction.

    North Sydney, Lane Cove and Willoughby councils will progress rezoning proposals through amendments to their respective Local Environmental Plans.

    We will continue working closely with these councils as part of any future rezoning proposals to ensure they are consistent with the vision and actions of the 2036 Plan.”

    The 2036 plan was reviewed by the Independent Planning Panel.

    Which Parts of the Lane Cove Council Local  Government Area are impacted?

    In the Cove commissioned PropCode to prepare maps outlining the areas that are impacted. PropCode is a new platform for users across the property industry to quickly research town planning queries.

    ITC Note: The map above is indicative only.  The areas proposed for new planning controls are shown on the map for simplicity but until the SEPP is drafted it is impossible to confirm the planning reforms.  We have used as the crow flies due to time and money constraint but the terminology is walking distance (but it is very hard to do that on a general map).

    Below is a map prepared by Willoughby City Council that shows an overlap on the border between Lane Cove Council and WCC on the Pacific Highway.

    Floor Space Ratio Proposals

    Why is Floor Space Ration important?

    The following example is from the DPHI website.

    “The following simple examples show how an FSR of 0.5:1 can be achieved on a single lot.

    Maximum FSR is the floor area you may build compared to the total area of the block.

    For an FSR of 0.5:1
    If site area = 1000 m2
    Floor area allowed = 500 m2″

    The combination of standards like height, FSR and setbacks, combined with your site’s physical features will determine how big your house can be and where it will be located on your block.”

    Village Atmosphere

    These changes will allow more shop-top housing in Lane Cove – which means, for example, shops along Burns Bay Road (i.e. BWS) will be able to have shop-top housing.

    Will this change the Village Atmosphere?  Will there be large-scale overshadowing?  Before these planning changes were introduced, property developers had already acquired buildings in the Lane Cove Village area, which would be able to take advantage of the proposed shop-top housing.

    What Are People Saying About the Reforms?

    Anthony Roberts Member for Lane Cove, released the following statement


    The Member for Lane Cove Anthony Roberts MP has denounced the Minns Labor Government for its lack of detail and foresight with its announcement of sweeping planning policy reform.

    Mr. Roberts said that addressing the housing crisis must be the top priority for all Government’s but questioned whether the Labor Government is actually up to the job.

    “This is clearly a government with its training wheels on. The Labor Government unveiled the largest rezoning in Australia’s history with a Media Release that contained barely a paragraph of actual details.” Mr. Roberts said.

    Mr. Roberts said that the community has every right to be concerned about this announcement.

    “It is farcical that our community is left to fill in the blanks for themselves. We have Resident Associations using Google Maps to try and determine where the boundaries of these rezonings will be. Why Labor haven’t been bothered to prepare more information is beyond me.”

    Support for greater density is rapidly growing amongst the Community with a recent Ipsos poll finding 52% of Sydneysiders supported greater density in existing suburbs, 8% higher than this time last year.

    However, Mr. Roberts said the Government was taking this support for granted “The community is getting in behind the idea of greater density in their suburbs, and support will only grow if you let them contribute to that process. The previous Liberal Government proved time and time again that we can have greater density without impacting the amenity and comfort that make our suburbs so individual unique and desirable. Labor seems intent on burning that goodwill to the ground.”

    Labor is also forgetting that rezoning is only one piece of the puzzle. Labor Government cuts to results driven private training organisations coupled with a refusal to address the hyperinflated building costs will present an even greater challenge to the housing sector.

    “Labor can rezone all the land they want, but there won’t be anyone here to build it unless they get their act together.” Mr. Roberts said.

    Lane Cove Progress Association

    The Productivity Commission in 2023 estimates that planning restrictions add 19% to the cost of an average apartment in Sydney – a cost which continues to prove crippling.

    The unsustainable increase in housing prices and lack of supply has priced out the majority of people who grew up in Lane Cove and wish to raise a family in the area they lived in.

    To afford the median apartment in Lane Cove at $843,000, the minimum income required to service that loan with a 10% deposit is over $177,000. The practical reality is significantly more challenging, with most two bedroom apartments now selling for over $1M.

    To raise a family in Lane Cove has become financially impossible for the average couple, due to excessive housing prices in our community.

    These changes to the planning system will provide greater diversity of homes in Lane Cove, within walking distance to transport, shops and services.

    Thomas Shanahan, Lane Cove Progress Association President said:

    “Lane Cove is a brilliantly diverse community – far more so than the Lane Cove I grew up in during the 80’s and 90’s. This kind of reform can help grow that diversity of population while giving existing property owners a chance to realise the increased property values these reforms can deliver.”

    “When we look at the Lane Cove of the future, it must be more than a place where those with who can utilise the Bank of Mum and Dad can afford to live.  them contribute to our community.”

    “It is clear that transport infrastructure needs to come alongside these reforms, however this cannot be used as a convenient tool for those who wish to maintain the status quo because they simply don’t like apartments, or those who live in them.”

    “I expect the Minns Government will face strong opposition from areas like Crows Nest, but a truly diverse and climate conscious community will recognise that sensible development is a far better option than continued urban sprawl.”

    Stringybark Creek Residents Association

    The Stringy Bark Creek Residents’ Association (SBCRA) has been working with Council, NSW Government and the local community for over 30 years supporting the development of community assets and advocating for appropriate and sustainable development in the Lane Cove North area.  The SBCRA has the experience of dealing with the developments in the Mowbray Precinct Lane Cove North area for over 12 years.

    Whilst acknowledging the importance of ensuring housing for a growing population and recognising that our area is within 15km of the Sydney CBD, we are extremely concerned that the current NSW Government Proposed Changes to Housing will not provide the framework for positive and sustainable outcomes for the Lane Cove community.

    The following submission outlines our areas of concern.

    Role of local Council in housing planning

    • The role of local councils in the proposed changes to housing in NSW will significantly reduce Council’s involvement and authority in housing planning and implementation in their LGA.
    • The proposed wholesale changes make it very difficult for Council to develop and implement their own Local Environment Plans (LEP) and Development Control Plans (DCP), as it requires Councils to enforce the overall NSW Government housing plans without consideration of local characteristics and community values, in particular heritage and environmental considerations.
    • The elected members of the community are barely represented in the planning process at all. Our experience is that when Lane Cove Council has been given the voice and authority to make planning decisions in relation to housing, this has resulted in better outcomes for the community.
    • Council understands the unique character, heritage and environmental values and community needs.  Lane Cove Council has been actively supporting the NSW Government’s housing needs and targets, and this can be evidenced through significant population growth in our LGA, and a range of high density developments over the last 10 years including the Mowbray Precinct, St Leonard’s South, and Burns Bay Rd developments.
    • Lane Cove Council has considerably exceeded the demands that the NSW Government has placed on them. The current situation is that Lane Cove Council has met targets for increased housing to 2036, prior to the planning proposal outlined in the NSW Government’s proposed Changes to Housing.
    • From our experience of planning in Lane Cove North where infrastructure was an after-thought after the developments were completed, these resulted in negative impacts on community including schools at capacity and traffic congestion without a master plan that is now difficult to address.
    • We recommend that the NSW Government’s Housing proposal needs to come with a commitment for investment in plans for improvements, and where appropriate new infrastructure to support the increased population.

    Willoughby City Council

    The State Government intends to complete the proposed rezoning by November 2024, with an exhibition of draft amendments anticipated in April 2024. To facilitate the rezoning process, the State Government will undertake master planning for each precinct, which will determine the changes to be undertaken.

    Limited details have been provided to date; updates will be provided as more information is made available.

    Council staff are drafting a submission to proposed changes, which will include the following concerns:

    • Loss of tree canopy and private open space.
    • Traffic impacts and congestion.
    • Loss of highly valued low density character of suburbs, especially in heritage conservation areas.
    • Poor amenity outcomes such as loss of privacy and overshadowing.
    • The existing capacity for growth recently created by Council’s new (June 2023) planning controls already provide significant capacity for new housing and growth. This allows time for a more strategic and considered approach to improving housing diversity than the proposed changes.

    Read More Here

    North Sydney Council

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