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Submission on Explanation of Intended Effects (EIE) to create low and mid-rise housing

I share the NSW Government’s goal to stimulate new housing supply to address the current and
projected shortage of dwellings, which is pushing up house rents and sales prices, placing crippling
strain on families across the state.

We do need increased density in strategic locations. The transport
hubs identified under the Transport Oriented Development program are the exact right tool and
strategic approach.

However, this worthwhile goal does not justify any means and I do not support the full suite of
measures being proposed to create low and mid-rise housing, which would have massive implications
for my electorate of Wakehurst and the broader Northern Beaches (where I am a councillor). I have
serious concerns about the speed and scope of the proposed changes.

The one-size-fits-all approach proposed, for rapid implementation, is too risky.

Last year I voted in support of keeping the Greater Sydney Commission, because their
district-based strategic planning was very valuable - thinking holistically and setting a vision about
environmental, social and economic outcomes over the medium to long-term, tailoring growth to
local geography and infrastructure capacity. It gave developers and the local community certainty
and direction.

Significant changes to settings in the planning system should reflect this thorough strategic
planning work and the housing targets set in District Plans, which will soon be updated. Blanket
changes will result in ad-hoc outcomes in built form, which are not place-based, and risks
population pressure misaligned to infrastructure. This is not in the public interest.

I particularly want to emphasise that in no case should there be a Complying Development
Certificate pathway created for dual occupancies, manor houses, terraces and townhouses in R2
zones. Councils must retain their oversight and approval role through the development application
and assessment processes. A tick-and-flick exercise called a SEPP with a minimum requirement
set of rules that overrides councils is totally unacceptable. These SEPPs, like the Boarding House
SEPP, will create significant issues and leave communities to clean up the mess.

I am also of the strong view that there should be a second round of consultation on the drafted
proposed SEPP instrument which follows the exhibition of this EIE. It would be great to hear how
the Dept of Planning and the Minister explain how they have dealt with the various issues raised.
Increased density and variety of housing choice in strategic locations can and should be
facilitated on the Northern Beaches.

The Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy identifies the best-suited areas to increase housing
density in our LGA. This includes considerable uplift in Brookvale and Frenchs Forest in the
Wakehurst electorate. I fully support further development and densification, consistent with the Local
Housing Strategy, to provide desperately needed housing supply and diversity on the northern

I also support changes to allow more dual occupancies in R2 zones. The old Warringah LEP currently
in force does not permit dual occupancies in R2 zones. Northern Beaches Council is currently
addressing this in its new single LEP due in the next few months.

However, the proposed specifications in the EIE on exhibition to allow dual occupancy development in
all R2 zones on blocks of 450 square metres or more, is too permissive. Under these settings, 89% or
37,000 of R2 zoned properties on the northern beaches could meet the dual occupancy requirements.
That will have significant impacts on infrastructure, schools, water, sewer, which are all at or nearing

‘Town centre precincts’, where mid-rise development would be concentrated under the proposed
reform, would include the Wakehurst urban hubs of Frenchs Forest, Brookvale, Dee Why, Forestville
and Belrose. There has not been sufficient strategic planning studies or community consultation
completed to allow such profound change to be implemented in these areas, in particular low density
residential areas Belrose, Frenchs Forest and Forestville. This rezoning by stealth to medium density,
with none of the checks and balances, is reckless. These suburbs are surrounded by National parks
and are high risk bushfire areas. Do we ever learn from our planning mistakes of the past?
Aspects of the proposed SEPP could have serious detrimental impacts on the built
environment and the quality of life for current and future residents.

I appreciate that it may not be reasonable to assume that all sites where new rules apply will be
redeveloped, at least not in the short term. However, by changing the planning settings so
fundamentally and ‘turning on the tap’, it is prudent to consider the full potential consequences.
If fully - or even partially - utilised, these changes will result in population increase in the Northern
Beaches LGA and electorate, far in excess of the pre-existing evidenced-based housing target for
the northern beaches - 12,000 dwellings by 2036 - based on the judicious strategic planning by
the Greater Sydney Commission, set out in the North District Plan and reflected in the 2021
Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy.

The constraints on further housing density and population increase on the northern beaches are
based on very material infrastructure limitations: roads, public transport, sewage, water, schools,
sportsgrounds and community facilities. The Dept of Planning have already reneged on an
upgrade to a local oval (County Road) despite signing off on it and Council committing funding to
it. Still no good reason has come about why this decision was made. Despite having a shortage of
sporting fields, the Department now wants to implement these changes and create an even bigger
shortage. They have already shown their willingness to walk away from agreed projects for basic

Without key infrastructure upgrades on the northern beaches, the capacity to absorb growth is
fundamentally limited. Further growth must be conditional on key infrastructure upgrades including the
Beaches Link Tunnel and the grade separation of the Warringah and Pittwater Roads, to name just
two projects. Particularly critical now is the grade separation at Warringah and Pittwater Roads, as it
allows an additional 1,500 to 2000 dwellings on top of the 1500 which can be accommodated now in
Brookvale should the structure plan be approved. However, despite asking, the Department has still
not agreed to increase funding for planning to fast track this Structure Plan. Is there a housing crisis?
This project might be smaller than Rosehill, but it is strategic and adds to the overall number and

‘Density done well’ means taking all viable steps to maintain and enhance local character, design
merit, green space and tree canopy. This is essential for density to have social licence and, more
importantly, for the quality of life for current and future residents. In this context, the specifications of
the proposed ‘non-refusal standards’ for FSR and building height are very concerning. For example, in
relation to the reduction of landscaped/deep soil areas and the implications for our urban tree canopy.

The geographic features of the northern beaches make it particularly vulnerable to the impacts of
accelerating climate change. Increasing density and population pressure must be viewed in this
context. The State Disaster Mitigation Plan 2024-26, released just today, identifies the northern
beaches as particularly vulnerable. The plan predicts that by 2060 the northern beaches will have the
highest total average annual loss in the built environment, totalling $969 million, of anywhere in the
state, mostly due to coastal inundation and erosion.

There is a better way to deliver more well-designed, well-located housing, working
collaboratively with Northern Beaches Council to deliver clearly articulated housing targets.
In my capacity as both a local MP, an elected Councillor and Mayor for 15 years, I endorse the
Northern Beaches Council submission on the Explanation of Intended Effects and the detailed
analysis it includes.

Northern Beaches Council has very experienced and knowledgeable planning staff who have been
undertaking proactive strategic planning for many years to facilitate more high quality housing in
locations, where it is supported by access to infrastructure and will have the least detrimental impact
on the natural and built environment, and limiting congestion and climate risks.

This work culminated with the Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy and several precinct
planning initiatives including the Brookvale and Frenchs Forest Structure Plans. It involved significant
community consultation which led to trust and buy in from residents and businesses.
I have full confidence in Council’s comprehensive analysis of the Explanation of Intended Effects on
exhibition. Northern Beaches Council is willing and able to work collaboratively with the NSW
Government to address housing supply.

The three way merger of Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Councils to create Northern Beaches
Council is often referred to “as the only successful council merger”. Savings were banked and trust
established. Northern Beaches Council has the respect and trust of the community and will always
work with Government for the best outcomes for its community.

I urge the government to not undermine the careful strategic planning work done by them over many
years. This should involve working together to expedite the finalisation of the new consolidated LEP
for the Northern Beaches, which will facilitate greater density in strategic locations, in order to meet
clearly articulated evidence-based housing targets. Crucially, this would involve fast tracking the
Brookvale Structure Plan combined with the grade separation of the Warringah Road and Pittwater
Road intersection.

Thank you for reviewing this submission.

Kind regards,

Michael Regan MP
Independent Member for Wakehurst

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