FAQs – Multi Dwelling and Dual Occupancy Minimum Lot Size Planning Proposal.

    We’ve compiled a list of commonly asked questions covering the main issues surrounding housing and development and Council’s introduction of a minimum lot size requirement in our Sutherland Shire Local Environmental Plan 2015.

    1.Why do we need more homes?

    A main driver is population growth.  Current population projections show that NSW will grow to 9.9 million people by 2036 and these new residents need somewhere to live.  The Greater Sydney Commission has released the latest vision for Sydney. Its plan is based on Greater Sydney growing by another 1.7million people by 2036. It has a minimum 20 year housing target of 725,000 additional dwellings by 2036, with 83,500 being located in the South District.

    Sydney is a global city and it attracts a large proportion of the growing population.  It is inevitable that Sydney will have a more urban character as it continues to grow.  As part of Sydney, Sutherland Shire is exposed to the pressure to accommodate new residents too and cannot be quarantined from change.

    We need more housing to accommodate existing Shire residents so that our children can move out and live nearby, and our seniors can exchange their large older homes for something they can manage that is still within their community.

    Increased supply of housing will also help ease the pressure on prices and provide choice so that younger people and families can move here or remain close to family and friends as their housing needs change over time.  The economic activity generated by the building industry is also important for our local economy and generates jobs.

    2.What role do the different levels of Government have in facilitating housing and development?

    All levels of Government contribute to shaping local communities and have a role to play in providing housing for the growing population. The primary responsibility for big picture housing policy lies with federal and state governments. In preparing and implementing a local housing strategy, Council operates within the broader framework and resources provided by Federal and State Government. 

    The NSW State Government regularly reviews population growth projections and periodically prepares housing targets to ensure the state can accommodate more people and jobs. Growth is broken down into districts and local government areas so that Councils can plan for it. 

    Council has a mandatory responsibility under the NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to prepare housing strategies to meet State targets and bring them into effect through a Local Environmental Plan (LEP). 

    All Councils have a responsibility to plan for the future growth their region. The key challenge for Council is ensuring future growth occurs in a way that protects what the community values most.   

    3.How does an LEP facilitate housing?

    The State Government requires Council to prepare an LEP incorporating a standardised set of zones and applying appropriate building heights and densities for each zone. Council must ensure the LEP is capable of providing for additional housing to meet the growth targets provided by the State government. Council is required to provide a mix of housing types – townhouses, flats and dual occupancies – in order to facilitate greater housing choice.

    In preparing the Sutherland Shire Local Environmental Plan 2015, Council’s housing strategy concentrated on higher density development in and around centres so that there was less change in the low-density neighbourhoods. Focusing on higher density around town centres also allows existing infrastructure to be utilised by the increased population, including transport, shops etc. Measures to increase residential capacity largely focused on rezoning or changing the density and height controls in and adjacent to town centres to preserve the low-density landscaped character of low-density zones. 

    Infill housing comprising of townhouses and dual occupancies were broadly permissible in the low-density neighbourhoods under previous plans, and the current plan maintains this permissibility. The foreshore areas and land at the bush interface have also retained greater restrictions on infill development to maintain their natural values.

    4.Why has there been such a large boom in development across Sutherland Shire?

    Sydney is going through a period of unprecedented growth. Sydney’s population recently topped 5 million. It took almost 30 years for the city to grow from 3 million to 4 million, but only 16 years to reach 5 million. This growth is reflected in a local construction boom. 

    Large blocks of land and older housing stock, as are typical in the low-density areas of Sutherland Shire, provide attractive development opportunities under current market conditions for medium-density developments, such as dual occupancies and townhouses. 

    The lack of opportunity provided by previous LEPs lead to a significant unsatisfied demand that the market is now fulfilling.  Council has no power to slow the pace at which the opportunities provided by our current housing strategy are being taken up by the market.

    5.Why can’t Council change the development controls to stop the amount of development taking place?

    In addition to our responsibility to provide suitable housing for our community, Council must abide by State policy directions. A State direction requires that a Planning Proposal must “not contain provisions which will reduce the permissible residential density of land”. Council cannot introduce controls that would take away the current residential development potential of a parcel of land. 

    6.Why introduce a minimum lot size requirement in the Sutherland Shire LEP 2015 for certain forms of development?

    There are two reasons for the introduction of a minimum lot size for Multi Dwelling and Dual Occupancy in the LEP:

    a)  Changes to refine existing controls for dual occupancies and multi dwelling development

    The introduction of a minimum lot size requirement for the construction of dual occupancies and multi dwelling development is intended to prevent the overdevelopment of small sites and the associated adverse amenity impacts on the streetscape and adjoining properties. 

    On smaller lots, the impacts of dual occupancy and multi dwelling development are intensified. Achieving a balanced outcome for landscaping and quality design on small narrow lots is difficult as there is less area to resolve site-specific design issues. More intense developments on small lots can erode the low-density, landscaped neighbourhood character that is an underlying objective of the zone. 

    The proposed changes seek to both achieve improved development outcomes for dual occupancy and multi dwelling housing, and better achieve the objectives of the R2 Low Density Residential and E4 Environmental Living zones.

    b)  Changes to reduce the impact of "Missing Middle" Codes SEPP on Local Neighbourhoods

    “Complying development” is a quick and simple approval alternative to the Development Application process. The types of development that can be approved as complying development are identified in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the "Codes SEPP"). These forms of development can be approved by a private certifier if pre-determined criteria are satisfied.

    In early 2017, the NSW Government announced plans to expand the Codes SEPP to encompass townhouses, terraces, villas, dual occupancies and manor homes. These more intensive forms of development have been termed “Missing Middle” under the proposed legislative amendments. The intent of the proposed changes is to reduce approval times and costs, and to deliver greater housing choice. 

    The draft "Missing Middle" amendments assume that LEPs specify a minimum lot size for dual occupancy and multi dwelling development, stating that applicants must ‘check land zoning and minimum lot size’ for a council area. This is set by the Standard LEP model clause “4.1B Minimum lot sizes for dual occupancy, multi dwelling and residential flat buildings”. 

    SSLEP2015 does not currently contain these provisions, meaning these forms of development could potentially be constructed on any sized lot as complying development without the need for Council consent. Council seeks to address the impact of the proposed changes by introducing a minimum lot size for these forms of development into SSLEP2015, consistent with the State’s standard instrument LEP