Money Time to take a breath: government hits brake on Sydney housing hotspot

07:11  16 may  2018
07:11  16 may  2018 Source:   smh.com.au

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The decision follows advice given to the government about where development is straining local infrastructure.© Daniel Munoz The decision follows advice given to the government about where development is straining local infrastructure. The state government has slammed the brakes on new housing proposals in one fast-growing Sydney area, conceding the rapid growth in apartments is outpacing infrastructure in parts of the city.

The government has also suspended the operation of new planning rules making it easier for homeowners to build terraces on their properties in the City of Ryde and the City of Canterbury Bankstown – delaying a policy it introduced only last month.

“We've had a very buoyant property market,” said Planning Minister Anthony Roberts.

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“There's been a huge amount of overseas capital that has landed all of a sudden in Sydney … that has brought on a lot of these dwellings maybe sooner than we normally would have seen,” said Mr Roberts, who on Tuesday told the two councils about the slow-down.

“It's just enabling that infrastructure in certain areas to catch up, and also for us and councils to take a bit of a breath.”

Sarah Hill, CEO of the Greater Sydney Commission.© Daniel Munoz Sarah Hill, CEO of the Greater Sydney Commission. To that end, the government has directed any new planning proposals for residential development in Ryde not be assessed or progressed until a review of local infrastructure and planning laws.

The government has also deferred in Ryde and Canterbury Bankstown the start of a new low-rise, medium density housing code, which makes it easier for homeowners to convert properties into low-rise dwellings.

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The decision follows advice – requested by the government, and provided by the Greater Sydney Commission - about where development is straining local infrastructure.

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“We looked at a whole series of elements and there certainly were some key outliers in greater Sydney that we are aware are experiencing some very substantial pressure from a residential development point of view,” said the chief executive of the Greater Sydney Commission, Sarah Hill.

It also comes amid an intense political debate in sections of the city about perceptions of overdevelopment. In Ryde, Labor mayor Jerome Laxale has been campaigning against the medium-density housing policy, while the Liberal local Member, Victor Dominello, has been pushing his own government for a development freeze.

“They’re back-pedalling at a rate of knots,” said Cr Laxale.

“There must be an election around the corner,” he said.

Mr Dominello said: “I have been advocating against overdevelopment since I got elected about 10 years ago.

“Ryde has done more than its fair share.”

According to analysis by the Department of Planning, almost three quarters of the 7450 new dwellings built in Ryde Council over the past decade were initiated by the council, with about a quarter arising from the former government’s Part3A system.

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At the time , Sydney 's market had leapt by 31 per cent in the previous two and half years, Melbourne's by 17 per cent. Sydney property prices have continued to rise, but for houses the growth rate has slowed. But once again, don't hold your breath for that to occur under this government .

Planning minister Anthony Roberts.© Dean Osland Planning minister Anthony Roberts. “Anyone that has driven through Meadowbank or Macquarie Park will see that there's been a huge amount of building work that's been going on, huge population increase and quite frankly the roads and the infrastructure don't seem to be coping with that ... and that's from my physical observations,” Mr Roberts said.

The Ryde measures will not affect planning proposals already lodged, meaning there will still be a pipeline of new developments.

Ryde and Canterbury Bankstown may also have been affected disproportionally by the medium-density housing code. The code only applies in areas that already allow for medium-density housing, with Ryde and the former Bankstown council permitting it in large areas.

The delayed implementation of the code allows the council areas to adjust their local environment plans.

When Gladys Berejiklian became premier in January 2017, she nominated housing affordability as the biggest issue facing Sydney, with increasing housing supply "the best way to address housing affordability".

Mr Roberts said the government had been “incredibly successfully” delivering supply.

“I was told to go out and increase supply. And I think we've been able to go out and land that,” he said.

But he said it required more than supply to make communities. “We are spending more on infrastructure than any generation before us. That’s why as a government we just want to ensure we get it right.”

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