More train and metro station precincts to be allowed high-density housing to help ease Sydney’s housing crisis

More train and metro station precincts to be allowed high-density housing to help ease Sydney’s housing crisis
  • PublishedApril 12, 2024

More train and metro station precincts in Sydney, the Central Coast and the Hunter region have been earmarked for high-density development by the NSW state government under its Transport Orientated Development (TOD) policy, including in two areas prone to flooding. 

Last year, the government said 31 metro and suburban train stations would have more development within 400 metres to help build an estimated 140,000 homes, following an accord signed with the federal government for more housing.

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Paul Scully said six new stations would have major planning changes to allow more housing under the TOD State Environmental Planning Policy.

“After working with councils on the identified 31 TOD locations last year, a further six stations are being added. Those six stations nominated by local councils include Cardiff, Cockle Creek, Belmore, Lakemba, Punchbowl and Woy Woy,” he said. 

Mr Scully said local councils had been encouraged to build even more dwellings.

“From the get-go, the premier and I have made it very clear that if councils had local plans where they wanted to go to at least the same or beyond the dwelling desires of the NSW government we would look seriously at those plans.” Mr Scully said.

Mr Scully said with the six additional sites, the 37 precincts would see 170,000 new dwellings within 400m of the transport hubs.

“On working with councils, the majority of those will come into effect this April,” he said.

“The new planning controls that come into effect through a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) will allow for additional density, it will allow for residential home units to be built on all residential zoning types.”

Mr Scully said councils would remain the primary consent authority.

“The new controls will include some new standards with respect to height and floor space ratios. They are only a temporary measure until councils put in place their own strategic planning for more homes.”

Flood-prone areas

Under a 2017 NSW State Emergency Service flood study, Winding Creek and Lower Cockle Creek west of Cardiff near Newcastle were examined.

The report listed Winding Creek as the tributary that has been the most developed for urban usage, with the town straddling its banks.

“Flooding along Winding Creek and to a lesser extent along Cockle Creek has been recorded since the 1930s. It is possible that the incidence of flooding has historically been under reported along Cockle Creek due to less urban development affected than on Winding Creek,” it said.

Mr Scully said flooding is a consideration in any planning proposal.

“Those sort of local issues are being taken into consideration and will continue to be taken into consideration in the assessment of any sites,” he said. 

He said the state government was committed to housing people safely and noted the deluge that caused flooding in NSW coastal areas last week. 

“The Hawkesbury is not included in the consideration of any TOD areas. We are conscious of making sure that there are homes located in well-located areas close to transport and opportunities,” he said. 

“The state government has simultaneously taken steps to not allow residential construction to continue on dangerous flood plains because it is important that we do not continue to put people at risk.”

A woman poses for a photo
Independent Canterbury Bankstown councillor Barbara Coorey says locals will fight the changes. (ABC News: Greg Miskelly)

South-west Sydney already highly developed

Independent Canterbury Bankstown councillor Barbara Coorey said the area had already met its target for new homes.

Cr Coorey said the new TOD sites identified at Belmore, Lakemba and Punchbowl would cause significant distress to residents.

“It is a concern as we have already met our housing dwelling targets with 44,000 units in the council’s Local Environment Plan,” she said. 

“There is no resolution from the council to offer these three new railway stations as high-density sites. We are already highly densified; you only have to go to Canterbury Road to see the disaster.

“Now that density will apply to the low-rise streets in quiet neighbourhoods. They are going to up-zone every street. There will not be one house standing in some of those TOD areas.

“They are going to wipe out the history of these streets.”

Cr Coorey said some residents would fight the changes.

“A lot of people come from a non-English speaking background and will not understand what is going to happen to their homes,” she said. 

“This is rezoning en masse, unprecedented in the history of this country. This is planning on the run.” 

Mr Scully said it was important NSW confronted the housing crisis.

“Over the last few years, we have had more people in that key demographic – their 30s and 40s – that start families, start businesses, workers leaving Sydney,” he said. 

“It is important that we stop that, otherwise Sydney will hollow out.”


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