Planning proposals for 10,000 homes in doubt

The fate of three large housing proposals hang in the balance ahead of Monday night’s Wollondilly Council meeting.

Councillors will decide whether or not to ask developers to withdraw the controversial applications.

The planning proposals, if approved, would see more than 10,000 homes built in Tahmoor, Thirlmere and Silverdale.

Council staff believe the proposals are an inappropriate scale, are not consistent with the existing character of their respective areas and would have a negative impact on the use of rural land.

Staff have recommended the proposals be withdrawn as the applicants have failed to prove their developments meet Wollondilly’s housing growth guidelines.

Councillor Matt Gould said the Metropolitan Rural Area guidelines gave clear rules about what type of housing growth was permitted in the shire.

“The council has put a lot of effort into ensuring that “rural living” is maintained and that any growth is consistent with the council’s adopted position and the state government’s district plan,” he said.

“Under the guideline, local growth is allowed but developments which are considered district or regionally significant are not.

“Basically the guidelines allow for a couple of hundred homes to be built in Wollondilly’s villages to accommodate natural population growth but not large scale developments.

“The guidelines say developments need to retain productive agricultural areas, the environment and the character of each village.

“If the developers can’t demonstrate how their developments meet the guidelines then there is no point for them to continue with the rezoning process.”

The Metropolitan Rural Area provisions are set out in the Greater Sydney Region Plan and the provisions cover all of Wollondilly except for the Wilton New Town growth area and parts of Appin.

The developer of an Eltondale proposal in Silverdale wants the council to rezone approximately 1,595 hectares of land.

The development will house nearly 26,000 people in 8,944 residential lots.

The site would allow a range of housing types including low-density residential, large lot residential, multi dwelling buildings and flat/apartment buildings. 

It would also provide land for employment, town and neighbourhood centres, local schooling opportunities, open space and environmental conservation.

Large portions of the site are likely to be under the flight paths for Western Sydney Airport.

Cr Gould said the proposal, if it were to proceed, would “fundamentally change the character” of the Warragamba/Silverdale area.

“It would roughly be equivalent in scale to Glenmore Park,” he said.

“It also has the possibility of providing access to a "city" level of facilities and services which are unlikely to be provided locally otherwise.”

Almost 1000 local and non-local people voted in Cr Gould’s Facebook poll and 80 per cent of those voted for the application to be withdrawn.

An application to rezone land in west Thirlmere, totalling about 700 hectares, aims to create lots of a minimum 4000 square metre size up to two hectares. The lot yield is yet to be determined and will be based on protection of native flora and fauna, water ways and current commercial agricultural operations. 

An applicant proposes to increase he maximum building height of Tahmoor Town Centre from 11 metres to 30 metres. This would make way for apartments above the shopping centre. 

The apartment building would be six-storeys high and 432 units would be built accommodating about 1,253 residents.

Cr Gould said residents told him they were concerned about growth in the shire because there was no significant infrastructure improvements planned and they were worried about losing the character of the shire’s villages.

“I’ve had feedback from residents who said they moved to the area for a certain lifestyle and these developments are inconsistent with that lifestyle,” he said.

“Most people aren’t against reasonable housing development.”

The shire’s housing target in 2011 was 7500 dwellings over a 20-year period. As of 2018, there have been 8545 dwellings approved in seven years.

The rate of growth in the shire has doubled from what was previously anticipated.

Councillors voted unanimously at the last council meeting to ‘pause’ the assessment review process for planning proposals until it conducts a comprehensive review of the number of dwellings proposed to be built in the shire.​

The council is currently assessing about 40 planning proposals.