Campbelltown MP raises concern over controversial housing code

Several terrace home developments have already been built across the region. Picture: Roma Dickins
Several terrace home developments have already been built across the region. Picture: Roma Dickins

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren wants the state government to scrap or heavily amend its new housing code to address concerns about overdevelopment and poor planning controls.

The Low Rise Housing Diversity Code will allow terrace houses, dual occupancy and manor houses to be fast tracked under the State Environment Planning Policy as 'complying developments' in as little as 20 days.

These proposals will no longer require a full development application through local councils meaning neighbouring residents won't be able to provide feedback on the developments.

Camden, Campbelltown and Wollondilly councils deferred the code when it was first raised in 2016.

Mr Warren, who is also the opposition spokesman for local government, said the implementation of the code demonstrated a disregard for communities and councils across the state.

"The government has ignored concerns from 46 councils across NSW," he said.

"Residents deserve to have a say about the future of their community.

"This code must be scrapped or amended to ensure this happens and overcrowding concerns are addressed."

The main concerns arising from this code is the removal of council oversight, the lack of community input and over-crowding or over-development, especially in fire prone areas.

However Camden MP Peter Sidgreaves said the code only applied where councils had already zoned land for this type of development.

"The code allows for well-designed dual occupancies, terraces and manor houses to be developed under a fast-tracked complying development approval, to encourage more housing diversity and help improve housing affordability," he said.

"Councils have had more than two years to tailor the code to their local areas, and while many have lived up to the task, some have failed to do so for the communities they represent.

"Every community should have the opportunity to have their say on the future of their local area, which is why we've given so much time for councils to consult and engage."

Campbelltown Council's director of city development Jim Baldwin said the council had already made provisions for implementation of the code.

"The council's initial concerns about the code were addressed in our recent review of the Campbelltown Local Environment Plan (LEP) which ensured medium density housing would only occur in appropriate locations," he said.

"While we are supportive of the need for more housing diversity and affordability, we are concerned by any reduction in the community's ability to have a say in its future."

A Camden Council spokesman said the council made a submission to the state government when the Code was on public exhibition in late 2016, raising various issues including the potential impact on the council's ability to sustainably manage development in appropriate locations.

"In 2019 the council made changes to its planning controls so that development undertaken through the Low Rise Housing Diversity Code reflects the established residential character in Camden," he said.

"This was achieved by including minimum lot size and lot frontage controls for dual occupancy or multi-dwelling housing in the Camden Local Environmental Plan 2010.

"These minimum standards apply to both development applications (DA's) lodged with the council as well as complying development certificates (CDC's) issued under the code."

Wollondilly mayor Matthew Deeth said the council considered the introduction of the code to be premature

"It should be put on hold until our new housing strategy, currently under development, is finalised this year," he said.

"Council understands the need to prioritise construction to support economic development.

"We've reduced turnaround times for secondary dwellings to a mean of 32 days and established a fast-track path for appropriate developments.

"This will enable the council to ensure the code applies to suitable areas and that key issues such as bushfire, evacuation, the provision of infrastructure and design that suits our local area to be fully considered in any development.

"For our community, the question needs to be asked is saving 12 days on DA while the council seeks community feedback worth risking a bad outcome on bushfire evacuation, design or lack of infrastructure?"

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