All new Sydney developments would be subject to a minimum 30 per cent affordable housing target in a bid to address the city’s housing crisis under a NSW Greens proposal.
The Saving Sydney package, announced on Friday by Greens MP and planning spokesman David Shoebridge, would also abolish priority precincts and restore planning powers to local councils, limiting “top-down planning”.
“Sydney has a deep and growing geographic divide based on household income and property values, and our planning system needs to address this,” Mr Shoebridge said. “That means ensuring we have affordable housing in all areas of the city, not just where the land is cheapest.”
“When you talk to the development industry in private they will tell you that the barrier to providing affordable housing in Sydney’s higher-priced suburbs is poor politics and poor planning. It’s not economics. If developers have to build affordable housing to get their developments up, then they will.”
The state government last year announced its affordable housing policy with a 5 to 10 per cent target in all new developments on rezoned land.
Mr Shoebridge said the Liberal state government’s continuously rebranded “priority precincts” were, in effect, “spot rezoning on steroids”, which destroyed local communities and undermined strategic planning in Sydney,
The Greens’ planning policy proposes the creation of five regional council organisations across Sydney. It would give them statutory powers to make regional plans and decide on major planning matters.
The Greens’ policy would also provide the Greater Sydney Commission with auditing powers over the planning department and local governments to ensure quality control across the planning system.
“Imposing top-down city planning through the Greater Sydney Commission has failed, which is why it has been stripped of its strategic plan-making powers,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“The best way of making plans for the future of Sydney is working collaboratively with local councils who understand best what their communities need and what local infrastructure can support.”
Mr Shoebridge said the five regional organisations would work alongside health, transport and education agencies to plan for each region’s infrastructure needs.
“It’s time that our planning bodies were not only more democratic but were also working with the state government so that all new development comes with the schools, trains and hospitals needed to succeed.
“Nothing should be getting up-zoned for more development until the funding is in place for the infrastructure needed to service it,” Mr Shoebridge said.
Greens housing spokeswoman Jenny Leong said more than 100,000 people were living in precarious housing situations and the decade-long waiting list for public housing was unacceptable.
“These are families who have been approved for public housing but unable to access it. We wouldn’t tolerate the idea of a five-year-old waiting until they’re 15 to go to primary school … so I don’t know why we would wait for a five-year-old until they’re 15 to access public housing that they’ve been approved for,” she said.
“You can’t commit to more and more apartments popping up in our cities if you don’t match those commitments with improved infrastructure like schools and hospitals.
“What we need is a massive shift in how we’re approaching housing in our cities to catch up with the backlog of affordable and social housing.”
The Greens’ proposal would also see the restoration of tree protection laws and tree canopy targets across Sydney.
“We know trees are an essential part of keeping our city healthy, clean and cool. It’s not good enough that Sydney has a leafy north shore and baking, treeless development in western Sydney,” Mr Shoebridge said.
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