The Coffs Harbour City Council has made a submission to the NSW Regional Housing Taskforce. The Taskforce was set up to help address housing supply issues that have come to the fore in the past few years in regional NSW.
Firstly below we publish the 31 August CHCC media release on this issue. Then we reproduce an opinion/comment piece that kooks more broadly at housing and land strategies in the CHCC local government area by Together We’ll Fix mayoral candidate Rodger Pryce. The latter garnered a lot of comment, discussion and feedback on social media over the weekend and we believe it is something that may well be of interest to CCO readers.
“Coffs Harbour City Council has made a clear submission to the NSW Government Regional Housing Taskforce to assist in their work to identify technical barriers and challenges in the NSW planning system that are preventing the delivery of housing supply in regional NSW.
Council’s Section Leader Local Planning Sharon Smith said this process provides an excellent platform to put forward ideas and solutions around regional housing.
“Most importantly Council contends that there are many matters that influence the delivery of housing in the regions, including property economics, federal tax policies, development feasibilities, market conditions and economic incentives. Planning is just one part of an incredibly complex issue.”
Council considers that there are a number of matters that the NSW Government can undertake to address the issues being explored by the Taskforce.
- Assist delivery of diverse forms of housing. Limited housing diversity is an issue across NSW and many people cannot access housing of an appropriate size and type to meet their needs. The North Coast Regional Plan and Council’s adopted Local Growth Management Strategy (LGMS) both seek to address the current lack of housing diversity in Coffs Harbour LGA by including objectives and strategies to achieve a greater proportion of smaller dwellings and a wider variety of dwelling forms. Council would welcome recommendations made by the Taskforce that explicitly target the delivery of a diverse suite of housing types and sizes, and specifically directed at the difference between infill and greenfield development.
- Support councils to expedite local strategic planning and statutory amendments. Zoning new land for development, or carrying out local planning exercises to facilitate increased infill development, requires significant council resources. Currently, Council’s ability to deliver actions contained in the Coffs Harbour Local Growth Management Strategy 2040 are constrained by budget and staff resources. Many councils in NSW would be in similar situations. Council recommends the NSW Government provide support to councils to carry out strategic planning actions outlined in adopted growth management plans to put in place increased opportunities for residential development.
- Provide financial assistance to Councils. This is particularly important to councils who are being impacted by the ‘flee change’ to the regions as a result of COVID-19. It would assist to ensure that appropriate strategic planning can be put in place to support medium to high density housing in infill areas (i.e. funding to carry out development feasibility analysis and place plans for Park Beach and Jetty infill areas).
- Assist with timely infrastructure delivery. Review and provide mechanisms to levy contributions toward critical enabling infrastructure, including public realm outcomes, including connectivity and for creating great places. This is particularly important to support liveability in infill or medium density locations.
- Draft Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). Council notes that the introduction of the Housing SEPP will provide additional opportunities for development of more diverse residential accommodation in regional areas. It is requested that sufficient design guidance be provided for housing typologies proposed under the draft Housing SEPP, for both the development industry and consent authorities. Council generally supports the recommendations contained within the draft SEPP in relation to controls for development of boarding houses, development of residential flat buildings undertaken by social housing providers, public authorities or joint ventures, development of dwelling house and secondary dwelling being undertaken at the same time that can be approved as complying development and the creation of ‘co-living housing’ and ‘independent living units’ as new types of ‘residential accommodation’ with permissibilities in medium density residential zones.
- Investigate general incentives for developers. Developers could be incentivised to provide additional density within identified areas which are already zoned and permissible for higher density. There are significant social advantages to locating social and affordable housing close to services, shops and ‘everyday’ types facilities, so that they are able to be accessed by walking or cycling to reduce the need for a car. Higher density areas also give rise to incidental socialisation and opportunities for people to interact, so those on their own can have some sort of human contact daily. An effective way to get developers interested in constructing in regional areas is to provide them with monetary incentives to do so.
- Investigate regional incentives for developers. Government could provide incentives for developers to encourage investment in regional areas, for example, a development in Sydney could be allowed to add additional levels above the height limit but must then invest in development in designated regional cities or activation precincts and provide a certain proportion to social housing.
- Refer to overseas experience. Overseas examples can always provide useful information and alternative models should be looked at – such as social housing projects in Denmark – where any significant large scale development that is to be undertaken always has to contribute a certain percentage to social housing. This allows for mixed dwelling types to be constructed within the one area/development, which also enables aging in place. Large apartment blocks sit alongside low rise apartments, town house villa style housing and also single dwellings and the social housing within these developments are dispersed so there is not a concentrated area of social housing, creating a more diverse environment. These developments also always invest heavily in their open spaces and public realm as numerous studies have revealed that the higher quality the outdoor environment the lower the crime rate.
- Provide information and education to reduce stigma. There seems to significant stigma associated with the provision of affordable and/or social housing stock, particularly the NIMBY effect. This NIMBY community pressure is becoming increasingly apparent in regional cities, particularly on development applications that are determined by the elected Council. This would appear to be a significant barrier to the provision of land stocks. The NSW Government could assist to address the need for new thinking and community education to address issues such as NIMBYism, as well as encouraging the uptake of innovative housing models and finance options.”
The above is the CHCC media release referred to in our introduction. See; https://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Your-Council/Newsroom/Regional-Housing-Submission
Response from Rodger Pryce
The following is a 4 September social media release by Rodger Pryce. Note: “In urban planning, infill, or in-fill, is the rededication of land in an urban environment, usually open-space, to new construction. Infill also applies, within an urban polity, to construction on any undeveloped land that is not on the urban margin.”- Wikipedia
“To me, having our population grow to over 100,000 by the year 2040 and fitting in all of the new arrivals into the residentially zoned areas that we have now, is not something I thought, would be the Coffs Harbour of the future.
Only 3% of our LGA is zoned for residential use, Ballina on the other hand already has 7% of their land zoned residential.
Infill, is the buzz word for our Coffs Harbour of the future, with a target of 40% of new dwellings not being houses, so units or townhouses.
Again, Ballina is suggesting that infill is desirable, but they are not ruling out rezoning more land for future housing.
Urban sprawl is an issue but when only 3% of our LGA is zoned for residential, we can hardly be accused of creating urban sprawl.
I struggle to accept that our Coffs Harbour of the future will have a landscape of medium to high density living, Covid has highlighted the dangers of high density living and yet we are supposedly, as a community, in favour of it?
So, in the future, who will live in houses and who will live in unit dwellings?
Covid will gaurantee that those living in areas of high population density will want to escape to areas such as Coffs Harbour, where there is less density of population.
Prices for houses will continue to go beyond the reach of those that already live here, pushed up by those fleeing Melbourne and Sydney, to escape the density of people. Houses will only be available to the wealthy in Coffs Harbour, unless our 3% of zoned land, falls into line with say, Ballina.
My final questions are, where do the people who are making these future plans for Coffs Harbour live?Do they live in houses or units?
If you have a young family do you want to bring your kids up in a house or a unit?
What happens to house prices in the next 20 years in Coffs Harbour if the supply becomes less and less, which it will do under the plan for our future. Where is the balance? Where is the urban sprawl?
It appears to me that Melbourne and Sydney logic is being applied to shape the future of Coffs Harbour.
Have your say, become involved, have a close look at where we are heading. If you think we are going too far in the direction of cramming more people into the spaces that we already have, then let’s get together and change it.
It is the Coffs Harbour Community who should be having a say in what our region will provide for.
Apparently in 2017, the community overwhelmingly supported infill”.
The above, is a social media statement from the Rodger Pryce – Sunday 5 September 2021.
Coffs Coast Outlook will publish all media releases by candidates for the council elections to now be held on 4 December so long as they have legally acceptable content.
Media releases can be sent to [email protected]
The infill development definition from Wikipedia cited above can be found here; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infill
Lead photo: Woolgooga- sourced from CHCC media release above.
This piece from the ABC Coffs Coast today is very current and makes for interesting listening;
“The Coffs Harbour City Council will consider a plan that would see more than 300 homes built in North Boambee Valley. Get the details here from your local ABC news team: https://ab.co/3DSvksJ