CHCC makes housing submission. Mayoral candidate gives his thoughts on housing.

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.

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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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.”

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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

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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

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“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.

An example of ‘urban infill’ from the UK – Photo; Pinterest

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.

Another example of Urban Infill. This is a design proposed in the U.S. Picture: builderonline.com

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]

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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

5 thoughts on “CHCC makes housing submission. Mayoral candidate gives his thoughts on housing.

  1. The sheer fact Coffs is having an in-fill discussion or debate shows how far behind it is. The more I look at it, the more it seems that the local government arm of NSW Government is basically given a brief: a set of fundamentals by which it can (and must) operate. These briefs are provided in various forms: types of plans, cultural requirements etc. A council management and staff then only have to tick off the checklist and you have a functioning government.

    This is pedestrian. It allows for non-inspirational, even backward, policy. There is nothing I can see in it that seeks by legislated requirement the best of the best, to look beyond, to utilise cutting-edge advances outside of the country, nor even within it.

    The latest Greater Sydney plan is instructive. Sydney, born of a tent camp, as it grew it planned and re-planned itself into vehicle logjams and tunnels and viaducts. Earlier films put out by earlier government departments are well worth a look in getting to understand this procedure. These are available on YouTube at various channels, including the wonderful National Film & Sound Archive collection. You’ll see there how a city tries to solve its problems which create later problems, which then sends the process into repeat.

    What Greater Sydney is trying to do is a re-set, but it’s the same process repeated, although as advanced as we have in this country. The plan essentially tries to create a living environment wherein everything you need is within a half hour’s drive from where you live. This is a scraping-up of the fundamentals of how Canberra was planned from the outset, from grass and dirt. But Canberra’s plan, even then and the moreso later through a highly specialised Commission set up specifically to further its planning principles, decades before Sydney did it, was an attempt to have all of that within five minutes commute.

    The latest plans, in other countries, does away with the Unit vs Housing debate, and is far beyond the contraints and problems of urban sprawl. These try to create living places where you don’t commute. The idea is to get people out of their homes and into open spaces or urban spaces so people can interact and engage. To walk and cycle. If you have to travel, this is by transit systems that are non-car, and attempt to operate with less impact on the environment, as close as it can to your doorstep. Some incredible innovations are already being built, though yet again, these will be forced to update as populations and technologies grow.

    Yet as they are, they put Coffs Harbour back in the very distant past. Please try to see what that means. It means we are having a debate, trying to reach into the future, with ideas and plans and proposals that have already fallen into distant memory elsewhere and entirely lost in relevence there.

    There’s no perfect urban plan. By its own nature what is envisioned for the future, long into the future as those futuristic plans elsewhere are, will sooner or later become problematic and redundant.

    So it comes down to this. A local government area can and must make the call by itself. It can reach forward into backwardness, be tick-box redundant in planning principles so management and staff keep their jobs, such as currently the state in Coffs, or it can bite the bullet and install a management team of far greater experience who can in the least achieve a less problematic, and problem causing, far more advanced planning culture that understands how to embrace latest developments (which are outside of this country) specifically relevent and workable to Coffs’ and its regions’ constraints and gifts.

    It is, actually, possible. You won’t get the latest guidance and requirements from the State — not in planning terms, which is a worldwide cause. (Incidentally, ‘planning’ as a profession is only a little over a century old, almost unbelievable; prior to this, back deep into history, towns and cities were planned by surveyors, artists, cardinals, architects, overlords and everything else!)

    There is no reason at all why a new council can’t utilise external planning achievements and protocols. They’re wonderful. Vibrant, healthy. And the best of the best allow for flexibility as later technologies, in terms of housing structures, transit vehicles, etc come into being. (Some places are setting about building non-impact housing that fuel themselves! — so a city doesn’t have to power the home, each is self-sufficient.)

    Out there, this morning having had a coffee and a brisk walk, is the new team of executives already trained and experienced in all of this, already buzzed with inspiration to do more. They’d be thrilled to come to Coffs, to set about its challenges and bring in the vastly superior future. Let’s reach out and get them.

  2. Sorry, in the latest developments of self-sufficient homes I should have mentioned that these include also providing their own water — an incredible advancement — no matter its environment, again, so the city doesn’t have to do it, and is integrated into city plans. This is far, far beyond the Coffs Harbour planning outlook. Yet it’s available to learn from and utilise right now.

  3. Methinks to allow a council to partake in future planning for our/or any small regional city is set for disaster, just take a look at our current council what they are doing to our future proofed council chambers / the traffic congestion they are about to create etc.
    Yes you certainly need input from all entity’s local and statewide .
    Damn good advice to bite the bullet and install a management team of far greater experience .

  4. Clearly there is a lot to understand in all this but 2 things spring to mind, being we are constrained by the mountains and we are flood prone. Mountains we can do nothing about but we can flood mitigate.
    It will be interesting to see if the 300 homes planned for North Boambee gain approval and how long flood mitigation takes before building even begins. I imagine there will be a diverse range of housing in this development. Not sure comparing our 1174sq LGA pop 77,000 with Ballin’s 485sq k pop 44,00 is useful as they are so geographically different and unique.

  5. Dramatically contrasting the above CHCC pedestrian, formulaic planning approach, and something commended to read for the open mind to tickle the thoughts, here is a city intended for the US desert being envisioned from scratch. Very different from my comment above, where councils, and countries, engage visionary planners, this nevertheless powerfully illustrates that sensational alternative thinking exists. This is definitely a project to keep an eye on.

    Would a new CHCC Mayor take it onboard to employ high excellence achievers in its executive, Coffs Harbour, along with its proper cultural precinct, would be the talk of Australia, with unimagined benefits. Like those benefits, the article is free:

    https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/telosa-marc-lore-blake-ingels-new-city/index.html

    A snippet from it, to take you away from the Coffs Harbour mindset:

    The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it. Now, he just needs somewhere to build it — and $400 billion in funding. The former Walmart executive last week unveiled plans for Telosa, a sustainable metropolis that he hopes to create, from scratch, in the American desert. The ambitious 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a purportedly drought-resistant water system. A so-called “15-minute city design” will allow residents to access their workplaces, schools and amenities within a quarter-hour commute of their homes.

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