Showground Precinct - Frequently Asked Questions
Published on 14 March 2018
What is the status of the Showground Precinct?
The NSW Government rezoned the Showground Precinct for high and medium density development on 15 December 2017. This rezoning was the outcome of an extensive planning process led by the Department of Planning and Environment which commenced in August 2014.
The Showground Precinct was one of four Precincts identified by the NSW Government to be planned as part of its ‘Planned Precinct Program’ along the Sydney Metro Northwest. Whilst the land has been rezoned, in order for development to occur, additional guidance is required in the form of a development control plan, contribution plan (infrastructure plan) and public domain plan. These documents have been prepared by Council to support the rezoning of the Precinct and have recently been exhibited for public comment.
Why did Council have input into the Showground Precinct Plan?
Council, along with other members of the community, is a stakeholder in the planning process. Council has a responsibility to act on behalf of the broader Hills Shire community. As Council will be responsible for assessing future development and delivering and managing various pieces of infrastructure required to support future population growth, it was essential that it had input into the process.
Have the maximum Floor Space Ratios changed from what was exhibited by the NSW Government?
The floor space ratios that were gazetted by the NSW Government are generally the same as what was exhibited. In fact land close to Carrington Road now has a higher floor space ratio.
One of the key post exhibition amendments was to introduce a base and incentive floor space ratio requirement and a provision which specifies that in order to achieve the maximum floor space potential for a site a development must include housing diversity, include at least the minimum parking requirement and have an area of at least 10,000m2.
Why has the Department of Planning and Environment capped the yield within the Precinct to 5,000 dwellings and how will the cap be applied?
Based on the development standards which apply to the Precinct, the overall yield is likely to be slightly over 9,000 dwellings.
However the NSW Government has recognised that there are some outstanding infrastructure issues which have not been finalised, including schools. For this reason the NSW Government has capped the yield until such time as the outstanding infrastructure issues have been resolved. It is anticipated that once these outstanding matters have been sorted, the NSW Government will reconsider the cap.
Development applications will be assessed on a ‘first come first served’ basis and will be subject to the relevant standards and controls applying to each site. Council is liaising with the Department to resolve outstanding infrastructure issues. It is anticipated that the regional infrastructure matters will be addressed prior to the cap being reached.
How does the density for the Showground Precinct compare to other locations?
Compared to other renewal precincts across Sydney, the density planned for the Showground Precinct is quite high, for a suburban location (103 dwellings per hectare excluding the Castle Hill Showground). By comparison, the Rhodes East planned precinct proposes a density of 109 dwellings per hectare and Breakfast Point facilitates a density of 50 dwellings per hectare.
The plans for the Precinct include a density incentive whereby a developer can get the maximum density for their site if their development site is large and if the development includes some larger apartments and minimum parking provision.
The Plan does not force developers to provide larger apartments. If a developer only wants to provide smaller apartments then they can do so. However they will not be able to achieve the maximum development potential of their site. They will only be able to develop at the base density.
Suggestions that Council only wants larger apartments in order to stop development are incorrect. Council has consistently sought to encourage development that includes a diversity of apartment types and sizes (both big and small) and a mix of 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3+ bedroom apartments.
Lack of space within apartments is a considerable detractor for people looking to move from a house into an apartment. It is imperative that high density living to becomes a more viable housing option for a broad variety of household types.
The NSW taxpayer has significantly contributed to the $9 billion Sydney Metro Northwest and it is important that as many different household types are able to find a home next to this investment.
Downtowns around the world are striving to attract families because of the community benefits they provide. Requiring at least a moderate proportion of new apartments to be larger will ensure that the high density housing stock is capable of accommodating larger households such as families, downsizers, or people who simply require more space.
Why does it seem that developers are withdrawing from the Showground Precinct?
You may have noticed a number of news articles and comments on websites and social media stating that developers are leaving the Showground Precinct. Decisions by developers to invest or not to invest in the Showground Precinct or any other Precinct for that matter are likely to be affected by a range of factors including the economic cycle, the quantity and availability of apartment choice in the market place and the price of securing land, both across metropolitan Sydney and in the Shire itself. There is still a lot of interest and work occurring within the Showground Precinct.
How long will it take for all development to be completed within the Precinct?
The rezoning of the Precinct is the first step in a 25-30 year cycle, which will see the Precinct evolve from low density to medium and high density housing.
Within the Department of Planning and Environment’s finalisation report, the demand for apartments in the Precinct is likely to see a maximum uptake of around 5,000 dwellings over the next 20 years, based on economic feasibility and market demand. Having regard to this, full redevelopment of the Precinct (potentially over 9,000 dwellings) is not expected until beyond this 20-year period.
As development is likely to occur over an extended period of time many sites within the Precinct will not necessarily be developed in the short to medium term. Many residents will continue to live within the Precinct during this period and need not give up enjoying their properties.
What are the next steps?
Submissions received during the exhibition of the draft development control plan, contributions plan and public domain plan will be considered and reported back to Council for adoption. Furthermore, Council will continue to liaise with applicants as to what is required for lodgement of development applications within the Precinct.
Correcting some of the untruths about Council owned land
- Council does not have a pecuniary interest in land within the Showground Precinct. It only owns community land within the Precinct which will be used for community purposes such as open space and community facilities. There is land within the Precinct which is identified for acquisition by Council. However this land will be for open space and road widening.
- The former Council site was acquired by the NSW Government more than four years ago to allow the construction of the Sydney Metro Northwest. Any decision or future plans is now a matter for the NSW Government. Council is not set to gain any profits from the site as we no longer own it.
- Council did formerly own land on Gay Street near Castle Towers, which was rezoned for higher density development. Council went through a rigorous process that took more than 15 years to complete. The site, among others, was deemed to accept more yield because of its proximity to the Castle Hill Station. Plans were showcased to residents during a number of public exhibitions, before it was officially signed off by the NSW Government. It should also be noted that the site is located in the Shire’s major centre – the place expected to have the greatest density. The centre will also include a mix of urban activities, including retail, community, recreation and a mix of high and medium density housing. The proceeds of any development activity is returned to the community.
- Council has not turned down, or refused to accept, any development applications directly adjacent to the Showground Precinct.