Policy reform supports diverse housing supply in Hills rural areas

Published on 04 March 2021

(L + R) Mayor Byrne, Clr Preston, Rocco Polistina and Clr Gangemi.JPG

Homeowners in rural areas will now have more clarity and fairness surrounding the size of secondary dwellings.

The Hills Shire Council has moved to initiate a planning proposal to amend The Hills LEP to include a provision to increase the size of secondary dwellings in rural areas from a maximum of 60m² to 110m² or 20 per cent of the total floor area of the principal dwelling – whichever is greater.

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Michelle Byrne said the proposed amendments would improve the outcomes of secondary dwellings in rural zones, as well as provide the community with a greater mix of housing choices in the Shire.

“Currently, the ruling for secondary dwellings in our rural areas means someone with a very large primary dwelling can build a large secondary dwelling, while those who have a smaller primary dwelling end up being limited to 60m², which is not entirely fair,” Mayor Byrne said. 

“This new clause will mean a more reasonable and equitable outcome that responds to the demand for a greater diversity of housing choices in our rural areas,” she added.

These amendments have been made possible after the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment amended the Standard Instrument – Principal Local Environmental Plan to give Councils greater discretion to determine the size of secondary dwellings in rural areas.

“This is a step in the right direction,” Mayor Byrne said.

“This gives our residents the peace of mind and confidence that they can keep their family, such as their children, close,” she added.

Councillor Preston said she has long advocated for this change which gives rural residents in The Hills more housing choices.

“Increasing the secondary dwelling size to 110m² of liveable area will permit a two bedroom home to be built in a rural setting,” she said. 

“Empty nesters can downsize, remain on their property and receive a passive income if they rent out the original home or they can provide an affordable smaller dwelling for their children or a young family.

“It’s about rural land owners having more choices to remain on their land, especially in their senior years and sharing that space with others who can contribute to maintaining their property.

“I think our rural residents will embrace the opportunity. I anticipate that this new change will be formalised by the end of this year,” Clr Preston added.

Annangrove resident and long-time campaigner to increase the size of secondary dwellings in rural zones, Rocco Polistina, said he commended Councillors for their vision and commitment to the rural community.

“It’s going to help families and their kids and, down the track, give people a second income,” Mr Polistina said.                                                  

“It’s great to think that Council is looking long-term at how we can continue to live on rural land and support it,” he added.

The proposed amendment applies to those located in rural zoned land where secondary dwellings are already permitted with consent, including in the RU1 Primary Production, RU2 Rural Landscape and RU6 Transition zones.

Once a planning proposal has been prepared, it will be reported to the Local Planning Panel. Following their advice, the proposal will then be forwarded to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for Gateway Determination.

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