Rail Corridor Plans are 'Unacceptable' says Hills Mayor

Published on 10 December 2015

Mayor Michelle Byrne.jpg

Mayor of the Hills Shire, Dr Michelle Byrne, said Council has been let down and misled by the NSW Department of Planning’s Sydney Metro Northwest Precinct Proposals and has called for the plans to be removed from public exhibition until the plans are in a form that Council is willing to endorse.

Mayor Byrne said a briefing with the Department of Planning revealed that not only has the number of dwellings around Showground Station been increased from the original target of 3,600 to 5,000 - floor space ratios actually allow for more than 10,000 new dwellings to be built.

“Councillors were shocked to learn that densities have been increased by stealth and without consultation,” she said. “The Sydney Metro Northwest Precinct Proposals were released Sunday afternoon, yet we only received a briefing the following Tuesday night.”

“It's hard not to feel betrayed after Council has acted collaboratively and in good faith with the Department of Planning all along to agree on dwelling targets – to learn that this could blow out to 10,000 is outrageous and unacceptable.”

“Our own Council officers cannot release plans like these without Council endorsement.  We trusted the Department of Planning by suggesting these precincts be ‘priority precincts’.  All Councillors are alarmed at the process and the results. We are sick of tokenistic engagement and I will be writing to the Minister for him to intervene.”

Mayor Byrne said Councillors had already experienced significant angst at Council meetings from people who stand to make a windfall profit from these zones demanding higher densities.

“I understand the need for increased densities around the new stations, but I can never support this,” she said.

“The Department of Planning is trying to smother this unsustainable available capacity with unfounded predictions that only half will be taken up - since when do our developers do that? We have numerous JRPP approvals where Council’s standards are set aside due to State Planning controls that allow six to seven times the density,” she said.

Mayor Byrne said the proposed new Caddies Creek sports fields were an example of infrastructure planned for just 3,500 additional dwellings – 10,000 would need significantly increased amounts of open space, more road upgrades and improved community facilities – none of which is being provided for by the Department of Planning in their proposals. 

“The problem is that the plans we are being shown do not increase open space in line with the increased dwelling targets,” she said. “We are being taken for a ride with a blatant lack of consideration about the real needs of communities in these increased densities.”

Mayor Byrne said Council would now need to review the proposals for all three precincts – Showground, Bella Vista and Kellyville stations - in depth to ensure there were no more devils in the detail.

“The reduced setbacks, smaller lot sizes for apartments and resultant traffic chaos will lead to serious problems.”

“We believe our own plan, The Hills Corridor Strategy, which was based on the original housing targets, has got the vision for our future right.”

“These precincts are facing densities that should be reserved for Sydney CBD.”

“The densities are unacceptable. The floor space ratios are unacceptable. And the amount of green space offered is unacceptable.”

“Already we are seeing a strong community backlash over these plans on Facebook. I want to make it clear that what is on exhibition is not Council’s preferred approach.”

“I encourage all residents – not just those around the new stations - to have a look at what is being proposed and tell the Department of Planning what you think.”

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The Sydney Metro Northwest Priority Urban Renewal Corridor - Precinct Proposals are on exhibition until 28 February 2016 on the NSW Government's Planning & Environment website.