The State Government’s new Low Rise Housing Diversity Code is “overdevelopment by stealth”, says Penrith Councillor Karen McKeown.
Formerly the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code, the renamed code looks to fast-track the approval of housing projects such as low-rise dual occupancies, manor houses (a single house comprising of three or four dwellings) and terraces from July 1.
The introduction of the code comes after years of backlash from councils, including Penrith, for its stripping of Councillor powers in the Development Application (DA) approval process.
Under the new code, developers who adhere to basic requirements will bypass the usual DA process.
Surrounding neighbours will also be given only 14 days notice of a proposed development before a certificate is issued and again seven days notice before any construction commences.
This code will apply to permitting R1 (general residential), R2 (low density residential), R3 (medium density residential) and RU5 (village) zones under the Local Environmental Plan.
Cr McKeown fears this could create repeats of the situation in Kingswood, where a cluster of boarding houses has emerged.
“This code essentially says if you tick all the boxes you can build certain developments pretty much anywhere, regardless of what the local area looks like, having no regard to the ecological value or how it fits in with the neighbourhood or infrastructure,” she said.
“People will come to complain to the council about it but it’s out of our hands; we’ve lost the ability to have our say about what our community looks like.”
Penrith Council applied for and were granted an exemption to the former Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code to delay such changes coming to fruition.
But now all Councils in NSW must comply.
“COVID-19 is the excuse, they say they need to fast-track development because of the situation but people see through that,” Cr McKeown said.
“Planning is a long-term proposition and it needs a lot of consultation and a lot of resident input and what they are proposing does not allow for that.”
Penrith MP Stuart Ayres, who stood alongside residents who were outspoken in their opposition to the Kingswood boarding house clusters, said the code will promote well-designed medium density housing options.
“The Code allows for well-designed dual occupancies, terraces and manor houses to be developed under a fast-track complying development approval, to encourage more housing diversity,” he said.
“The Code only applies where Penrith Council have already zoned land for this type of development.”
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Nicola Barton is a news journalist with the Western Weekender, primarily covering crime and politics.