Blue Mountains News

Blue Mountains wins exemption from new planning rules, ensuring the City and community within a World Heritage Area is protected

By Blue Mountains City Council
Posted: 1 Jul 2024
The Blue Mountains has been exempted from new state planning reforms that would have significantly increased building heights across the City, after years of advocacy.

Member for Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, and Blue Mountains Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, both applauded the exemption that was announced last week, just before the first of the low and mid-rise housing reforms were to take effect from 1 July 2024.

“This is what happens when two levels of government, and community, work together,” Mayor Greenhill said. “I thank Trish Doyle for her advocacy, which along with the Council’s own advocacy and advocacy from organisations like the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, has been heard.

“The Blue Mountains has been a strong voice against the application of these rules in the Blue Mountains for some time.  Trish Doyle has supported us all the way.

“We fought these increases to building heights and densities, as they would not only have increased the risk to residents, living in one of the most bushfire-prone regions in Australia, but also to our precious World Heritage environment.”

The State Government announced that the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and Wollondilly local government areas were not included in the changes due to their heightened risk of bushfire and flood. Bathurst has also not been included because there is no suitable R2 zoned land in the local government area that meets the policy objectives.

Member for Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, said: “Thank you to my colleagues in the Minns Government who have recognised that these sweeping changes were not suitable for the Blue Mountains.

“We did not want to put our community in harm’s way, particularly during any bushfire emergency, and we did not want to jeopardise our unique environment.

“This decision was the right one.”

Mayor Greenhill said: “The Blue Mountains will still meet its new housing targets, which will be low rise, unobtrusive houses that can be adapted for social and affordable housing.

“In return the State Government will not force us to build six-storey tower blocks in town centres and will not force us to build in bushfire zone areas.”

The first of the State Government’s low and mid-rise housing reforms will allow development applications for dual occupancies and semi-detached dwellings to be submitted in more R2 residential zones in other parts of the state.

Other low and mid-rise housing reforms will commence later in 2024.

Council’s significant core concerns about the latest proposed planning reforms were:

  • Overriding local planning controls to allow residential flat buildings to a height of 16-21 metres (4 to 6 storeys) in all town centres and all Medium Density zones within 800m of a train station or town centre, across the Blue Mountains Local Government Area – from Glenbrook to Mt Victoria. This would be a non-refusable development standard.
  • Allowing larger dual occupancy development on small lots (450m2) in any zone where dual occupancies are permitted, even in areas located well away from town centres and railway stations, is completely out of character with the Blue Mountains and having no regard to stormwater runoff into the World Heritage Area.
  • Permitting medium density housing (multi-dwelling housing and manor houses) in the low-density residential zones near railway stations and town centres, with building heights of up to 9.5 metres (2-3 storeys).

“This exemption is a win for the Blue Mountains, its unique character and precious environment, as well as the community,” Mayor Greenhill said.

 
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