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Providing housing supply, choice and affordability, with access to jobs, services and public transport

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A city supported by infrastructureInfrastructure
A collaborative cityCollaboration
A city for peoplePeople
Housing the cityHousing
A city of great placesPlaces
A well connected cityConnected
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An efficient cityEfficiency
A resilient cityResilience
Planning Priority N5

A Metropolis of Three Cities sets out objectives to deliver housing supply and affordability. The location, type and cost of housing requires choices that have far-reaching impacts on quality of life, including time spent commuting, which affects people's ability to spend time with family or in the community.

The housing continuum recognises all types of housing from crisis and social housing through to market housing. Housing is more than just dwellings and needs to be considered in a local context with a place-based approach.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment's projections of population and household growth in the North District translate to a need for an additional 92,000 homes in the period 2016 to 2036.

Housing diversity and choice

New housing must be in the right places to meet demand for different housing types, tenure, price points, preferred locations and design. Housing supply must be coordinated with local infrastructure to create liveable, walkable neighbourhoods with direct, safe and universally designed pedestrian and cycling connections to shops, services and public transport. This means that some areas are not appropriate for additional housing due to natural or amenity constraints, or lack of access to services and public transport.

Planning for housing needs to consider the type of dwellings required to respond to expected changes in household and age structures (refer to Figure 9). The number of single-person households is expected to increase by 31,750 to 2036. The number of single-parent and couple-only households in particular, is also expected to increase by 2036. This requires more smaller homes, group homes, adaptable homes of universal design and aged care facilities.

Figure 9: North District projected household structure 2011-2036

Download this image s3fs-public/eastern_figure_09_0.png (format PNG / 0 KB )

Source: NSW Department of Planning and Environment, 2016 New South Wales State and Local Government Area Household Projections and Implied Dwelling Requirements 2016 to 2036, NSW Government, Sydney

At the same time, households comprised of couples with children will remain the highest proportion of households. This requires housing that can meet the needs of families as well as flexible housing types that can accommodate multiple generations and family groups living together, as well as more accessible and adaptable housing of universal design.

Forty-eight per cent of the District's housing is provided as either apartment or medium density housing. Multi-unit dwellings can provide important housing for seniors and more affordable homes for young people. This needs to be balanced with medium density row, terrace and villa homes that provide increased housing options, especially for larger households. A diverse mix of housing can provide greater opportunities to cater for a range of changing needs.

Housing preferences

Research into housing preferences in Greater Sydney has shown that people generally prefer to remain within their local area, with 82 per cent of residents moving into a new home within 15 kilometres of their former residence8.

In the North District, there are four housing market demand areas (refer to Figure 10):

  • Northern Beaches - aligned with the Northern Beaches Local Government Area
  • North Shore - from the northern shore of Sydney Harbour to the northern most point of the Ku-ring-gai Local Government Area and focused around the T1 North Shore train line
  • Central North - from Parramatta River through Ryde and Hornsby in the north-south corridor around the T1 Northern train line
  • Rouse Hill-Dural - of which a small part lies in Hornsby Local Government Area.

These housing markets mean that providing supply in one market demand area may not satisfy demand in another. Understanding need and capacity in individual housing markets will better satisfy residents' preferred housing locations.

Figure 10: North District housing market areas.

A map showing the district boundary and the four different housing market areas within the district.

Source: Greater Sydney Commission, 2016 adapted from Implementing metropolitan planning strategies: taking into account local housing demand. Technical report (2013). City Futures Research Centre UNSW.

Download this image north_figure_10.jpg (format PNG / 260 KB )

Historic housing supply

Dwelling completions are at their highest levels in 16 years for Greater Sydney, although the North District has experienced fluctuations in the amount of dwelling approvals over the past decade from a high in 1999-20009.

In 2016-2017, completions for the North District totalled 4,408 dwellings. In the 10 years from 2007-08 to 2016-17, 29,554 dwellings were completed - 40 per cent of these were in the past three years. Over the past five years, almost 55 per cent of dwelling completions were in Ryde, Ku-ring-gai, and Hornsby local government areas.

More than 90 per cent of these recent completions are multi-unit dwellings, in contrast to the existing house stock which remains dominated by detached dwellings. Apartment completions have concentrated in Ryde, St Ives, Lane Cove, Chatswood and Dee Why and also along train lines.

Multi-unit dwellings provide compact housing for seniors, homes for single people and more affordable homes for young people and young families. The remaining housing completions are medium density, comprising three to five units, new single dwellings or dual occupancy dwellings. These are more prevalent in the west of the District.

Over the past 10 years, the North District has had an annual average dwelling completion rate of 2,950. Forecast supply of housing growth in the North District has identified the potential for dwelling completions above this annual average in the next five years.

Current initiatives and opportunities

Additional capacity for housing supply is well progressed across much of the District. Current State-led initiatives include:

  • Macquarie Park Urban Renewal Area including Macquarie University (Herring Road) Precinct, North Ryde Station Precinct and Macquarie Park investigation area
  • St Leonards/Crows Nest Planned Precinct
  • Cherrybrook Station Planned Precinct
  • Frenchs Forest Planned Precinct
  • Ingleside Growth Area
  • Communities Plus Project at Ivanhoe Estate as part of the Macquarie Park Urban Renewal Area.

Planned Precincts will be consistent with the objectives and strategies of A Metropolis of Three Cities and this district plan to enhance liveability, sustainability and productivity. These projects will be well planned and designed, delivered in collaboration with councils and informed by State government agencies and their asset plans. This planning will be supported by a Special Infrastructure Contribution or similar satisfactory arrangement to help fund the delivery of essential community infrastructure such as health facilities, schools, open space and roads.

Local government strategies that identified opportunities to increase capacity for housing in the North District include:

  • Hornsby Shire Housing Strategy (2011)
  • Manly Housing and Employment Targets Report (2011)
  • Pittwater Local Planning Strategy (2011).

Further potential urban renewal opportunities to align growth with infrastructure investment include:

  • leveraging the investment in NorthConnex on Pennant Hills Road
  • optimising opportunities to connect to Sydney Metro Northwest, City & Southwest
  • leveraging the investment in projects that are under investigation such as the committed Western Harbour Tunnel & Beaches Link, subject to final business case and funding.

More housing in the right location

Creating capacity for new housing in the right locations requires clear criteria for where capacity is to be located. Accommodating homes needs to be linked to local infrastructure - both to optimise existing infrastructure and to maximise investment in new infrastructure. Opportunities for capacity that aligns with infrastructure can be realised by urban renewal, local infill developments and land release areas (refer to Figure 11).

Urban renewal

Opportunities for urban renewal need to be considered by location and by capacity of existing and proposed infrastructure. In older more established parts of Greater Sydney, urban renewal opportunities may exist around regional transport and strategic centres where links for walking and cycling promote a healthy lifestyle and contribute to liveability.

Where there is significant investment in mass transit corridors, both existing and proposed, urban renewal may best be investigated in key nodes along the corridor. Corridor investigations can provide a longer term strategic context while the development of precincts within the corridor is sequenced over time.

Locational criteria for urban renewal investigation opportunities include:

  • alignment with investment in regional and district infrastructure which acknowledges the catalytic impacts of infrastructure such as Sydney Metro Northwest and Sydney Metro City & Southwest, NorthConnex, and the Northern Beaches Hospital
  • other possible future investments such as the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link and opportunities created by enhancements to existinginfrastructure such as upgrades to schools, open space including sporting facilities and transport
  • accessibility to jobs, noting that over half of Greater Sydney's jobs are generated in metropolitan and strategic centres
  • accessibility to regional transport, noting that high-frequency transport services can create efficient connections to local transport services and expand the catchment area of people who can access regional transport
  • efficient interchanges with a comprehensive walking and cycling network
  • catchment areas within walking distance (up to 10 minutes) of centres with rail, light rail or regional bus transport areas of high social housing concentration where there is good access to services, transport and jobs distance from special land uses such as ports and airports.

Local infill development

Local infill development - the missing middle - refers to medium density housing such as villas and townhouses within existing areas, that provide greater housing variety.

Councils are in the best position to investigate and confirm which parts of their local government areas are suited to additional medium density opportunities. As part of their investigations councils should consider:

  • transitional areas between urban renewal precincts and existing neighbourhoods
  • residential land around local centres where links for walking and cycling help promote a healthy lifestyle
  • areas with good proximity to regional transport where more intensive urban renewal is not suitable due to challenging topography or other characteristics
  • lower density parts of suburban Greater Sydney undergoing replacement of older housing stock
  • areas with existing social housing that could benefit from urban renewal and which provide good access to transport and jobs.

Design guidelines set out in the NSW Department of Planning and Environment's Draft Medium Density Design Guide show how this infill can promote good design outcomes.

New communities in land release areas

The Growth Area programs of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment guide the development of new communities in land release areas and provide significant capacity into the medium and longer term. These include the Ingleside Growth Area with the potential for a new community of 3,400 dwellings.

Figure 11: North District future housing supply

Source: Greater Sydney Commission, NSW Department of Planning and Environment and NSW Government Housing Affordability Package.

Housing strategies

Housing strategies are to be prepared by councils for a local government area or district and given effect through amendments to local environmental plans. To deliver coordinated outcomes the development of housing strategies are to be aligned with councils' community strategic planning and to inform local strategic planning statements and local environmental plans. To address housing supply, housing strategies are to be developed by councils to:

  • make provision for the anticipated growth associated with the 0-5 and 6-10 year housing targets (when agreed)
  • align projected growth with existing and proposed local infrastructure and open space improvements (refer to Planning Priorities N1, N3 and N20)
  • identify the right locations for growth, including areas that are unsuitable for significant change in the short to medium term
  • identify capacity to contribute to the District's 20-year strategic housing target
  • inform the Affordable Rental Housing Target Schemes for development precincts
  • coordinate the planning and delivery of local and State infrastructure.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment will prepare guidelines to support housing strategies as outlined in A Metropolis of Three Cities (Objective 10).

Housing targets

Table 2 sets five-year housing targets for the North District. These are based on the Districts dwelling needs and existing opportunities to deliver supply. They include traditional detached and attached houses, apartments and granny flats. The five-year targets are generally consistent with known housing approvals and construction activity. These are minimum targets and largely reflect delivery potential under current planning controls.

Table 2: North District housing targets by local government area

LGA 0-5 year housing supply target:
Hornsby 4,350
Hunter's Hill 150
Ku-ring-gai 4,000
Lane Cove 1,900
Mosman 300
North Sydney 3,000
Northern Beaches 3,400
Ryde 7,600
Willoughby 1,250
North District Total 25,950

Each council is to develop 6-10 year housing targets. The 6-10 year housing targets will be developed iteratively through the housing strategy. The strategy is to demonstrate capacity for steady housing supply into the medium term. Principles for housing are set out below in and will be expanded on in guidance by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Meeting housing demand over 20 years requires a longer term outlook. A Metropolis of Three Cities sets a District 20-year strategic housing target of 92,000, equating to an average annual supply of 4,600 dwellings, or one in eight of all new homes in Greater Sydney over the next 20 years.

Future Transport 2056 identifies city-shaping transport projects that will, in the long term, improve accessibility to jobs and services, and act as a stimulus for additional housing supply. To deliver the 20-year strategic housing target, councils should, in local housing strategies, investigate and recognise opportunities for long-term housing supply associated with city-shaping transport corridors; growing, emerging and new centres; and other areas with high accessibility.

Principles for housing strategies

Housing strategies play an important role in planning for more liveable neighbourhoods and to meet housing demand by responding to the following principles:

  • Housing need: the projected housing need and demographic characteristics of the existing and growing community, including different cultural, socio-economic and age groups and the availability of a range of housing types, tenures and price points.
  • Diversity: including a mix of dwelling types, a mix of sizes, universal design, seniors and aged care housing, student accommodation, group homes, and boarding houses.
  • Market preferences: market demand considerations that drive the take-up of housing, including local housing preferences.
  • Alignment of infrastructure: opportunities to optimise transport infrastructure enabling access to jobs, health, education and recreation facilities, that align with State and local government infrastructure priorities (refer to 'More housing in the right locations').
  • Displacement: managing potential impacts of growth on existing communities such as displacement by understanding the location and volume of affordable rental housing stock.
  • Amenity: opportunities that improve amenity including recreation, the public realm, and increased walkable and cycle-friendly connections to centres.
  • Engagement: engaging the community on a range of options and neighbourhood priorities that can be integrated with new housing and benefit existing and future communities.
  • Efficiency: opportunities for innovations in waste management, water and energy provision by determining the nature of growth, location and demand for utilities.

Key technical aspects of preparing a housing strategy to improve housing affordability and choice will be further supported by a new planning circular and guidelines to be prepared by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. Key aspects include:

  • Capacity: land with potential for rezoning for residential development.
  • Viability: the assessment of new areas and whether the capacity created is financially viable for a range of configurations (one, two, three or more bedrooms) and is consistent with market demand and planning controls.
  • Good design: buildings that exhibit design excellence in neighbourhoods that are walkable, cycle friendly, connected to transport and services, and have a mix of land uses to support active healthy and socially-connected communities.
  • Environment: green infrastructure including urban bushland and waterways, local features (such as topography, heritage and cultural elements, visual impacts, natural hazards such as flooding, special land uses and other environmental constraints) lot sizes, strata ownership and the transition between different built forms.
  • Mix: a mix of housing types allows people to relocate within their local area and stay connected to community services, friends and family.
  • Supply: land zoned for residential development, served by adequate infrastructure and ready for development projects.
  • Affordable rental housing: through housing diversity for those on moderate incomes and affordable rental housing for low and very low-income households.
  • Local character: recognising the distinctive and valued combination of characteristics that contribute to local identity.
  • Social housing: more and better access to supported and/or subsidised housing.
  • Delivery: the staging of enabling infrastructure, upgrades or expansions of local infrastructure such as schools, open space including sportsgrounds and community facilities.
  • Monitoring: homes completed and ready for occupation.

A place-based planning approach to the development of housing strategies will help facilitate high quality urban outcomes including the creation of walkable neighbourhoods which support active and healthy lifestyles, as well as the creation and renewal of great places (refer to Planning Priority N6).

Affordable Rental Housing Targets

Housing has a dual social and economic role across Greater Sydney. Communities require housing that meets changing demographic needs over time and that provides stability. At the same time housing has an economic productivity role by providing housing choice and affordability for a cross-section of workers.

Research and testing of needs through stakeholder and community consultation reaffirms the critical importance of providing a diversity of housing across the housing continuum in Greater Sydney.

Ensuring a steady supply of market housing in locations supported by existing or planned services and amenity with an emphasis on public transport access is outlined in Objective 10 of A Metropolis of Three Cities.

The Affordable Rental Housing State Environmental Planning Policy provides incentives for development projects to include a 10-year term for affordable rental housing dwellings for very low to moderate income households; however, the areas where this is being applied are limited.

A Metropolis of Three Cities includes Affordable Rental Housing Targets for very low to low-income households in Greater Sydney. Affordable Rental Housing Targets that are generally in the range of 5-10 per cent of new residential floor space are subject to viability. A Metropolis of Three Cities identifies the need for further work by the Greater Sydney Commission to support the implementation of the Affordable Rental Housing Targets including consideration of allocation, ownership, management and delivery models.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment and the Greater Sydney Commission will also jointly investigate ways to facilitate housing diversity through innovative purchase and rental models. This collaboration will also develop mechanisms to deliver the Affordable Rental Housing Targets.

Further opportunities for planning to support housing affordability and diversity measures include:

  • more compact housing, either on smaller land lots or through a proportion of smaller apartments of innovative design to support moderate-income households and particularly key workers and skilled workers in targeted employment areas such as health and education precincts
  • new owner-developer apartment models that support lower cost and more flexible delivery of apartments for like-minded owner groups.

Prepare local or district housing strategies that address the following:

a. the delivery of five-year housing supply targets for each local government area
b. the delivery of 6-10 year (when agreed) housing supply targets for each local government area
c. capacity to contribute to the longer term 20-year strategic housing target for the District
d. the housing strategy requirements outlined in Objective 10 of A Metropolis of Three Cities that include:

i. creating capacity for more housing in the right locations
ii. supporting planning and delivery of growth areas and planned precincts as relevant to each local government area
iii. supporting investigation of opportunities for alignment with investment in regional and district infrastructure
iv. supporting the role of centres.

City of Ryde Council
Hornsby Shire Council
Hunter's Hill Council
Ku-ring-gai Council
Lane Cove Council
Mosman Council
North Sydney Council
Northern Beaches Council
Willoughby City Council


Prepare Affordable Rental Housing Target Schemes following development of implementation arrangements.

Councils and other planning authorities