Gladys Berejiklian tells Menai forum duplexes may become complying development in some areas

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a housing affordability forum at Menai the government was considering fast-tracking the approvals process for duplex homes in some areas.

Ms Berejiklian said duplexes in certain areas could be made complying development.

At present, development applications (DAs) for duplexes or dual occupancies  – two homes on one block, which is often subdivided to provide separate title – require council assessment.

The proposed change would allow applications, providing they met specific criteria, to be determined by a council or accredited private certifier without the need for a full DA.

The government is already experiencing strong opposition from some councils to moves to make town houses, terraces and manor houses complying development. 

Sutherland Shire has had a surge in duplex DAs since changes were made in the 2015 local environmental plan.

Chief executive of Masterton Homes, David Masterton, told the forum, “duplexes and triplexes are a more affordable way of providing housing, but, from when the customer pays a deposit to when we start [building], can range from 12 months to two years”.

“Will the government consider treating them as complying development?” he asked.

Ms Berejiklian said, “We support a ‘horses for courses’ approach in different areas”.

“I think in some areas there is an opportunity for us to do that.

“Watch this space”.

Ms Berejiklian was delayed in traffic, arriving about 45 minutes late for the forum at Club Central on Thursday night.

About 60 people attended the invitation-only event, which was organised by Heathcote MP Lee Evans.

They included representatives of “stakeholders”, from churches, charities and community organisations to real estate agents, banks, developers, community housing providers and Sutherland Shire Council.

Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said of the housing situation, “There is a crisis here and we are at the tipping point”.

Mr Roberts said he believed supplying more homes was 90 per cent of the solution.

He blamed the former Labor government for not providing enough new homes, with Premier Bob Carr declaring, “Sydney is full”.

Mr Roberts said, under the present government, new home building had reached record levels.

“We have to make touch choices and take the community with us”, he said.

Mr Roberts said Sutherland Shire was “a great example of local and state governments working together to provide diversity in housing.

Diversity included “the missing middle” – townhouses, terrace houses and manor houses.

Mr Roberts was asked whether young home buyers had unrealistic expectations, compared with earlier generations who started in two and three bedroom homes.

Mr Roberts said the government wanted to give people choice and “empower” them.

He said some people would choose larger homes and be prepared to travel further to work.

However, key workers, such as police and nurses, should be able to obtain affordable housing closer to work, he said.

Mr Roberts said some buyers in new apartment developments close to transport were prepared to forego a parking space and save $60,000 to $80,000 on the cost of their home.

The developer of a new project with 77 apartments next to Heathcote station said he was required to provide 140 car spaces, with the cost having to be passed on to buyers.

He also asked for more land in the Menai area to be “unlocked”.

Chief executive of the Greater Sydney Commission Sarah Hill said, following public consultation on the draft Sydney South Plan, “we have been meeting with stakeholders and refining our approach”.

Ms Hill said submissions had called for quality in new homes, maintaining the character of the area and aligning development with with infrastructure.

”We are hearing that loud and clear,” she said.

Sutherland Shire mayor Carmelo Pesce told the Premier the council was committed to working with the government on providing more affordable housing and new infrastructure.

Cr Pesce said the council also believed it was important to maintain the character of the area.

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