Council calls for shire to be permanently exempted from new housing law as residents rise up against townhouse projects

Sutherland Shire Council has warned it may seek to ban townhouse, villa and dual occupancy developments in R2 low density zones unless the shire is permanently exempted from a new state government housing code.

Only seven councils in Sydney, including Sutherland, permit medium density development in their low density residential zones.

The council has flagged a change if the state government imposes the new housing code, which makes medium density housing complying development.

Under the code, if developers adhere to basic guidelines, they don't have to go through the normal development application process and neighbours are not notified.

Following widespread protests, most Sydney councils were given a 12-month exemption from the code, which expires on July 1, 2019.

Sutherland Shire Council wrote last year to Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and shire MPs, seeking a permanent exemption.

This month's council meeting was told there had been no reply from the state government.

The council will further lobby Mr Roberts while preparing contingency measures, such as a possible ban in R2 zones, if the request is not granted.

That change could be included in the next local environmental plan (LEP), which is due to be introduced in 2021, and requires state government approval.

The council will present figures to Mr Roberts showing the shire will meet, and may exceed, the building target set by the government.

Over the last three and a half years, 2003 low rise medium density dwellings have been approved, with a further 461 dwellings still to be determined.

The South District plan set a five-year completions target of 5200 dwellings of all types to 2020/21.

The council has approved 6261 new homes, with a further 1466 pending.

Not all approvals will be converted into new dwellings, particularly with the housing downturn.

The council's concern about medium density development coincides with protests in several suburbs, including two on the weekend.

About 90 people attended a meeting in Kurrajong Street, Sutherland, where two developments in an R2 zone are strongly opposed.

The meeting was also designed to draw attention to development concerns across the shire.

Residents were asked to sign an online petition:

At Jannali, residents are fighting a development application for 18 townhouses on two blocks in an R2 zone, with one vehicle access point from a cul-de-sac.

Sylvania residents are trying to stop a DA for two blocks at 51-53 Melrose Avenue, providing for 2 homes, comprising nine four-bedroom townhouses and three three-bedroom villas.

Each villa has an attic, designed as a living area, which residents claim is designed to evade the 60/40 rule, which confines double storey to the front 60 per cent of a property.

Residents say, if the development proceeds, the new homes will all effectively be two storeys and look over the backyards of about a dozen existing houses.

Another contentious townhouse DA is in Gannons Road, Caringbah, where, in September 2018, the Sutherland Shire Local Planning Panel gave the developer four months to come up with “a more skillful design” to minimise adverse impacts on adjoining properties.

The proposed complex of seven townhouses would look into the backyards of many existing properties, and was described by Cr Carol Provan as “the worst case of medium density overdevelopment I have seen” during 18 years on the council.