Despite its best-laid plans to keep it under wraps, two weeks ago the NSW government unintentionally raised its skirt on a list of Sydney and regional suburbs now being earmarked for higher-density (aka affordable) housing.

While the state government has yet to comment, documents  ‘leaked’ online outline plans to rezone land to build a lot of new homes by 2027.

It’s understood an initial eight Sydney suburbs will be rezoned. As part of its signature housing push, planning rules within 400 metres of key heavy-use train stations around Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle will also be amended.

What may have peeved the NSW government off the most is tacit confirmation embedded within leaked plans that the Sydney Metro West project between the CBD and Westmead – including The Bays station as one of the eight priority precincts – will be a goer.

What’s being rezoned?

The first eight suburbs to be rezoned, to pave the way for more new and affordable homes, include the following locations (see map above):

Bankstown, The Bays, Bella Vista, Crows Nest, Homebush, Hornsby, Kellyville and Macquarie Park.

According to the leaked document, the NSW government will… “master plan and rezone the precincts by November 2024 to deliver up to 45,000 new and affordable homes (comprising a mandated 15%), within walking distance (1200m) of these key stations.”

Within a second tier of rezoning, a further 30 suburbs across NSW, where land will be rezoned around train stations, will allow for the development of more multi-storey housing.

While residents will be given the right to respond to new proposals, (once officially released) they include the following local and regional areas:

Industry response

At first glance, industry groups are miffed as to why parts of the inner west and eastern suburbs are not earmarked for increased density within leaked documents.

While Urban Taskforce CEO Tom Forrest has welcomed the announcement as a blessing in disguise, he’s concerned about the speed at which it’s being rolled and the notable exclusion of affluent seaside eastern and north shore suburbs.

“We are a little bemused that Edgecliff, Bondi Junction and Chatswood were not on the initial list of targeted stations,” Forrest said.

Property Council NSW executive director Katie Stevenson has also lambasted the government for failing to take advantage of locations with transport capacity, including those on the City, Southwest Metro and Northwest lines.

Meanwhile, other councils implicated within tier-two rezoning are also baffled as to why the government chose not to consult with them before now.

Plans to override local planning controls

Leaked documents follow on the heels of recently announced plans by the NSW government to veto local government planning rules in town centres, that have stonewalled duplexes and other medium-density buildings in “high value” areas close to buses and trains.

Within the NSW government’s recently announced plans are ‘bold reforms’ to create capacity for over 100,000 additional homes in the Greater Sydney region.

In short, development within R2 and R3 zones is expected to address the ‘missing middle’ of housing supply.

Proposed specific changes for R2 and R3 zoning include:

  • Dual occupancies (two separate homes on a single lot), such as duplexes, in all R2 low-density residential zones across all of NSW.
  • Terraces, town houses and two-storey apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centres in R2 low-density residential zones across the Greater Sydney region, Hunter, Central Coast and Illawarra.
  • Mid-rise apartment blocks near transport hubs and town centres in R3 medium-density zones and appropriate employment zones. This is expected to deliver more housing just a short ten-minute walk (800m) from transport hubs, shops and amenities.

While R3 areas at Manly on Sydney’s northern beaches are already largely developed within the three-to-six-storey height limit, the permissibility of ‘medium-rise’ six-storey apartment buildings is likely to see redevelopment of older ‘low-rise’ buildings within the former Warringah and Pittwater areas.