WE support the submission of the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations:
Willoughby City Council Housing Strategy
- Are 2016 Dwellings Estimates for Willoughby Accurate? The 2011 census showed Willoughby LGA as having 26,720 private dwellings, and the 2010 Sydney Metro Strategy and revised strategy in 2012 gave Willoughby LGA a 21 year target of close to 7,000 additional dwellings through infill development. It has been previously indicated that Willoughby LGA exceeded its 7,000 target within 6 years (ie by 2016).
Whilst we await the 2016 ABS Census figures on new dwellings, it is noted that page 9 of the strategy estimates that there are only approximately 28,000 dwellings in the LGA in 2016, only 1280 more than 2011. How can we have exceeded our targets for a 7,000 increase in dwellings in 6 years and yet only have increased total dwellings by only 1,280 residences since 2011? This discrepancy needs to be reconciled.
Whether the increase has been 7,000+ or only 1,280 additional dwellings to 2016, the impacts on local infrastructure of this increase has already been very significant. In addition, some of our road and transport infrastructure also bears the brunt of the increased population from the mandatory increases in dwellings in Northern Beaches, Upper North Shore and Central Coast LGAs as well.
- The Proposed Growth in residential dwellings is not sustainable: It is noted that an additional 6,450- 6750 dwellings being proposed between 2016-2036. Enough is enough. What is proposed is not sustainable development. The existing road, school, active recreation space and transport infrastructure are already at or well exceeding capacity, with no plans or ability to increase much of this infrastructure, and the capacity of other necessary services and infrastructure like sewers, electricity and gas has a limit.
Major road routes through the area are insufficient to cope. Eastern Valley way channels huge amounts of peak hour traffic into one lane each way on the Suspension Bridge at Northbridge, The Pacific Highway at Chatswood has been recognised as being very slow, and likewise for Penshurst St, Mowbray Rd and Fullers Road. The major route from the Northern Beaches through to Ryde and Parramatta is not direct (Boundary/Highway/Fullers Rd/Delhi Rd) and parts are also one lane local traffic roads. Likewise Chatswood traffic is often gridlocked at weekends. Some buses are already so full in peak hour by the time they get to Small St Willoughby and Naremburn they don’t pick anyone up at these stops. The capacity issues in our public schools continue to increase despite significant capital works funding in recent years.
- The proposed amount development is contrary to the stated design principles as it is of a magnitude that will ruin the heritage and environmental qualities of the area: One of the unpinning design principles of the Strategy is indicated to be to ‘Respect and promote the heritage and environmental qualities of WCC in planning for new housing’. Cutting into our existing heritage conservation areas, and also pulling down many buildings and trees and replacing them with medium rise and high rise is completely contrary to one of the stated design principles of this housing strategy.
- Heritage Conservation areas must be excluded from rezoning and development: It is noted that most of the areas that have been identified for investigation for development potential for medium and high density development on pages 23-29 include existing protected heritage conservation areas. These areas were developed with community consultation and were areas designed to protect and retain the valued neighbourhood attributes of our local community and village centres. The Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations is opposed to any existing heritage conservation areas being investigated or rezoned for the purposes of high rise or medium development.
How will putting significant development around these town centres meet the design principle of ’protect the valued neighbourhood attributes of our local community’?
- Proposed Growth is so excessive it will destroy the existing qualities of the Willoughby: It is stated in a strategy that there is a need to balance demand for residential development and retain valued neighbourhood attributes into the future.
Our community has already experienced significant development over the last 7 years, and whilst there is demand, Council should also be putting a limit on development to ensure it is sustainable. As indicated above, it is unlikely that another 6,500 or so increase in new dwellings will be sustainable, given the existing capacity issues of local roads, schools and playing fields and the destruction of trees and greenery. This amount of development will destroy the existing valued neighbourhood attributes in many parts of the LGA. Just because there is high demand does not mean we have to keep supplying.
- Unoccupied Dwellings and Demand from International Buyers: We note that the 2011 census figures indicated approximately 2,000 unoccupied dwellings in the Willoughby LGA area. Rather than additional significant development, it would be better to focus on strategies to reduce vacant dwellings in the area through strategies that have been successful in other jurisdictions like a vacancy tax and preventing international buyers contributing to the high demand, rather than squashing in more unsustainable development. Only a small number of other overseas countries allow overseas buyers.
- No Benefit in Council Setting High Targets for Growth and Meeting them Early: Willoughby Council was one of the first Councils in Sydney to meet its 21 year Sydney Metropolitan Strategy target to 2031 for additional dwellings, within 6 years, and has now exceeded this target. The Greater Sydney Commission is requiring Willoughby LGA to have 1,250 additional dwellings by 2021. By meeting our State set growth targets early our community is disadvantaged because a few years later additional limits are imposed.
President, Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations