The Hills Shire Mayor, Peter Gangemi, has condemned the scrapping of a cap on the number of dwellings at the LGA’s new Hills Showground Precinct, saying the NSW Government decision shows “absolute disdain” for local residents.
Dr Gangemi says in its dealings with the NSW Government, the Council was told the number of homes in the Hills Showground would be restricted to 5,000 until a new school site had been identified and funded.
“Now the Minns government has discarded that, paving the way for almost double the number of homes without the schools so desperately needed by families within The Hills,” the Mayor said.
“This shows that the Minns government is prepared to ride roughshod over the Hills community and cram in as many homes as possible without securing the required infrastructure.”
State Member for Castle Hill and Hills Shire Councillor, Mark Hodges said public schools were “bursting at the seams” in The Hills Shire.
“Our population is booming, and our classrooms are full, yet we have no commitment from the NSW Government to upgrade our established schools or build more schools across the wider Hills community,” Cr Hodges said.
“The recent funding announcement for schools by the Minns government did not include any new school funding within The Hills, despite the Department of Education raising the need for a school to be located in a priority precinct, such as the Showground.
“By 2036, we will have more than 90,000 new residents living across The Hills; of that number, 20,000 will call the Showground Precinct home. This community has every right to feel concerned about what the Minns government is inflicting on our Shire.”
The NSW Government rezoned the Showground Precinct for medium-to-high-density development in 2017 as part of its Planned Precinct Program along the Sydney Metro Northwest.
In a statement on Monday, Minister Scully said applications and approvals for development were already approaching the limit.
By amending the Hills Local Environment Plan (LEP), a further 4,500 potential new homes can be built on the original number of developments that were locked in at the time of rezoning.
“The precinct will provide around 9,000 new homes over the next 20 years, harnessing the benefits of the $20 billion Sydney Metro,” Mr Scully said.
“Residents will also have access to more open space at Chapman Avenue Reserve and improved access to Cattai Creek,” he said in a statement.
The decision to scrap the cap follows a series of moves by the Minns government towards facilitating overdevelopment in The Hills without appropriate increases in infrastructure, said Mayor Gangemi.
Before the state election, the NSW Planning Minister, Paul Scully, identified the Cherrybrook Precinct as “ripe” for additional development, despite the Place Strategy limiting the precinct to 3,200 new homes in buildings of three to five storeys, he said.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment also wrote to Council, confirming that changes may be made to the Cherrybrook Precinct.
In June, the State Government unveiled an initiative allowing developers to increase the height and density of their projects by an extra 30% over local controls if they allocate at least 15% of their development to affordable housing for 15 years.
Mayor Gangemi said The Hills Shire was already suffering the impacts of the NSW Government’s decisions.
“A planning proposal for a spot rezoning on Seven Hills Road was progressed to Gateway Determination by the Sydney Central City Planning Panel in July, overruling Council’s decision not to proceed.”
“This decision seemed inconsistent with a previous proposal, also located in Baulkham Hills Town Centre, but was rejected by this panel just before the state election.
“I believe the family-friendly character of The Hills is under assault due to the collective changes imposed by the Minns government,” he said.