Do Land Use Plans and willingness constrain solutions around housing shortage

What can Council do about the housing crisis? Lots actually but they need to want to do so. To understand what they currently have in place: Council adopted its Local Strategic Planning Statement in 2020. The Eurobodalla Local Strategic Planning Statement sets out a 20-year vision for land-use planning in the region and how it will be managed in future. It explains the basis for strategic planning with regards to economic, social and environment matters.

The Statement addresses a broad range of matters including:

  • placemaking

  • housing supply, diversity and affordability

  • employment and economic growth

  • environmental management

  • town and village character enhancement

  • infrastructure provision.

All NSW councils are required to have a Local Strategic Planning Statement in place in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The document was publicly exhibited for 28 days from 4 June to 2 July 2020 and adopted by Council on 25 August 2020.

Council say the Statement is to be reviewed every four years but they might like to reconsider that given their opening statement that:

Source: It is important to recognise that the Local Strategic Planning Statement is to be implemented by a range of land use planning actions, primarily through amendments to the LEP and changes to the DCPs. Given that the LEP is the vehicle that defines what can and can't be done on land by way of Zoning and other constraints it is surprising that the 2020 LSPS did not recommend that a comprehensive review of the LEP was warranted at this time. Council advise "Whilst it is always good practice to review LEPS every five years – due to the resourcing requirements it is rarely achieved. It is not uncommon however for LEPs to be reviewed and amended to respond to changes in strategic direction as they evolve. This occurred in 2019 with the Rural LEP being adopted by Council which had the effect of comprehensively changing LEP controls for rural lands." This means that the LEP can be changed, as can the Local Strategic Planning Statement. If the new councillors want to, or dare to, think outside of the box in finding solutions to our housing problem then it appears that they can.

Councillors might like to know that the already out of date Local Strategic Planning Statement prioritises key strategic actions some of which will rely upon amendments to the LEP for implementation. Planning Priority 1 of the LSPS sets out actions to deliver on more affordable and diverse housing options in our Shire. Action 1.1 specifically recognises the need for Council to develop an affordable housing strategy. In 2020 this was identified as a medium-term priority, Council is now reviewing its resourcing to commence this work within the next Financial Year. Councillors will need to be aware that the Eurobodalla Housing Strategy will need to align with the new South East and Tablelands Regional Plan which will set the NSW Government’s targets for delivery of social and affordable housing in our region. In developing a local housing strategy Council will need to consider our local demographics, the supply and demand for housing and local land use opportunities and constraints amongst other factors.

Action 1.3 – Investigate height controls, housing density and infill potential in town and activity centres. Due to developer interest and critical housing supply issues this action is currently being progressed with a focus on the Batemans Bay Town Centre. What does this mean? Basically it means that Council might allow a tower of units on the Batemans Bay Bowling Club site up to 30m in height.

It might also mean that they are reviewing the height controls along Beach Road and Clyde Street and maybe even investigating a housing tower on the Perry Street carpark site that would bring much needed economic stimulus to the CBD area.

Action 4.3 – Adopt the Narooma Flood Plain Risk Management Plan and Batemans Bay Urban creek Flood Study. These plans are being undertaken and may result in changes to LEP controls with respect to flood planning. Of interest is that both of these studies might identify homes as being flood prone that will devalue the properties and make them uninsurable.

Action 7.1 - Advocate to NSW government to fund the review of land use planning for Moruya and prepare a Master Plan in conjunction with Moruya Bypass and new regional hospital. Reading between the lines this heralds the intention to open up more farmland to suburbia.

Action 7.2 – Review the LEP to implement outcomes of Action 7.1 that capitalise on the opportunities from the bypass and regional hospital. LEP amendments are a likely outcome of the Moruya master planning process.

Action 12.1 - Review the LEP and DCPs to align with the 2011 Eurobodalla Employment Lands Strategy (Yes, 2011)

Council tells us that the Local Strategic Planning Statement is required to be reviewed in line with the next community Strategic Plan (2024) and at that time priorities will be revisited.

Council advises that the current planning framework in the Eurobodalla is not inherently restrictive of facilitating affordable housing. There is sufficient, appropriately zoned land in the LGA to accommodate the forecast growth up to 2036. However much of the land is unable to be made development ready or activated for several reasons. These reasons are not unique to the Eurobodalla and were clearly articulated in the Regional Housing Taskforce findings in relation to: • Barriers and difficulties in resolving site specific constraints and the depth of technical study required such as - biodiversity, bushfire, and flooding. • The funding and delivery of critical infrastructure such as water, sewer, and roads. The Taskforce found - as is the case in Eurobodalla - that a systematic reform of policies or planning approval processes are not warranted. Rather to support affordable and diverse housing outcomes, resources are required to address place-based barriers and to resolve complex issues within existing planning frameworks. Council states: "Work has commenced on the master planning of the Dalmeny Land Release Area. Council is working with the respective property owners and engaging with local community on the future design and staging of that development area. Social and affordable housing providers have also approached Council with respect to the ability to provide some more affordable forms of housing as part of that development. This is a matter to be facilitated between the Land and Housing Corporation, community housing providers and individual landholders, with Council support."