Councils zone out on new housing

Many Sydney councils are asleep at the wheel and are not providing for the housing a growing population needs according to new research released today by the Property Council of Australia.

Conducted by JBA, Zoned out: an analysis of residential rezoning in Metropolitan Sydney looks at residential housing development proposals across 16 local government areas in the central and south west regions of Sydney over the past four years.

The research illustrates the stark reality of a planning system that will struggle to meet Sydney’s future housing targets if councils continue to fail to up zone land to build the number of houses we need, 725,000 over the next 20 years according to the Greater Sydney Commission.

Across the Central and South West districts of Sydney, 64 per cent of residential Local Environment Plan (LEP) amendments, used to assign land for development, were led by private industry whereas only 29 per cent were led by councils.

The gap is greater when it comes to larger developments that will deliver more than 100 dwellings for the community – 81 per cent were developer led whereas only 15 per cent were council led.

Property Council NSW Executive Director Jane Fitzgerald said today that the research underlines the fact that there is a worrying lack of forward thinking at a local level when it comes to providing housing to a growing population and connecting it with infrastructure investment.

“In nine of the councils surveyed, developers led no less than 70 per cent of rezonings for all large residential developments,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“The Central District plan released on Monday by the Greater Sydney Commission estimates that the district will grow by 16,260 people every year to 2036 and has a target of 157,500 more houses by 2036. Without strategic leadership from councils the housing demand from this increase in population will not be met and affordability will worsen.

“The South West district will grow by a massive 18,650 people per year to 2036 and has a housing target of 143,000 houses, yet only 5 new large residential developments were led by councils in this area over the past four years. We have a long way to go to meet the targets.

“The strategic vision encapsulated in the District Plans is a positive contribution to Sydney’s future, but if we’re not seeing leadership from councils and the district plans do not translate to action– then it will all be for nothing.

“We need residential developments that provide housing for a greater number people – if not, prices will continue to rise, targets will slip and the dream of home ownership will be dashed for thousands of people.

“The districts we looked at have received millions of dollars dedicated to major infrastructure, yet we are not seeing councils leading zoning to provide for major residential development to locate houses and people within easy access to this infrastructure.

“Many councils have started discussion papers, master plans, project plans – but our research shows that even if a document has been finished, there is no evidence it has been implemented.

“New home construction is crucial to the state’s economic fortunes as it underpins growth, jobs and affordability, Zoned Out shows us that councils are not taking up the challenge of meeting the demands of a growing population and without better strategic planning, the community will suffer.”

Media contact:  William Power| M 0429 210 982 |   E [email protected]


Zoned out: an analysis of residential rezoning in Metropolitan Sydney

A snapshot

Central District

  • The Councils of Ashfield, Leichhardt and Marrickville have now merged to form the Inner West Council – this report uses data from the former LGAs.
  • Being part of the ‘Global Economic Corridor there is understandably a high concentration of key strategic moves affecting the District, including:
  • The Sydney Metro City & Southwest running from Cudgegong Road and Rouse Hill in the northwest to Bankstown via the CBD.
  • Key Bus Rapid Transit routes and Light Rail to and through the CBD.
  • WestConnex and the associated UrbanGrowth led Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Plan.
  • A total of 137 LEP amendments occurred in the Central District during the sample period of 2012 – 2016. Of these:
    • 76 were Council-led (56%)
    • 55 were private proponent led (40%).
    • 6 were led by the State Government.
  • However, of all residential focussed LEPs (62), the private sector led 38 of the LEPs (61%).
  • This disparity grows when considering those LEPs that are likely to yield greater than 100 dwellings, which indicates that of the 46 LEPs prepared, the private sector led 81% (37).

    South West District

  • The South West District contains the LGAs of Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly.
  • The District contains the South West Priority Land Release Area led by the former Growth Centres Commission. Subsequent Government-led land release in the District has been the recently released Glenfield to Macarthur Urban Renewal Corridor.
  • The District also contains significant employment generating infrastructure such as the Western Sydney Employment Area and Priority Growth Area centred on the future Western Sydney Airport.
  • A total of 132 LEP amendments occurred in the District over the 4 year sample period. Of these:
  • Council undertook a total of 49 (37%). The private sector drove 74 (56%) of all LEPs in the District.
  • A total of 75 (57%) were related to residential development, with 23 (17%) likely to create more than 100 dwellings. The private sector led 18 (78%) of all LEP amendments likely to produce greater than 100 dwellings. 


Zoned Out Report
(Adobe PDF File)