A cleanskin rises as the Nats change tack: There’s hope for NSW planning

Elizabeth Farrelly
Elizabeth Farrelly

Columnist, author, architecture critic and essayistJuly 6, 2019 — 12.10am

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Exposed wiring, damaged walls: Sydney apartment block abandoned

Exposed wiring, damaged walls: Sydney apartment block abandoned

Jodi McKay may not prove to be our Jacinda, much as we could use one in poor, dog-torn NSW. But having had the dubious honour of being dudded as minister not only by the then-Opposition but by her own colleagues, she’s the ALP’s closest thing to a cleanskin. More importantly, she may reverse the wealth-concentrating effects of neoliberal cronyism and send some much-needed vitality to the regions.

Last Saturday, the day after McKay was elected opposition leader, the National Party annual general meeting in Inverell declared its support for a “high-intensity container terminal” at Newcastle. Together, these two far-flung and causally unrelated events could constitute NSW’s most significant planning shift for decades.

Newly elected NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay.
Newly elected NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay.CREDIT:AAP

Planning? I see your eyebrows raise. Planning in NSW is never about plans. Plans-as-made don’t leave the paper they’re printed on. Planning here is always about where politicians send the dough. It’s about at what instant and in what semi-random direction, as they’re punched and pummelled in the political brawl, the huge dollops of dosh leave their fat little hands. Wham! Ooouf! Catch this!

There’s back-story here. In 2011, the dying days of the Keneally government, McKay was minister for Newcastle and the Hunter. Suddenly, weeks before the election, a huge anti-McKay smear campaign loomed from nowhere. Ten thousand leaflets flooded local streets, exhorting local residents to “Stop Jodi’s Trucks”.

Everyone knew what it meant: oppose government policy (dating from the Carr government in 2003) for Newcastle to be the home of our second container terminal on the site of the former steelworks. Back instead Nathan Tinkler’s bid (also supported by then treasurer Eric Roozendaal) to expand Newcastle’s coal capacity with a billion-dollar coal terminal on the Mayfield site. Vote Jodi out.

Trucks? You might think no one would believe a boofhead developer like Tinkler gave a damn about trucks clogging roads. But the electorate bought it. McKay lost office to Tim Owen – one of nine Liberal MPs subsequently found by the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s Operation Spicer to have accepted improper donations from developers.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, and Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, on Boyd Baling farm in Lismore, NSW.

‘Well that’s Barra’: Premier responds to Barilaro’s Coalition attack

Operation Spicer also revealed that Tinkler’s little helper in printing and distributing the leaflets was former ports minister Joe Tripodi, who also warranted Spicer’s only explicit corruption finding. Naturally Tripodi, like some schoolboy, blamed the printer.

That was bizarre, but in Newcastle’s container-port struggle it was just the start. When the O’Farrell-Baird government took office, it predicated its budget numbers on selling everything not nailed down – first poles-and-wires, then ports; Kembla, Botany and Newcastle.

In 2011, then treasurer Mike Baird told Parliament he expected $2.5 billion for Port Botany, the only port in NSW with dedicated container terminal facilities. In 2012, with Port Kembla added, the expected figure was mid-threes. But by April 2013, when the deal was executed, the two ports fetched an astounding $5.1billion.

What we didn’t know then, but know now, is why. Newcastle is the world’s largest coal export port, but even then coal was widely seen as a stranded asset. The bidders had not only baulked at buying the Port of Newcastle for that reason but had also extracted a government promise to hobble Newcastle as potential competitor for the next 50 years.

Illustration: Dionne Gain
Illustration: Dionne GainCREDIT:SMH

It worked via two secret contracts, or Port Commitment Deeds. The first, signed in April 2013 between the government and the new owners of ports Botany and Kembla, NSW Ports, commits the government to compensating NSW Ports $100 for every container (or equivalent) above a 30,000 limit handled by any future Newcastle container terminal. The second, signed roughly a year later between government and the Port of Newcastle’s new owners, commits those new owners to the same payment upon the same trigger.

A word of explanation. Thirty thousand is nothing. Standard containers are 20 feet long (although many are now much bigger) so ship or port capacity is measured in TEUs, or Twenty-foot Equivalent Units. A single new ultra-large container vessel, or ULCV, can carry up to 20,000 TEUs and a container-port at Newcastle could expect an annual throughput over a million TEUs. So limiting Newy to 30,000 before a punitive tariff kicks in essentially kills the port.

Further, the twin deed – obliging the Port of Newcastle to reimburse government for its Ports NSW payout – makes the whole thing cost-neutral to government, excepting, of course, the huge windfall gain for putting an effective monopoly in private hands.

This was deliberate and covert; conveyed neither to the Parliament (although it was government signing up for the payout) nor to the public, whose assets these supposedly were. We know only because of “confidential” documents leaked in 2016 to The Newcastle Herald.

Some say this is reasonable. Sydney is the biggest market for goods, so sending the 96 per cent of our enormous goods-trade that is ship-borne in that direction makes sense. But there are many counter-arguments, including the fact that produce from the Hunter, traditionally shipped in bulk but increasingly containerised, must now travel by congested rail and road to Port Botany.

This is expensive, illogical, short-sighted, hypocritical and, says the ACCC, illegal.

Expensive for freighters since (says a 2018 Deloittes report) road tolls alone, especially on WestConnex, will add $60 to $80 a truck, plus costs from delays and missed ships.

Illogical because, if a Newcastle container port were really so unviable, why even bother imposing an anti-competition clause? Unintelligent because Newcastle has the land and channel depth to accommodate the new, immense ULCVs (currently 45 per cent of new-build ships) whereas Botany, unless we move the airport, is strictly limited.

Hypocritical because, well, either you’re promoting competition or you’re not. To pretend competition while secretly imposing a monopoly strictly to maximise your own profits is at best ugly and at worst, treacherous, especially if it hobbles an entire region for half-a-century and exacerbates climate change.

As to illegal, this depends on the outcome of a case currently in the Federal Court where the ACCC seeks to ban Baird’s extra tariff as anti-competitive.

So thanks, neoliberalism, for signing us up to a 50-year commitment that is expensive, illogical, unintelligent, hypocritical and potentially illegal. Then again, Tinkler was bankrupted for 26 months until 2018 and McKay’s in line to be premier. With 63 per cent rank-and-file support, she may yet return the ALP to its roots and the Hunter to its rightful vibrancy.

Elizabeth Farrelly

Elizabeth Farrelly is a Sydney-based columnist and author who holds a PhD in architecture and several international writing awards. She is a former editor and Sydney City Councilor. Her books include ‘Glenn Murcutt: Three Houses’, ‘Blubberland; the dangers of happiness’ and ‘Caro Was Here’, crime fiction for children (2014).

SOURCE: https://www.smh.com.au/national/a-cleanskin-rises-as-the-nats-change-tack-there-s-hope-for-nsw-planning-20190704-p52427.html?fbclid=IwAR0qA38Tn21IedawGrXtoDLFJfjCV32HFPDdgWOW4wovuxFBhm09wuNldlo






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CAAN Photo: Chinese Real Estate Group Greenland, Lachlan’s Line, Macquarie Park at 5 July 2019; Ryde LGA

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CAAN Photo: Chinese developer JQZ, Prime Precinct, Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park; Ryde LGA

FROM about 2015 through to 2017 the Housing Supply was not able to meet the Foreign Demand … Was this due to Government Policies written by the Developer Lobby … ?

Who wrote the policy for the developer lobby, The Property Council of Australia before entering politics? Which Body now holds the reins of Australia?

WHY is high-rise expensive … despite the reality that storey upon storey the developer makes a motzer … able to cut costs with cladding and dumped materials at a cost around $215,000 per 2-bed unit?

AND sell for $$$$ how much more?



-according to the RBA research, zoning restrictions have limited the housing supply that prices increase significantly with rezoning because there is so much market demand.

Michael Buxton, emeritus professor of planning at RMIT:

-the highest prices from zoning occur from the inner city and suburbs; yet they have the least restrictive zoning controls

-one of the main reasons is the types of development – high-rise is very expensive; but profits are great


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CAAN Photo: ICON Towers Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park; Ryde LGA

Kate Shaw, urban geographer at the University of Melbourne:

-developers do not build affordable housing now

-they may build them cheaply and use cheap materials but the reduction in cost isn’t passed on to consumers


David Ross 
is a freelance journalist based in Melbourne.


The latest figures suggest that house prices are rising once more. According to Reserve Bank research, zoning restrictions contribute to high prices – but planning experts disagree. By David Ross.

House prices and zoning

There was a time when Australians saw the growth of house prices as inevitable. So it was a surprise when the rubber band snapped in late 2017.

House prices nationally are down 8.3 per cent in the past 12 months and 3.8 per cent for the year, feeding doomsaying about the health of Australia’s economy. In March, analysts announced the country was in a per-capita recession – that is, the economy is growing more slowly than the population.

But recent relaxations on lending rules from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, as well as rate cuts from the Reserve Bank of Australia, may be having their desired effect – if the desired effect is pushing up house prices.

Recent data from CoreLogic shows prices in Sydney have inched up by 0.1 per cent in June, in what some are calling the end of the drop and the beginning of something new. Clearance rates may be pointing the way, with almost two in three houses that go to auction selling.

And despite recent falls, median house values in Australia are still 412 per cent higher than in 1993.

Cameron Kusher, head of research at CoreLogic, told The Saturday Paper it was too early to say whether prices would continue to rise, but the trend showed price falls in Sydney and Melbourne may be over.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a rapid acceleration from here, but we can expect subtle growth,” he said.

He said efforts to keep prices steady, neither rising nor falling, would be ideal but very hard to manufacture.

But prices aren’t the whole story. How do they get so high? Why do they stay so high? Economists and urban planners don’t agree on the answers.

The RBA thinks part of the answer is zoning – the way land is used in our cities. According to research it published last year, zoning restrictions raised the price of a detached house in Sydney in 2016 by 73 per cent above the marginal cost of supply.


In theory, when a site is rezoned for housing, the increased supply should reduce competition and therefore limit the impetus to push up house prices.

*But according to the RBA research, zoning restrictions have limited the housing supply to such an extent that prices increase significantly with rezoning because there is so much market demand.

RBA economists Ross Kendall and Peter Tulip found land was not necessarily scarce. Rather, the ways land can be used in our cities make it – and, as a result, housing – very expensive.

“This ‘marginal’ or ‘physical’ value of land represents the opportunity cost of extra land, as judged by what people are prepared to pay for it,” wrote Kendall and Tulip in their report.

“This difference represents what home owners need to pay for the right to have a dwelling at that location, or the cost of ‘administrative’ scarcity.”

Dr Stephen Kirchner, program director of trade and investment at the University of Sydney’s United States Study Centre, said he supported the findings of the RBA research. He rejected the argument that access to finance or rising construction costs were responsible for driving up house prices.

“It was not the deregulation of the financial system – yes, it facilitates people borrowing, but if you had a flexible supply side this would not be an issue,” said Kirchner.

“Why did car prices not go up as a result of the deregulation of the financial system? Is the reason that the supply side of the car market is not restricted in the way the housing market is?

“So you have to ask why land is so expensive. It’s because of the restrictions on what you can do with it.”

*But Michael Buxton, emeritus professor of planning at RMIT University, told The Saturday Paper the RBA research showed an “abysmal misunderstanding of the way the planning system works and zoning operates”. He said it wasn’t zoning that mattered, but rather where the land is.

“The RBA talk about zoning – it shows the highest prices from zoning occur from the inner city and suburbs, yet the [central business district] and inner-ring suburbs, particularly the CBD, have the least restrictive zoning controls,” said Buxton.

“It’s not zoning. It’s a complex combination between housing markets and construction types. One of the main reasons is the types of development – high-rise is very expensive.”

Buxton said his research had shown there was plenty of supply in the inner and middle suburbs of our cities that could cater for Australia’s growing population. He said what matters is gross density across the city, rather than density by block.

“You can’t build an entire city with areas of the density of the scale that they’re doing [in the CBD],” he said.

*“Governments have handed over the decision to the development industry and they want to cram as much as they can on their urban block.”

*According to Buxton, governments need to set a plan and stay the course – four to six storeys maximum, with 50 per cent site coverage – to get liveable cities and suburbs for the future. But, he said, developers and governments are in cahoots as profits from high-rise development are too great.

*“They’re very costly and very profitable; there’s a whole range of participants in the high-rise boom that are making money,” he said.

*Brendan Coates, household finances program director at the Grattan Institute, told The Saturday Paper he agreed with the RBA findings, saying they showed the supply of housing, despite huge additions over recent years, has been unable to meet the rising demands of population growth. House prices have therefore increased dramatically.

“The one weakness of the RBA research is that it doesn’t flow through to the zoning premium. If housing is overvalued then the zoning premium will be overestimated,” said Coates.

“The premium has become much larger over the last 15 years and that’s precisely the period where demand for housing has increased.”

Although the RBA seldom speaks publicly about its research, Peter Tulip has defended his and Kendall’s findings in a lengthy response to criticisms.

“If these criticisms were robust, they would be publishable,” wrote Tulip.

“It is the interaction of inelastic supply, due to zoning, and rising demand that explains the rise in house prices. This explains why, despite interest rates being very low across all advanced economies, sharp increases in house prices have been concentrated in localities with more restrictive zoning.”

But planners The Saturday Paper spoke to do not agree with the RBA or economists about the alleged role of zoning in pushing up prices.

Coates said the density of the inner and middle rings of Australian cities has hardly shifted in three decades, with most new building taking place in or right next to the CBD. He said the issue of zoning has grown in part because Sydney and Melbourne are now so big that commuting times make living near the CBD all the more important.

“Density has barely moved. That didn’t matter as much three decades ago because the urban fringe wasn’t that far from the city,” said Coates.

“[The] zoning premium 15 years ago was basically zero. That was because it didn’t matter as much that you couldn’t build in the middle rings because you could build 20 to 25 k’s from the city and it wasn’t that hard to get to the city.”

CoreLogic’s Cameron Kusher said the lack of supply in wealthy areas has had a striking effect.

“Look at the escalation in prices in areas [where] you haven’t seen a lot of upzoning,” he said.

“The councils there don’t allow higher-density zones. Look at what it costs for an [apartment]; that’s because people are paying such a fortune for the land.”

Brendan Coates agreed it was clear, based on the data, that approvals took longer in wealthier areas of Australia, reflecting the political will in many areas to oppose development. But he said densification often had its downsides for these people, such as more traffic, less green space or greater pressure put on public services.

“The problem here is that local councils reflect the interests of people who live there, not people who want to live there,” he said.

Kate Shaw, urban geographer at the University of Melbourne, disagrees with the RBA findings. She told The Saturday Paper Australia had relatively relaxed planning rules compared with the rest of the world.

“If you look at the inner cities of any OECD country you’ll find most are much more static than Australian cities and that’s largely because of heritage controls,” said Shaw.

“Any planning regime, by definition, is about regulating the market, controlling what can be built where and to what extent.”

In Shaw’s opinion, Australia undoubtedly needs more housing but we don’t need more high-end apartments.

*“Developers do not build affordable housing now. They may build them cheaply and use cheap materials but the reduction in cost isn’t passed on to consumers,” she said.

“As soon as prices have the slightest indication of tanking, developers stop building, the economy starts to tank, the RBA drops rates, homeowners are assisted to start buying and the whole thing turns around.”

House prices are high and now look set to grow again, for good or for bad. The extent to which zoning controls contribute to this is something no one can agree on.

But if housing demand continues to grow, as seems likely, then existing zoning restrictions will bind more tightly and place continuing upward pressure on housing prices. 

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jul 6, 2019 as “Exclusion zoning”. Subscribe here.

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CAAN Photo: Herring Road Precinct, Macquarie Park, April 2019; Ryde LGA









NSW Environment Planner, Dana Alderson said: 

“Development consent cannot be granted to proposals which impact on serious and irreversible impact entities”  …

the remnant Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest within the footprint of the proposed development.


“It is noted that large parts of the site, including areas that are proposed to be cleared, do not appear to have been surveyed for threatened flora.” 

ForestinDanger spokeswoman Jan Primrose said: 

“We do not believe that Mirvac should be granted any further extension of time to the Gateway Determination beyond the July 31 deadline, given Mirvac’s apparent continuing failure to properly consider preservation of the Blue Gum High Forest on the site”.




NSW Environment Office objects to Mirvac IBM site development proposal


The NSW Environment Office has issued a scathing objection to the planning proposal to build hundreds of homes at a business Park in Sydney’s north west, which is surrounded by endangered forests.

Objection letters ready to be submitted to Hills Shire Council by the Forest in Danger group in Baulkham Hills. Picture: Angelo Velardo
Objection letters ready to be submitted to Hills Shire Council by the Forest in Danger group in Baulkham Hills. Picture: Angelo Velardo


Plans to transform the IBM Business Park at West Pennant Hills into hundreds of homes as part of a new community by Mirvac may need to go back to the drawing board, following a NSW Government objection to the development.


On June 14, the NSW Environment and Heritage Office submitted a series of objections relating to the planning proposal at 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills, highlighting serious concern around the impact the development would have on remnant Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest within the footprint of the proposal development.

An artist impression of the development at 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills.


The submission highlights an upcoming preliminary determination to list the Sydney Turpentine-Ironbark Forest as critically endangered, alongside the Blue Gum High Forest, as they both “meet the principles and criteria for serious and irreversible impact”.

*“Development consent cannot be granted to proposals which impact on serious and irreversible impact entities,” NSW Environment planner Dana Alderson said.

Under the plans for 600 homes at the site, dozens of trees within the business park would be removed, while other remnant forest clusters would be rezoned as E2 environmental conservation.

Community groups are calling on residents to take a stand against the “inappropriate development” of the former IBM site in West Pennant Hills, adjoining the Cumberland State Forest. Picture: Ryan Osland


However, the office raised concerns about the methods used to identified threatened species in the development footprint.

“The biodiversity assessment lists threatened flora species recorded from the area and their likelihood of occurrence on the site,” Ms Alderson said.

“The biodiversity assessment states that ‘targeted random meanders’ were carried out on site, it is assumed that this method was used to survey for threatened flora species.

*“It is noted that large parts of the site, including areas that are proposed to be cleared, do not appear to have been surveyed for threatened flora.”

An overview of the proposal.


Ms Alderson said it was unclear if threatened species may be impacted by the proposal and also raised concerns about the impact the proposal would have on the parliament of powerful owls that calls the forests home.

Mirvac development director Adrian Checchin said, “maintaining the unique ecological characteristics of the site at Coonara has always been a key priority, which is why we have sought the highest protection environmental conservation zoning”.

“We will continue to work closely with our ecologists in accordance with relevant legislation, to ensure the ecological communities are protected,” he said.

“It is important to note that there is a clear footprint already established by former development on the site, and under current controls, the whole site is zoned business park to a height of 22 metres.”

The Advisory director for the National Trust, Graham Quint has also objected to development at the IBM SITE in West Pennant Hills. Picture: Justin Sanson


Mr Checchin said Mirvac’s proposal provides “far greater protection to remnant forest areas” than the existing controls.

“We acknowledge the letter received by the Office of Environment and Heritage as normal practice during the statutory referral process,” he said.

  • said “we do not believe that the planning proposal can be approved in its current format”.

Significant redesign would be required and therefore the Draft DCP, the Planning Proposal and the Voluntary Planning Agreement would need to be re-exhibited,” she said.

“We do not believe that Mirvac should be granted any further extension of time to the Gateway Determination beyond the July 31 deadline, given Mirvac’s apparent continuing failure to properly consider preservation of the Blue Gum High Forest on the site”.



SOURCE:  https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/hills-shire-times/nsw-environment-office-rejects-mirvac-ibm-site-development-proposal/news-story/b3c040e990bfa454a6885cf8d8a8a31c?fbclid=IwAR3rqJM6NUiBpCfRHKr5hiSQ6_ZrXMRwa7KZfJKfetnkr7orMhGe4Hs0yds






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CAAN Photo:  June 2019 large lot cleared; the changes to zoning would have shocked the neighbours who have invested much in their properties!



BUT what more does the ‘Development Approval’ sign tell you?

IS this why it’s hard to find ‘that Sydney Sweet Spot’?

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CAAN Photo


A large lot … did it formerly accommodate a home and a market garden?

It would seem unfortunate for its neighbours to now endure a construction project for the next 12 months or so to house many more neighbours than they could have possibly anticipated.

The site area is said to be 3060 M2 with an approved gross floor area of 1692 M2 for 10 Townhouses/Villas of 1 and 2 storeys.



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CAAN Photo:  Substantial and valuable homes stand to the right of this redevelopment site.


A google search revealed the details of the CBRE agents and the following descriptions, it would seem, indicate where the market target for this project will be!

Danny Shi writes that he joined CBRE as a specialist agent, being fluent in both English and Mandarin I have a strong focus in attracting the attention of many HIGH NET-WORTH CHINESE INVESTORS AND DEVELOPERS …

Tao Shi writes he joined CBRE as a Foreign Capital Investment Manager of Residential Development based in the North Sydney office. That he is responsible for site sales of both residential and mixed use development sites throughout Sydney. That he holds a Masters of Architecture and speaks both English and Mandarin fluently

Victor Sheu writes he has been involved in the property market for years, and joined CBRE IN 2015. He has had working experience in SHANGHAI and sees himself as a conduit between ASIAN INVESTORS and the Western Sydney investment market.

Fluent in both English and Mandarin, and consistently introduces local opportunities to HIGH NET-WORTH FOREIGN INVESTORS AND DEVELOPERS

How likely is it that this development will be marketed to Australian seniors downsizing or families?  But for the High Net-Worth Chinese market perhaps?

MEANWHILE … despite China’s Capital Controls … house prices in Sydney are beginning to rise again, and following the Scomo Election win with the LNP policies of the 100% sell off to overseas buyers particularly the High Net-Worth from China, and no Anti-Money Laundering Rules for the Real Estate Gatekeepers … having been made EXEMPT from the Second Tranche of the AML Legislation in October 2018 …. it’s ‘FULL SPEED AHEAD’ for RE Agents!

THE OVERSEAS SELL-OFF is making it even more difficult for our families to find that ‘sweet spot’ in their own Town!


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CAAN Photo:  Artist’s depiction of the townhouses










45 Boundary Rd, Box Hill, NSW 2765



CAAN has been notified of a Real Estate firm advertising home and land packages with lots as tiny as 300M2 and slight variations (305M2, 309m2) in Sydney’s NorthWest … nearby to ROUSE HILL

DESPITE the ‘clearing’ …  RE Agents advertise the site as located in the beautiful surrounds … with the ambience of rural living …

Could such developments be contributing to our habitat loss? Cough … cough …

Are such home and land packages for aspiring Aussie First Home Buyers … when it appears they are locked out by:

-low wages
-insecure contract work


MEANWHILE the Fed policies remain allowing developers and realtors to sell ‘new homes’ 100% overseas (FIRB Ruling and May 2017 Budget Reg)

AND foreign buyers can launder ‘black money’ through the Real Estate Gatekeepers!

BECAUSE this sector was made EXEMPT from Anti-Money Laundering Rules in October 2018 …


FURTHER … the NSW Govt introduced the ‘Greenfield Housing Code’ for lots as tiny as 200M2 X 6M wide in 2018!  SEARCH Caan’s Website to find out more about this Code!



The Nature Conservation Council alerted us on Thursday, 27 June 2019:


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‘Today, a scathing new report has revealed that masses of wildlife habitat are being bulldozed across NSW with virtually no oversight, accountability or enforcement of nature protection.

We are in the midst of an extinction crisis and the NSW Government is allowing unchecked mass destruction of our precious forests and bushland.

The NSW Auditor-General has found that since Premier Berejiklian relaxed land-clearing laws in November 2017:

  • Bushland the size of the Australian Capital Territory has been approved for bulldozing.
    • There were about 1,000 instances of ‘unexplained’ land clearing.
    • The government has been slow to respond to reports of illegal clearing.
    • Landholders who clear illegally are rarely held to account.’


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Photo:  Nature NSW


VIEW this link to donate to help end deforestation in NSW!



SCROLL DOWN CAAN Facebook and Website daily to find out more!  WHY not keep a copy of these links with your records!








WHAT cannot be ignored … the overdevelopment of high-rise Precincts in Herring Road, Waterloo Road, Epping Road, Lane Cove Road &  everywhere in between and beyond … as locals say where will all the cars go?

WILL the neighbouring Fujitsu commercial building on Talavera Road be put at risk like those in Mascot?

Macquarie Park was a Business and IT Park providing jobs for locals

… but jobs are being lost for more  residential development and ever more shops for foreign buyers … the LNP Policies remain … despite crumbling towers across Sydney …

NOTE Ryde Mayor Jerome Laxale’s response to Liberal Clr Lane (highlighted)



State Government approves first stage of controversial Meriton towers development

Ryde Council took a strong stand against it, but a state planning panel has brushed aside local concerns to approve the first stage of a $67m high-rise Meriton development at Macquarie Park.

Residential apartments in the first-stage Meriton towers development at 112 Talavera Rd, Macquarie Park.
Residential apartments in the first-stage Meriton towers development at 112 Talavera Rd, Macquarie Park.


The State Government has given approval today to the $67 million first stage of Meriton’s controversial four-tower development at Macquarie Park.


Despite fierce opposition from local residents, a 27-storey building at 112 Talavera Rd was given the nod in a 3-2 vote by the Sydney North Planning Panel.

The two dissenters were Ryde Labor councillors Bernard Purcell and Edwina Clifton.

They took a stand against the development application by the property giant after council unanimously voted to oppose the plan last December.

The 27-storey ‘Destination’ building will accommodate 212 residential apartments, retail, a childcare centre and multistorey car park with 251 spaces.

How the 27-storey Meriton tower will look in Talavera Rd.


Cr Purcell said the panel’s local representatives were “ridden roughshod over” at today’s hearing.

“This decision is outrageous and goes against the strong opposition of local residents,” he said.

“Council received about 400 submissions opposing this development, yet this wasn’t taken into account.

“The 27-storey tower is within the planning guidelines — but that’s our beef: the guidelines are completely wrong to allow this inappropriate development.

“There are major concerns about how traffic will cope with all the extra residents in the area.”

Stage 2 is set to include three 42-storey towers, down from 63 storeys after amendments late last year.

Cr Bernard Purcell.
Cr Edwina Clifton.


Cr Purcell hit out at Mr Dominello and Liberal councillor Jordan Lane for not attending the hearing today to speak against the Meriton DA, after both were strongly opposed to it ahead of the State Election in March.

“They got the political mileage back then and were nowhere to be seen today,” Cr Purcell said.

Mr Dominello said his opposition to the development had been “clear” since 2017.

“I have rallied thousands of locals to sign petitions and write submissions in opposition to the 63-storey proposal,” the Customer Service Minister said.

Ryde State MP Victor Dominello at the site of the proposed Meriton development on Talavera Rd late last year. He was taking a strong stand against the DA on the basis it was not an appropriate development for the area. Picture: John Appleyard



“Council voted to support the 27-storey proposal in November 2017 as it is in line with their LEP (Local Environment Plan).

“Meriton is currently suing the State Government in relation to its 63-storey proposal because the government put a freeze on this type of development.

“Council has received $2.5 million from the State Government to conduct a review of their planning laws. I will absolutely support council if they put forward a reduction in the housing targets and density following a review of council’s planning laws.

“Council must expedite the review of its planning laws.”


Meriton managing director Harry Triguboff says the first-stage approval is a “very good result” for the property giant, but it was soured by Cr Purcell and Cr Clifton’s “backflip”.

“These two councillors voted to support our 63-story proposal in December 2017 before the political games started, then they voted to keep the current rules in December last year, but now they say they don’t want those either. If you’re confused, then so am I,” Mr Triguboff said.

“Their vote went against the advice of council’s planning experts who acknowledged that the community opposition to the DA didn’t necessarily relate to this development and any relevant issues had been satisfactorily addressed.

*“In fact, not a single community representative attended to speak against the proposal at today’s meeting.”

CAAN:  Community representatives have been ignored since 2011 as have community submissions.

Harry Triguboff says his company’s towers development will only benefit the Macquarie Park community.


He said the DA was “fully compliant” and “addressed all technical and community issues as confirmed by the planning experts”.

“It is in the best location next to trains, jobs, universities, hospitals, schools and open space so it should have been approved,” Mr Triguboff said.

“It is time that the councillors stop the games and listen to the planning experts.”

Meriton says it will contribute $78 million in community benefits as part of the 112 Talavera Rd development.


Liberal councillor Jordan Lane joined Mr Dominello in blaming Ryde Council’s planning rules for allowing the Meriton development to be approved.

“Stage 1 of ‘Laxale Towers’ represents everything that is wrong with our broken planning laws,” Cr Lane said.

“That such an eyesore is legal under council’s LEP shows just how out of step the rules are with community expectations.

“I’ve been fighting for these laws to be changed since my election to council (in 2017), and opposed three separate times by the Labor/Greens alliance.”

Opposition: Cr Lane standing out the front of 112 Talavera Rd, Macquarie Park last year.
Building demolition works at 112-119 Talavera Road, Macquarie Park, in April.


*Ryde Labor Mayor Jerome Laxale said Cr Lane was either “deliberately misleading the community or has no idea about the history of planning law in Macquarie Park”.

*“Current planning law, which enabled this development, was forcibly changed by the Liberal State Government in 2014 through the Herring Road Priority Precinct,” Cr Laxale said.

“Council and the community opposed massive rezonings and increases in height, yet Victor Dominello and the Liberal State Government changed our local laws anyway.

“The last time council had control of planning in Macquarie Park, this site on Talavera Road had a maximum height of approximately 10 storeys. The Liberals changed it to 27 which is what they again approved today.

“Plus, if the State Government was so concerned about overdevelopment in Ryde, why didn’t they refuse the application today? They say one thing, and do another.”


As the political argy-bargy plays out, presales of apartments at the ‘Destination’ development have “exceeded all our expectations”, Meriton’s head of sales, James Sialepis, says.

“Savvy investors, local downsizers and first-time buyers have picked up on the site’s unique location right next to the recently opened Sydney Metro, Macquarie Shopping Centre, Macquarie University and hospital,” Mr Sialepis said today.

“Destination will complement one of Australia’s most significant economic centres which currently accommodates over 58,000 jobs and this is growing rapidly.”

He said that Stage 1 of the Talavera Rd development was scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2021.

“At a time when the construction of residential accommodation across NSW is slowing, Meriton has a proven track record of completion ahead of schedule,” Mr Sialepis said.



SOURCE:  https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/northern-district-times/meriton-towers-plan-for-112-talavera-rd-macquarie-park-gets-firststage-approval/news-story/e3fc7ba1bb18e83dc100c439a628f73a?fbclid=IwAR1IcC54ACArideTp5t9o9j9sa0HICtbQO1Cm0TyNCurenb3CfcpvznYwrg






HAVE you noticed in your local area … though it is not yet July but planning applications are already in to demolish and construct e.g. a Medium Density dual occupancy?

Sutherland, Hornsby and Ryde Councils are seeking a permanent exemption (due to overdevelopment).

Ryde made a bid for the Code to be ruled unlawful … sadly it was dismissed by the developers L & E Court

Read more:  https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/2019/05/08/11130/


It is so obvious with developers having control of NSW that it is all about higher density largely for the overseas market … the Federal Laws are in place to accommodate this market … amazingly Sydney is running out of land …

‘Planning Minister Rob Stokes flags medium density housing code review’ by Prof. Ryan; it is reported the code would be in application by end 2019. That ‘certain types of med. density housing’ would be classified as ‘complying development’ …

Read more:




Apartments, townhouses and terraces will soon outnumber stand-alone homes in Sydney.

SMH Photo:  Apartments, townhouses and terraces will soon outnumber stand-alone homes in Sydney.CREDIT:PETER RAE



NSW Planning Minister: Let’s bulldoze Sydney suburbs into high-rise


By Leith van Onselen


New South Wales Planning Minister Rob Stokes says he hopes to ensure that all local councils in the state adopt the ‘missing middle’ scheme by the end of 2019.

The scheme aims to speed up approvals for higher density developments in suburban developments.

Stokes has told the Urban Development Institute of Australia NSW annual luncheon that he is very keen to cater for the ‘missing middle’, and that there needs to be a greater variety of housing provided for within the residential sector. From The AFR:

“I am very passionate about providing for the missing middle … there is a large gap between historical housing supply and what the community wants…

Mr Stokes’ vision is in line with the federal housing minister’s Michael Sukkar’s plan to work better with councils to reduce red tape and to come up with smarter density for more homes…

Let’s remember that Sydney is Australia’s immigration capital, with 77,100 net overseas migrants arriving in 2017-18 alone:

Immigration is also projected to drive all of Sydney’s 4.5 million population increase over the next half century:

Stokes’ plan for greater density is really about stuffing people into high-rise apartments, as projected by the Urban Taskforce:

Basically, Sydney is facing a dystopian future whereby only the wealthiest residents will be able to afford a detached house with a backyard, whereas the poorest residents will be forced to rent high-rise apartments.

Is this the future that we want to bestow on future generations?

Cut immigration.




SOURCE:  https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2019/06/nsw-government-bulldoze-sydney-suburbs-into-high-rise/







On planning and a new minister’s hopes for better

David Rolls, Lendlease; Jane Fitzgerald, Property Council of Australia; Rob Stokes, NSW planning minister


News from the front desk issue 440: Rob Stokes, the recently reappointed planning minister for NSW, is to be admired, but also a tad feared for.

The admiration has obvious roots. The man is clearly intelligent, evidenced by several high level academic qualifications, not least a PhD in planning law. He seems humane and also pretty fearless, taking on Federal colleagues in defence of clean energy and sustainability, so he has fans on both sides of the fence. And when he last held the portfolio, in 2015 Stokes proved himself better than most of his forebears in the role at understanding the issues.

Therein lies the first problem alert: understanding how planning works is not always a good thing in the NSW property industry. In fact, the less the premier and planning minister know the better, in some views. All the easier to get them to roll your way under a cloak of expert opinions and copious reports generated by deep industry.

The other problem alert is the nature of politics.

In his first major address two weeks ago in his current iteration as planning minister (V2), Stokes quipped he wanted to move fast because you never know how much time you had. (His sudden removal from the post in a reshuffle last time no doubt still fresh.)

Before him was an audience of about 700 people at a Property Council lunch in Sydney. It was the heartland of his portfolio. A premium opportunity to lay out his vision and aspiration for his portfolio.

That’s the third warning alert.

Politics is always volatile, but when it’s combined with development and planning, it can be positively incendiary. Think about the challenges.

Increasingly clear is that it’s where many of society’s ills and opportunities are hatched. The federal election showed the deep fissures that divide the nation today are more than ever geographic.

The divisions mean your location could morph from a place to live and raise your family into an important determinant of economic and social outcomes.

The tensions are showing up with the “missing middle” program that proposes denser middle ring suburbs, that’s attracted accusations of class bias in how density is allocated, judging by the Spinifex opinion piece this week from Philip Bull (rebutted by Chris Johnson of the Urban Taskforce).

There’s hyper sensitivity to anything that challenges the existing perceived amenity. And to fan the flames we have cowboys like Harry Triguboff who has once again flagged that we should build on parkland because Sydney has so many parks.

So many other issues that merit just as much attention in our headlines: technology and innovation come to mind, just for a start. But they don’t stand a chance against the emotions raised when developers plonk down an ugly block of apartments next to your house or the WestConnext slams through your cherished urban fabric.

We are stuck with a massive spotlight on property.

So back to Rob Stokes: this is the challenge he’s got.

At the Property Council lunch Stokes did not waste a minute.

Behind him is a much-expanded portfolio with environment, energy and a host of previously disparate agencies that inherently offer the potential to create co-ordination and synergies, bureaucracy and NSW famed government silos notwithstanding.

The tone was that of a leader hoping to set an agenda for better. A hope that the industry could recast the narrative of growth as bad into something that would embrace the community. That it could be more sustainable. A win-win for all.

Planning, he said, was the way we as a society decide the future we want. And we can certainly do better than in the past.

He spoke impressively, as we’ve seen before. And as before, no notes but loads of details, references, data, modulations and good flow.

The thing that’s a little troubling, he said, was that that society’s narrative around growth has become obscured, that it’s a bad thing.

Whether we’re talking about immigration or development or agglomeration in the energy industry “growth is always talked about as if it’s necessarily or fundamentally evil.”

“It doesn’t take long to debunk this.”

The reality is growth is inevitable and change is inexorable and change is a logical extension of both of these processes, he said.

Noting that change can also be malignant – involve decomposition and decay as well “it can divide communities” he said.

“Nevertheless there is something inevitable about it.”

Sydney could cope with so much more growth, he said. It had around 610 people per square kilometre compared with Paris with more than 6000 per sq km.

Even after sustained growth Sydney would be very sparsely populated city by international standards.

(Try telling Sydneysiders that the jammed in high rises they’ve seen so much of during this boom will somehow make their city more like Paris.)

Stokes’ solution is to “collectively build a compelling case for the benefits of growth and we need to do so in the face of a community that is mistrustful and antagonistic and even openly hostile toward development.”

We should take heart from the community’s passion because they care, he added.

They want better streets, beautiful design, better architecture and better transport. To inspire people who are already passionate about such things do we talk about productivity and liveability? he asked.

Maybe not. Maybe liveability is read as “survivability”, “developments that don’t kill you”, he said.

Maybe our standards and vision should be set a little higher. We can do even better than liveability, we can do delight, beauty, we can do inspiration.”

Sustainability is more problematic because few of us know what that means, he said. “I know there is an abiding commitment to sustainable outcomes,” he said, but I’d argue we could try harder. We know we have the power of restoration.”

If we’re going to make the case for the benefits of growth he said the argument has to be more compelling.

And that doesn’t mean we need to trade environmental benefits with economic benefits. Both can be possible, he said.

Productivity was another issue. And fairness and equity key

We know we are being more productive but we also need to be making sure the benefits of that increased wealth and productivity and prosperity is shared across the fabric of our city.”

For instance if people in the west have fewer opportunities than people closer to the centre then this “strikes at the heart of our social contract.”

On equity in housing Stokes slid out of dealing directly with the issue and it’s such a shame. He said the government could act as a guiding hand, not much more, or perhaps as an exemplar. The thinking these days is that it needs to get more directly involved. Housing that’s affordable simply will probably never be delivered by the market and sooner or later that will become a crisis that will need much stronger intervention.

To bring consensus around the benefits of growth, though there is much safer ground. Stokes could talk about the need to do great quality developments.

We need to change the culture, he said, to stop the image of the “supposedly avaricious developers against the supposedly blinkered communities.”

Which means that “as long as everyone’s a little bit unhappy it’s considered a good outcome.”

 “That’s a recipe for mediocrity”.

Quoting notable planner John Mant, Stokes said some of the best examples of successful neighbourhoods were not planned and some of the most disastrous were precisely planned.

“Planning is the process through which society makes decisions about its future. It affects those around us and is it’s only reasonable to that the community wants to be invested and it’s no surprise they get angry when things happen that they didn’t expect.”

His idea is to make people feel invested in the outcome and if we can’t do this will not be able to make a compelling case for growth.”

All good talk and inspiring, and of course we loved to hear about sustainability taking its place alongside other outcomes in the built environment.

There’s no doubt Stokes is genuine and there is no doubt the leaders in the industry get the imperatives to do better.

The sceptical notes riffing through the chat after the event showed it’s going to be a hard slog to bring the bulk of the industry on Stokes’ journey; it’s a long way from the day to day imperatives that developers seek, especially now that the boom has soured.

But it’s like the change agents say, you need a vision before you can create a blue print and you need a blue print before you can have action.

And to be truthful even the mention of those objectives will hopefully stick, a bit. At best, perhaps only as irritations. Like the #MeToo movement once you’ve heard the other view, you can’t unhear it. You may still choose to be a bully – or a bad developer – but you’ve heard another view and you know what your industry leader thinks and you know the best of your crowd will look down on poor behaviour. At least in theory. And at least, politically speaking.

Yet one day you may raise your standards.

It happens.




On planning and a new minister’s hopes for better



AT CAAN we have a little insight into what happened back in 2012 … despite the RYDE Community inviting community groups across Sydney to unite to oppose OVERDEVELOPMENT, the NSW Government Planning Law Changes for higher density, and the loss of community rights …

INSTEAD SYDNEY has been beset with OVERDEVELOPMENT,  and as much as 85 per cent of the development is defective on completion!

… since then RYDE has been unfairly beset with High-rise Precincts at North Ryde, Macquarie Park, Top Ryde, Meadowbank … and anywhere in between in the LGA!

OH, what a shame that not only Ryde but other LGAs have been overdeveloped when SYDNEY could have united for ‘good planning’ to accommodate natural growth, and not be subject to a PONZI SCHEME!

 READ MORE:  https://caanhousinginequalitywithaussieslockedout.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/alleged-limited-high-rise-can-halt-sprawl-and-preserve-our-suburbs-character/?fbclid=IwAR32JC-S-9YDAnj5MzYpHqlPVNb1XIMkuRIEFLig30_wAYnFKqj55RL0PQc

WAS this POOR OUTCOME for Sydney due to self-interest?

TRUE … not many of us like such rapid change … where we no longer have any say due to our suburbs being rezoned from low-rise low density to higher density

-where development is ‘exempt and complying’ eliminating the D.A.!

These NSW Planning Law Changes have been facilitated by Federal Government Policies allowing:

developers to sell housing projects 100% to foreign buyers (FIRB ruling change; May 2018 Budget Reg.)

-the Real Estate Sector exempted from Anti-Money Laundering Rules October 2018 (second tranche AML Legislation shelved for more than 12 years)

IT appears with the population undergoing a rapid change with people from elsewhere other than Western European traditions that …

-our tastes and fashions are changing constantly

It’s all a bit of a mix. What is clear the system has been changed because up until about 2010 in most parts of Australia we had the LEP established as the backbone setting offering a set of standards and guidelines for what happens:

-in addition to this we had Standards covering a host of other issues e.g. setbacks, side separations, minimal open space and plot ratio requirements, heights, parking, materials, all sorts of indices and references

WHAT has happened is these standards and criteria have largely been set aside and a new regime put in place that:

-is about a new set of minimums, minimal standards, minimal regulations, minimal compliance requirements and so on … topped off by an enforcement process that is even more minimal in its demands on all aspects of the built environment

-it is about empowering the individuals doing the building beyond the reach of government and neighbours 

-it is about watering down the influence of past practices; that have no longer a role to play because those now amongst us do not see their relevance, it’s not what they have done in the past

Are we going to see more and more of our built environment altered and/or changed to reflect the contemporary appreciations of people who do not relate to what they find here?

Are we seeing here a shallow understanding about the suburbs … that is self-serving and opaque?

In saying what they have, it is apparent:

-little of this push for more medium density will occur in those expensive eastern sectors of Sydney

-such ideas do have the potential to change the identity and amenity of many remaining suburbs that have survived the march of both high-rise and medium density developments in all their manifestations




Lack of density in posh Sydney – it’s a thing


There is an abundance of self interest in the collaboration between the Save Our Suburbs crowd and developer lobby The Urban Task Force – in furious agreement to stop medium density in middle ring leafy suburbs. But why? And is it fair?

SPINIFEX: The recent SMH article Limited high-rise can halt sprawl and preserve our suburbs on 7 May 2019 was presented as a refreshing “strange bedfellow” piece.

Chief executive of the Urban Taskforce Chris Johnson agreed with the president of a peak community group Save Our Suburbs (Sydney’s chief NIMBY) Tony Resci. What they both oppose is medium density housing in middle ring suburbs and that the status quo was the best solution for Sydney.

What they are in glorious agreement about is that the state government’s new Low-Rise Medium Density Housing Code (known colloquially as the “missing middle” project by its sponsor planning minister Rob Stokes) is not a solution to Sydney housing problems.

This is a policy that allows limited development of two-storey dual occupancy, terraces and small residential flat buildings through certification – this means no need for a lengthy and contested development application (DA), the development can be approved in a few weeks by a certifier.

Ominously, the policy is due for general release this July. No need for the big DAs that the Urban Task Force’s members make and the small infill ones that the Save Our Suburbs crowd so successfully oppose.


VIEW SOURCE LINK to read the full text:

SOURCE:  https://www.thefifthestate.com.au/urbanism/planning/posh-sydney-says-no-to-density-its-a-thing/







WHY is the North Shore Uniting with Developer Lobby Urban Taskforce to champion high-rise?

IS it because they see more opportunities?

BEGS the question what happened to the Ryde community campaign (25 April 2012) to Unite Sydney to oppose OVERDEVELOPMENT, the NSW Planning Law Changes for higher density, and the loss of community rights?

WHERE were the rallies?

OR, was all the energy put into lobbying and briefings with Planning Bureaucrats?

IS that why the growth of Sydney forged ahead?

WERE the policies of the Federal and NSW Governments that are contrary to Australian community-wide interests ever raised?

-the 100% FIRB ruling ‘new home’ sell-off overseas

-the World-wide market competition for Australian domestic housing

-hence the supply could not meet the foreign demand

.a current slow-down due to China’s capital controls

-the suspicious exemption of the Real Estate Gatekeepers from Anti-Money Laundering Rules in October 2018

.AML rules (second tranche) shelved for more than 12 years

.the onshore Proxy laundered ‘black money’ now awash in Australian real estate

P.S. How much $ are high-rise developers flinging to Urban Taskforce?



Limited high-rise can halt sprawl and preserve our suburbs’ character


It is unusual for the leader of a community action group concerned about overdevelopment and the head of a developer lobby championing high-rise apartments to agree on a planning approach for Sydney’s growth.

But, amazingly, the two of us, one the president of community group Save Our Suburbs and the other the chief executive of the Urban Taskforce, do agree on how Sydney can grow without destroying the suburbs.

We are both often at Department of Planning briefings where bureaucrats assume we are on opposite sides of policy discussions but the “missing middle” code proposed by the state government a year ago has brought us together, at least in policy terms.

Medium density terrace houses on Thorton Estate Penrith.
Medium density terrace houses on Thorton Estate Penrith.CREDIT:KATE GERAGHTY

We are concerned about the potential for new medium-density housing to spread through the suburbs in a manner that will destroy the suburban character of houses with distinctive architecture surrounded by flowers, trees and other foliage, and have a negative impact across much of Sydney.

Many councils are fighting the medium-density code, their main concern being that residents do not want widespread change to the character of their suburbs.

The government has allowed 50 councils to postpone the adoption of the code, but that period of grace expires in just over three weeks, on July 1. That deadline will become a flashpoint. Councils need more time, but will they get the extension they are requesting?


Miller Street in North Sydney. the site for a high-rise development above the metro station.
Miller Street in North Sydney. the site for a high-rise development above the metro station. CREDIT:LOUISE KENNERLEY


We believe that carefully planned high-rise housing in limited locations in town centres and around railway stations is a better option than widespread medium density to accommodate part of Sydney’s growth. This type of housing in apartments has become a preferred way of living for demographic groups who want a more urban lifestyle and to use public transport, including metro rail, to get to work.

Importantly, the NSW government must continue its rollout of turn-up-and-go metro rail lines that connect town centres across Sydney.

But more housing must be encouraged on the fringes of Sydney and along corridors outside Greater Sydney. A very fast train connection between Sydney and Canberra would open up peripheral housing development options along its route, particularly around the Southern Highlands at Bowral and around Goulburn. In a similar manner, a very fast train along the east coast connecting Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle would open up even more desirable peripheral housing options.

We are concerned the NSW government seems to prefer a medium-density approach of low-rise but bulky, multi-dwelling housing inserted extensively into existing suburbs. From a development perspective the feasibility of these housing types is dubious and from a local character perspective the intrusions of bulky buildings with increased density of parking will destroy the suburbs that Sydneysiders so love.

From a macro planning perspective it seems preferable to limit the change of local character to small areas in town centres and around railway stations with high-rise buildings rather than spread changes across much of suburban Sydney.

Another area we agree on is that planning policies for land use on the periphery are far too restrictive and manipulate the market. In a number of large, prosperous American cities such as  Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth there are no restrictive land use policies. We understand that developers can propose developments of the housing types people want in suitable locations, often on the periphery, and create neighbourhoods with amenities that attract buyers. The result is that housing cost is about a third of that in Sydney and journey-to-work times and congestion levels are far lower.

One of us wants to protect the suburbs of Sydney and accepts peripheral development and high-rise in limited locations in town centres and around railway stations. The other champions the swing to a more co-operative lifestyle in high-rise or medium-rise apartments where amenities and transport options are shared but with easy access.

What we are both very concerned about is the widespread proliferation of medium-density, low-rise dwellings across the suburbs that will generate more car congestion and will forever change the local character of our detached house suburbs.

Tony Recsei is the president of Save Our Suburbs and Chris Johnson is the chief executive of the Urban Taskforce.