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Urban Issues


In the space of almost 50 years, Sutherland Shire has had to cope with nearly twice the rate of development of Sydney as a whole. High rise buildings and medium density development have dominated building efforts. While some people have benefited from this form of development, a large number of long-term residents have not. Traffic and parking congestion, rapidly multiplying units and high rise, and dual occupancies have all contributed to a sense of loss of a the spaciousness that identified the quality-of Shire-life. As well, a 400% increased in population in the Shire in the past 50 years has placed severe stresses on sewerage, transport and recreation infrastructures. Bushland is disappearing through urbanisation, overuse and undermanagement. Waterways have degraded through pollution and inappropriate foreshore development.

The Shire is in danger of losing much of the environment and ambience it counts as precious unless sustainable urban development is introduced in the planning regime and is rigorously implemented.

The Centre contributes at every opportunity to debates regarding urban planning. Members of the Centre participate in Sutherland Shire Council's working parties on urban development, and in strategic focus groups. The Centre monitors opportunities to make submissions on urban planning issues and has, over the years, participated in several inquiries on the topic. Importantly, the Centre provides advice to community members and to Precinct Groups on how to oppose urban development proposals or to work with developers to achieve sustainable outcomes.
  • Urban planning should not start with assumptions regarding population growth. Growth should be controlled to suit the aspirations of communities and to protect local ecologies.
  • No rezoning for higher densities should be commenced without the agreement of 80% of affected residents and property owners.
  • While variations to controls will occur, such variations should be by means which allow for maximum resident input.
  • Building heights should be limited in principle to prevailing tree canopy, in an effort to protect the leafy character of the Shire. This is particularly the case on escarpments where the canopy, rather than the built form, should always remain the dominant form.
  • As far as possible, vegetation should be left undisturbed during development. This is particularly the case for mature canopy trees. The balance in deciding the appropriateness of development should be tipped in favour of retaining tree canopy.
  • Native vegetation corridors should be safeguarded from development impacts.
  • Foreshore areas should be protected from urban development with permissive occupancy being rescinded as a condition of property redevelopment.
  • Urban development should not exceed the carrying capacity of the transport, sewerage and recreation infrastructure. In particular, plans and funding for managing increased loads on such infrastructure should be in place before urban development takes place rather than being left to times when crises become evident.


For additional information on development and population issues visit:

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