Blue Mountains residents could be facing a wave of new medium density housing after the state government indicated it has no plans to exempt the area from a statewide planning code aimed at fast-tracking development.
Blue Mountains mayor Mark Greenhill and former Liberal mayor, Daniel Myles, have both warned the July 1 implementation of the code locally will increase risk in bushfire emergencies by putting more pressure on our roads.
But NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said there would be "no more deferrals, no more delays" in the rollout of the controversial 2018 Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code.
Blue Mountains City Council has twice asked for formal exemption from the code but was instead granted two deferrals since 2018, along with more than 40 other councils.
The code aims to fast-track approval for developments like dual occupancies and two-storey units in areas already zoned for this type of development.
Last month the government renamed the code the "Low Rise Housing Diversity Code".
Blue Mountains Labor mayor Mark Greenhill said the code allows the density of dual occupancies and medium density housing to "increase dramatically".
"The code removes the community voice from the process and delivers on the state government's agenda to increase development in Sydney. Applied in the context of the Blue Mountains, this could amount to overdevelopment across the whole region," he said.
"We have fought hard to keep such a proposition out of the Blue Mountains and have been seeking an exemption from the code for more than two years."
He said the code would "turn on the tap for more development and cram more people into our bushfire prone city and this is just madness".
"Such a move places people at risk and makes the work of our emergency services even harder and more complex."
The Gazette understands advice has been received that the code applies to bushfire prone land except for very specific exclusions, despite government suggestions it does not. Ward 3 Cr Daniel Myles said he was "appalled" by this.
"I am particularly shocked at the assumption this code does not apply to bushfire prone land," he said. "With one major road in and one major road out, all of the Blue Mountains is bushfire prone. This is madness."
But minister Stokes indicated he has run out of patience with Blue Mountains City Council.
"No more deferrals, no more delays; the code is coming into effect on July 1 in every council in NSW," he told the Gazette.
"Every community should have the opportunity to have their say on the future of their local area, which is why we've given so much time for councils to consult and engage.
"Councils have had more than two years to tailor the code to their local areas, and while many have lived up to the task, some have failed to do so for the communities they represent."
The mayor countered that council has supplied the government with all the information it has requested.
"The government is only focused on increasing housing supply, not the special characteristics of the Blue Mountains... It is clear that the government wants to turn us into 'just another suburb of Sydney'," he said.
Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle has said she will seek an urgent meeting with Mr Stokes on the issue.
"The idea that you cram more and more people into not only a world heritage environment, but one of the most bushfire prone places in the world, is just complete madness," she said.