Blue Mountains faces medium density housing push as new state government code comes into force

Residents could be blindsided by development by their neighbours, after the state government said the region will not be exempt from a planning code that fast-tracks development.

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said the Low Rise Medium Density Housing Code, rebranded last month as the Low Rise Housing Diversity Code, allows the density of dual occupancies and medium density housing (two storey units) to increase dramatically, in areas already zoned for this type of development.

"One of the many appalling things about this state government policy is that developments covered by their code can go ahead without neighbours being notified," Cr Greenhill said.

"To erode the rights of the community, complying development can be approved by private certifiers, with no requirement for submission of a development application to council or for a public notification process where residents can object. For contentious developments there is no longer oversight by an independent planning panel."

Calling the issue a "disaster", the mayor said it is an "awful outcome for the Mountains which can increase the number of people in locations, including bushfire areas [and] it will absolutely erode the village character of the Blue Mountains."

Council has opposed the code since it was first proposed in April 2018, but has been unable to achieve an exemption despite two years making "detailed submissions".

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Several councillors expressed concerns about the effect on quality of life at the council meeting on Tuesday night .

Liberal Cr Kevin Schreiber said "we will have DAs approved by private certifiers, once we open the gate, the horse bolts it is very hard to control". Cr Kerry Brown said the design control would be removed and it would "take very few years and the Mountains would be destroyed".

Labor Cr Don McGregor said it meant on "the current building blocks you can cram four two storey units on those blocks". His Labor colleague Mick Fell said that coupled with a 24 hour airport and highway 'upgrade' the area was now "under attack" by the state government.

Liberal Cr Daniel Myles added he was "revolted by this ...it's inconceivable a minister that the Mountains had such a good relationship with five years ago should now turn ... [and] the people of the Mountains are not to be left their quality of life."

However Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber (BMRBC) president and Springwood real estate agent Mark Barton said there was a need for medium density options for older residents.

"We need smaller housing accommodation around our town centres in places already designated by their current zonings. This is not about developers or changing existing planning policies; this is just common sense representing the needs of our communities, families and the aging population. We can unlock homes so the living cycle can continue for our local elders." [See Letters p24]

NSW planning minister Rob Stokes said the code came into effect on July 1 in every NSW council and there would be no delays.

State Member for Blue Mountains, Trish Doyle, is waiting on 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 has said.

Cr Greenhill said the code is at odds with the local Character and Place Guideline released by the State Government in February, 2019. Council voted unanimously to write to the minister to revoke the decision.