Mayor Mark Greenhill and planning chief meet with planning minister Rob Stokes seeking housing code exemption

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill remains hopeful that he can change the position of Planning Minister Rob Stokes to grant the area an exemption from the NSW government's medium density planning code.

Labor Cr Greenhill and council's planning director, Will Langevad, had a "productive and helpful discussion with the minister" last Thursday [July 30] which was organised by Blue Mountains Labor MP Trish Doyle.

Council Planning chief Will Langevad, Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle and Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill before the meeting with the Planning Minister last week.

Council Planning chief Will Langevad, Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle and Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill before the meeting with the Planning Minister last week.

The new NSW planning code commenced in every council on July 1. It allows multi-unit development and dual occupancies through private certifiers, without reference to council and with no opportunity for affected neighbours' objections to be assessed.

Cr Greenhill said he and the minister were "both committed to meeting housing diversity outcomes and the minister has noted our concerns with the code".

"What the council will do over coming weeks is show what measures we have in place to achieve diversity without the risk of overdevelopment," Cr Greenhill said.

"If we can show we meet diversity outcomes, the council hopes any instrument that results in Sydney-style development is not necessary."

Minister Stokes told the Gazette the "Low Rise Housing Diversity Code was introduced to ensure we have a diverse range of housing types and tenures for our growing and changing population".

"From the start we have said we will work with councils to get the best housing diversity outcomes for their local communities," adding that he had "enjoyed a positive meeting with Blue Mountains Council and agreed to work collaboratively on the best way to address the new for housing diversity in the Mountains. I look forward to seeing their proposal."

Cr Greenhill said Mr Langevad had "outlined the case for an alternative approach to the Minister. We were given a respectful hearing, but there is more work to do."

Council has been seeking an exemption from the code since 2018.

On July 27, the Blue Mountains Local Planning Panel - the state government's own independent planning panel - supported an exemption from the code.

The panel said the code has the potential to undermine the World-Heritage listing and did not "adequately respond to the unique environmental conditions ... particularly in relation to environmental impact or the management of stormwater on the 14 threatened and endangered communities identified in the World-Heritage listing". The panel also expressed concerns about bushfire risk.

Cr Greenhill said Water NSW had "also acknowledged our attempts to get an exemption and encouraged us to explore further measures to protect water quality in the Mountains".

Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle said the NSW government policy could lead to "inappropriate development".

"Our residents expect high quality and sensible planning outcomes that are consistent with living in a World-Heritage area."

Ms Doyle has also repeatedly expressed concerns about "the bushfire impact, because the code may fast-track development into areas that could be impacted by fire".

The planning minister has previously stated the code only applies where council have already zoned land for this type of development and does not apply to bushfire prone land.

The meeting was held at Sydney's Parliament House.