Mr RICHARDSON (The Hills) [6.0]: I wish to bring to the attention of honourable members the issue of dual occupancy, which is of considerable interest in The Hills electorate. I commend the Government for its initiative in encouraging urban consolidation. Sydney has a population of about 3.7 million in an area approximately 140 kilometres by 60 kilometres. Sydney is one of the largest cities in area but one of the least densely populated in the world. Apart from the cost of providing services to newly developed areas, there are natural boundaries to be considered: Port Hacking River and the Royal National Park to the south, the Blue Mountains to the west, and Broken Bay to the north. Sydney's urban sprawl cannot be allowed to continue unchecked. As the Minister for Planning and Minister for Housing put it in a brochure entitled "Housing Choice: Better Lifestyle":
It is, I gather, a bipartisan policy that is being honoured a little more in spirit than the bipartisan policy on the Olympic Games has been lately. Regulations covering dual occupancy, outlined in the document I have cited, include Sydney's Regional Environmental Plan No. 12 and State environmental planning policies Nos 25, 28 and 32. The idea is that the policy will encourage dual occupancy on existing blocks of land, and thereby reduce urban sprawl and provide a better range of housing mix in established areas. Not everyone wants to live in a detached house on a quarter-acre block - or two-hectare block, as occurs in Kenthurst and Dural in The Hills electorate. The proposal will not only consolidate housing but also provide a better housing mix for the population.
I commend two videos from the Department of Planning - "Housing for All" and "Housing in Harmony" to the House. It is unfortunate, however, that in some areas of the electorate that policy is being exploited by unscrupulous developers. The policy is supposed to be restricted to established areas, but what is tending to happen is that these dual occupancies are being built in new subdivisions. As a consequence, rather than encouraging urban consolidation and usage of existing facilities, greater strain is being placed on those facilities, creating traffic jams, sewerage problems and the like. Of course, if a developer can put two $250,000 villas on one site rather than one $340,000 home, he will make much more profit out of it.
I commend an initiative taken by Hornsby Council in developing a new draft local environment plan. I pay tribute also to the work done by the former member for The Hills, Tony Packard, in that regard. He acted as a liaison point between the council and the Minister for Planning. The policy, in essence, creates a higher density area around Hornsby town centre. Hornsby is an old suburb that has been established for about 100 years. Two railway lines, the main northern line and the North Shore line, join there. Creation of that high density area has enabled the minimum subdivision area to be increased from 300 square metres to 500 square metres in low density residential areas and up to 600 square metres in the Beecroft and Cheltenham areas of the Hornsby shire.
One multi-unit dwelling for each 350 square metres will be allowed in low density residential areas, and in the Beecroft and Cheltenham areas it is proposed to allow one multi-unit dwelling for each 400 square metres. There will be less site coverage
and more open space areas. A much more attractive planning environment can be created for residents of the shire. I commend the proposal to honourable members and to other councils. I wonder whether it might not be a good idea for the Government to publicise to other councils what Hornsby Council has done. I am sure they could benefit from following that strategy. We certainly put the idea to Baulkham Hills Council - the other council in The Hills electorate - and it is looking at coming up with a similar scheme.
Urban consolidation is a way of accommodating more people in established areas where good public transport, health care services, schools, roads, water, sewerage, and electricity are already in place.