The Wingecarribee 2040 Local Strategic Planning Statement sets out a 20-year land-use vision for the Shire encompassing planning priorities in six areas – Environment, Rural Lands, Economy, Housing, Infrastructure and Places.
In Places, Precinct Plans are presented for each towns and village in the Shire, including for Berrima, that define the development limits within town and village boundaries.
The Berrima Precinct Plan is reproduced below.
Council also adopted on 24 June 2020, the Wingecarribee Local Housing Strategy that provides a long-term planning framework to meet the housing needs of the Shire over the next 20 years.
The Berrima Residents Association made detailed submissions on 7 May 2020 to the Council on both the exhibited drafts of Local Strategic Planning Statement, including on the provisions of the Precinct Plan for Berrima, and on the Wingecarribee Local Housing Strategy. Both of these submissions are set out below in full.
The Wingecarribee Local Housing Strategy and Local Strategic Planning Statement are available on the Council’s website at the following link:
Berrima Village Precinct Plan
For Berrima, the village “area” is located entirely north of the Wingecarribee River toward Apple Street to the north and Quarry Street to the east.
The boundary of New Berrima is separately defined around the existing street pattern in that village. Having two separate village precincts – Berrima and New Berrima – preserves the ‘Green Space’ between the two villages.
The Association’s Submission to Council on the Local Strategic Planning Statement (7 May 2020)
(BRA Comments on the Exhibition Draft)
” We would first like to commend the planners on their excellent work. The level of detail and its sensitive treatment is a testament to the skills of our strategic planners.
Our comments on the particular wording of the Local Strategic Planning Statement are as follows.
From the perspective of the community of Berrima, our first concern is to amend the character statement for Berrima on page 74.
Heading “Precinct Plan: Berrima”
The National Trust was requested by Council last year to review its 1977 Heritage Landscape Study for Berrima. In response, the National Trust wrote to Council on 13 February 2020 endorsing the BRA submission to Council on the Local Strategic Planning Statement. Attached is the letter from the BRA to Council on this, dated 30 January 2020, with its attached submission. Also attached is the letter to Council from the National Trust dated 13 February 2020.
The essence of these letters is that it is not just the view corridors that need to be protected by the highest standards of development. Rather, it is the landscape as a whole that must be protected from the creation of new dwelling and other development rights.
In light of this, we request that the character statement for Berrima be amended to include the following:
[Proposed Local Strategic Plan Statement for Berrima]
“Berrima is an early Colonial village, designed to be a major urban centre, namely, the County Capital of Camden. It’s rich collection of early colonial buildings and major civic buildings, such as the Gaol and Courthouse, add to a sense of being a very special place in the State of New South Wales and Australia. It has an intact pre-industrial town layout of large half acre lots with sufficient space for a stable, cow shed, vegetable garden, and orchard, with the dwellings at the front on the street to make this space available. After the railway by-passed Berrima in the 1860s, the village became frozen in time and remains a small sparsely populated rural village. It is the undeveloped nature of the village and its rural surrounds that gives rise to its very high cultural significance (i.e. heritage significance). It is unique in Australia as a government planned Colonial Georgian town still functioning as a small vibrant village surrounded by a rural/bushland landscape.
“The community of Berrima places a great deal of value on its character of a sparsely populated heritage village surrounded by a sparsely populated and undeveloped rural/bushland landscape. Our community values this character, not the mere façade of such a village and landscape.
“This means that the protections in the development controls need to be strengthened for the conservation of the rural surrounds as a whole, so that it is not just the views (façade) from the main roads or from within the village that are conserved. A façade of an undeveloped village and undeveloped rural surrounds would merely create a superficial image for tourism and is not aligned with our community’s understanding and appreciation of its real character.
“The Berrima Landscape Conservation Area (BLCA) should reflect what our community values as its rural curtilage. Since the 1977 National Trust heritage study, on which the planning controls are based, the geographic definition of the curtilage of the village has changed with the construction of the freeway. This creates a new boundary within which the village and its rural surroundings sit, and the BLCA should be expanded to reflect this, as well as to protect against further expansion into the rural surrounds to the North of the village.
“To conserve the undeveloped character of the village also means that the development controls need to be strengthened and clarified to ensure that the commercial zone continues to reflect a village character, rather than the character of a town, and does not encroach on the amenity of, or views to and from, the residential zone.“
Heading “Planning Priority 4.1”
Rewrite as “Promote infill development and increased densities in appropriate locations, being urban infill in the 3 major towns, together with the release of dwelling lots in approved greenfield sites as the need arises. Facilitate a greater mix of housing types to ensure our housing stock is reflective of the needs of our community.”
New penultimate paragraph (prior to sentence commencing “Council is committed …”): “The small rural villages shall not be subject to infill through the creation of new dwelling rights, but shall be conserved as small rural villages with undeveloped rural surrounds.”
Third dot point, amend “Provide a 50/50 split of infill and greenfield development to meet out housing needs” to read “Provide a mix of infill and greenfield to meet the target for new housing needed in any given year based on the Wingecarribee housing monitor”
Change the order of dot points so that the dot point regarding “Develop and maintain a Wingecarribee housing monitor to track and measure housing supply and diversity” is placed before, rather than after, the dot point regarding the mix of infill to greenfield.
Last dot point, delete “and villages”. This is to ensure that the character of the small rural villages is protected (see above, “Rationale” new penultimate paragraph on page 44).
Heading “Planning Priority 4.2”
This section recognizes the importance of affordable rental housing, as well as housing for sale. Low cost and small-scale rental housing can be provided through “Secondary Dwellings” (LEP 2010 Clause 5.4: minimum 60 square metres or 33% of the floor area of the principal dwelling).
The construction of Secondary Dwellings has a greater chance of ensuring that they will continue to be available for rent, as the lot on which they are situated with the principal dwelling cannot be subdivided and sold off. This is particularly advantageous to the local community in some of the small tourist villages, such as Berrima, Exeter and Burrawang, where restaurants are located and the tourist trade can be encouraged with overnight lodgings within walking distance of restaurants. It also provides a supplemental income for the landowners, thereby raising and widening the Shire’s income base. In the main towns and non-tourist villages it increases the stock of small affordable rental housing.
To implement this, add a new dot point under the Heading “Actions”:
“Encourage the construction of Secondary Dwellings to the rear of the principal dwellings on large lots in the towns and villages, to provide affordable housing or to facilitate tourism”
Heading “Planning Priority 4.3”
Amend the final sentence in the second column to read: “The LHS sets a target of a 50/50 split between infill and greenfield development, provided the monitoring and target for the supply of new housing for any one year does not require an adjustment in the ratio to meet the target for that year. The LHS identifies enough supply for a 30+ year period based on the current population forecasts.”
Amend dot point 2 to read: “Promote sustainability and energy efficiency through the appropriate location, orientation and design of new living areas”
Amend dot point 4 to read: “Develop a land and housing monitor that tracks the supply of greenfield and infill development and supply, to allow targets to be set for any given year, with the ratio of infill to greenfield to be adjusted to meet the overall target for that given year”
Add a new sentence to the first paragraph (after “/… growing communities.”): “To plan for significant recreational infrastructure in the form of parks and reserves, as a source of well being for the community and as an attraction to visitors, in and around the 3 main towns.”
Heading “Key Enabling infrastructure Projects”
Add a new dot point after the third dot point in the second column on page 52 (i.e. after dot point “Water Treatment Plant Upgrade Wingecarribee Water Treatment Plant …/”):
“Brickworks Park Lake and Bridge Project in Bowral (short to medium term)”.
Attached is a concept plan for the Project. This would need to be funded by the State Government. It will adaptively use the kiln buildings for cultural and conference facilities, with the 20 hectare park providing a venue for exercise and major tourist attractions, such as Tulip Time. It will be within walking distance of the railway station and the centre of Bowral. The lake will provide a major recreational and tourist attraction. Most importantly, it will be a centrally located major water reserve for firefighting as our climate continues to warm. The bridge would provide better access from Bowral to the freeway, the Enterprise Corridor and Berrima. It will avoid the bottleneck and dangerous crossing at the Bowral Railway Station for traffic from Berrima and the freeway. The bridge component, therefore, has benefits for traffic management regardless of the controversy over the Station Street and Bowral Bypass project.
Wingecarribee Local Housing Strategy 2040
The Local Housing Strategy expects the Shire population “to increase from 48,998 in 2016 to some 51,495 people in 2014, based on the Dept. of Planning, Industry and Environment’s medium growth scenario, representing an increase of approximately 2,500 people. Under the high growth scenario, the population would increase to over 56,000 people by 2041, an increase of 7,000.”
The medium growth scenario represents a population an average annual increase of 0.2%; the high growth represents a 0.5% annual increase.
The Strategy identifies three key planning priorities for housing the Shire, including:
- Promote infill development and increased densities
- Provide a greater mix of price points in the market
- Provide for six well planned new release areas to meet long -term housing needs
The six new release areas are estimated to have capacity for an additional 3,150 dwellings, which would be staged over the next 30 years. The six areas are:
- Chelsea Garden Coomungie (south of Moss Vale)
- Bowral South
- Moss Vale West
- Robertson North East (status subsequently downgraded to ‘potential’)
- Mittagong East
- Colo Vale (Wensleydale)
The Association’s Submission to Council on the Local Housing Strategy (7 May 2020)
(BRA Comments on the Exhibition Draft)
1. ” We commend Council’s planners on the proposal to monitor and set targets for new dwellings. In doing so, it recognizes the need to control population growth in the Shire.
2. The figures cited in the Housing Strategy for expected demand are clearly not in line with what has actually happened. The strategy adopts the position of the Regional Strategy that population growth is expected to be 4,050 people between 2015 and 2035, requiring an additional 3,300 dwellings in that period.
3. In reality, the Shire has experienced a 7.9% increase in population over the last 5 years alone, almost the entire increase of 8.5% estimated by the Department of Planning Infrastructure and Environment (DPIE) over the 20-year period of the Local Planning Strategy.
4. To understand why the population growth has been much higher than anticipated by the DPIE, there needs to be a recognition that the Highlands housing market is part of the wider Sydney housing market. Accordingly, pricing is largely determined by Sydney prices (Sydney supply and demand), not by local supply and demand. The potential demand from Sydney (at Sydney prices) is effectively limitless because of the size of the Sydney market (of which we are part). A better way of expressing the “estimated demand potential” referred to by the DPIE in the Regional Planning Strategy is to talk of “estimated demand to be met”. This effectively means the extent to which supply will be allowed to meet demand.
5. Accordingly, to arrive at a desired rate of population increase, the changes in the number of dwellings (and therefore population) needs to be determined by Council controlling the rate of release of supply. Any attempt to meet the actual potential demand will result in a population explosion.
6. The high level of supply (and therefore population growth) in the past decade has been the result of the changes of zoning in LEP 2010 together with the approved Planning Proposals for further changes in zoning since 2010. The increase in new dwellings and population has, therefore, been supply driven. The population increase could have been even higher if the supply had been made available. It could have been exponential if supply was released to meet all the potential demand. The DPIE estimates of demand should perhaps be regarded as DPIE’s estimate of their desired increase. This would explain why their concern to change Council’s strategy has consistently been with the mix of dwellings, not the quantity.
7. Over-population leading to overdevelopment is a threat to habitats, quality of life, water catchments and to the rural character of the land. This is especially so in this Shire given the high value placed by our community on the rural character of the Shire, and the fact that 95% of the Shire is in a water catchment area.
8. Whilst this can be controlled to some extent by Council if the Strategy clearly sets out a target for new dwellings in any given year, in practice it is difficult. This is because Council, by law, cannot deny the right of a landowner to submit a DA for an existing dwelling right. As a result, if the DA is compliant then not approving the DA is risky, because of the Applicant’s right of appeal to the L&E Court. This compares to the refusal of a Planning Proposal for the creation of new dwelling rights, because the Applicant has no right of appeal if refused. Similarly, Council has more control over dwelling sites through the release of greenfield sites. Accordingly, flexibility in meeting annual targets rests first with greenfield sites (to meet DPIE expectations) and secondly with approval of Planning Proposals (to make up for any shortfall in a target for any given year).
9. The Strategy promotes and prioritizes supply through a fixed ratio of infill to greenfield, regardless of the possibility of a lower need for additional dwellings if greenfield sites are released. Using a fixed ratio of 50/50 infill to greenfield development is likely to lead to any targets being exceeded, thereby undermining the intention of the Strategy to control population increase. The fixed infill/greenfield ratio should not, therefore, be followed blindly. Rather, the overall target for any given year should be the determining factor.
10. Of particular concern to our Association, is to ensure that the Strategy recognizes that “infill” refers to urban infill, not rural. DPIE has acknowledged to our Association that this is their interpretation of the term “infill”. The Strategy needs to expressly adopt the DPIE interpretation. In the body of the Strategy this is implied by the passages identifying the areas for infill, which do not include the small rural villages or their surrounds.
Underlying Assumptions of Council’s Planning Strategies
11. The Draft Housing Strategy cannot be read in isolation from the remainder of the Local Planning Strategy (LPS). Chapter 3, Managing Our Rural Land, page 59, states:
“The Shire can be identified as a peri-urban area. Peri-urban areas are largely defined as the areas that surround our metropolitan cities – neither urban nor rural in the conventional sense. Peri-urban areas are often contested spaces, largely regarded as being in transition. They are areas with a wide range of uses. They may form water catchments or provide large areas of land for forestry. They offer valuable farmland and they also provide a valuable resource for recreation and tourism.
12. This is a false assumption.
“Peri-urban” has been defined to mean:
“denoting or located in an area immediately adjacent to a city or urban area. [emphasis added]”
“It can be described as the landscape interface between town and country, or also as the rural—urban transition zone where urban and rural uses mix and often clash.”
13. The Shire is not immediately adjacent to Sydney, and the vast majority of the area of the Shire is rural and much is protected water catchment. It is not in a transition state between rural and urban, and nor should it be if the community’s values are properly recognised. By classifying the Shire as a whole as peri-urban when it is not, is of great concern. It indicates a vision that is at odds with the community’s desire to retain the Shire’s rural character. The Shire has some areas on the perimeter of the 3 main towns that meet this description, but the villages are largely surrounded by undeveloped rural, not semi-rural land. In the last few years, however, Council has allowed and encouraged this rural land to become semi-rural, with rural “infill”. It is creating peri-urban rings around the villages, which detract from the rural character of the villages. “Character” is now an important element of town planning. It is important, therefore, that Council’s vision of a peri-urban Shire be abandoned.
14. Set out below are the Berrima Residents Association comments on particular aspects of the Strategy.
Chapter 1 Introduction
15. The third aim listed on page 3 is to
“Ensure population growth is managed in a manner which endorses and promotes community values”
16. It is clear from the 2008/9 and 2014 consultations that informed the drafting of LEP 2010 and the Local Planning Strategy 2015-2035, that retaining the rural character of the Shire is a widely held community value. Population control by monitoring and the controlled release of new dwelling rights is a necessary element of the Strategy if this is to be achieved. We welcome Council’s strategy of monitoring to ensure that the release of new dwelling rights is within defined parameters. It is the detail, however, that also needs to be addressed.
17 The Shire is better placed than any other to restrict population growth and unnecessary housing development. This is because almost the entire Shire is located in one or other water catchment areas, which ultimately provide water security for Greater Sydney. The need for protection of the water catchment areas from development has been recognised recently with the State’s new Aquifer Protection Policy. This, along with other water protection policies, substantially strengthens the Shire’s case for resisting developer pressure.
Chapter 2 Our Drivers of Change
Our Southern Highlands Context
18. Paragraph 5 on page 4 of the Strategy states:
“Wingecarribee Shire is predominantly rural in character with agricultural land separating our towns and villages characterised by unique landscape and aesthetic appeal.” (cf. to the description of the Shire in Chapter 3 Managing Our Rural Lands as “peri-urban”).
The Association supports this description of the Shire in preference to the one discussed above in paragraphs 11 to 13 in relation to Chapter 3 of the Local Planning Strategy.
19. Page 7, paragraph 7 (commencing “Our three main towns …/”), delete “semi-rural” and replace with “rural” before “landscape” in the last sentence.
20. We support the statement in the second sentence of paragraph 8 on page 7, (‘ensure development is in keeping …/”), but would like to add a new sentence:
“Extensive community consultation in 2009 and 2014 clearly showed a strong community desire to retain the rural character of our Shire..”
21. On page 8, at the end of the third paragraph (“Current development pressures …”), we would like to add a new sentence:
“Despite these external pressures, Council will resist pressure from developers and landowners for increased land release outside the greenfield areas designated in this strategy or by rezoning or use of Schedule 1 for “infill” development, if the annual target for new dwelling rights has been met.”
On page 9, first paragraph, we would like to add a new second sentence:
“Council recognises that this anticipated 8.5% increase through to 2036 will be exceeded by the current land releases either approved and in the pipeline or identified in this Strategy, making any increase in “infill” development not just redundant to needs, but counterproductive and a threat to the rural character of our towns and villages.”
On page 9, second paragraph, we would like to add a third sentence:
“These forecast rates of population increase have been dramatically exceeded in the last 5 years, with an annual increase of a little over 1.4%, totalling 7.9%, again reinforcing the need to strongly resist landowner pressure for rezoning or Schedule 1 infill.”
22. On page 10, second paragraph, we would like the word “Alarmingly” deleted. The tone of this paragraph is to see an aging population as a negative factor. In fact, it is not a problem but an opportunity, leading to increased demands for services. This is a massive employment opportunity for the services industry. Unlike industrial development, the service industry is non-polluting, does not disfigure the rural character of the Shire, and provides alternative accommodation for retirees from Sydney to move to the Highlands and free up housing in Sydney.
23. On page 13, first paragraph (commencing “The Wingecarribee Shire housing stock …/”), we would like to add a new paragraph:
“In the context of the villages, the large lot sizes and sparse settlement pattern are important elements of the rural character of the villages. To protect this rural character, regardless of being sewered, it is important to retain these large lots. This is particularly so when the village is a heritage village, such as Berrima, Exeter and Burrawang.”
24. On page 15, first paragraph, the second sentence refers to the need to encompass all types of housing in the Strategy, including rental accommodation. On page 16, second paragraph there is an explanation of what is “affordable” in the mortgage and rental context, namely, no more than 30% of the gross household income. For rental accommodation this can be facilitated through Secondary dwellings (which in tourist villages can also facilitate short term stays to support the local restaurant trade).
25. On page 21, the final paragraph (commencing “Council is committed to increasing housing choice …/”) talks of ensuring “development is in keeping with our community’s expectations”. As we have made clear in the past, we have not been satisfied with the recommendations for an increase in the number of dwelling rights in Berrima’s conservation areas. Nevertheless, we commend the planners for this Strategy, which offers a more controlled regulation of dwellings and population and also offers a means of avoiding the recommendations that have caused us concern in the past.
26. Page 19 talks of expected demand through to 2036 being 3,300 dwelling. It also talks of meeting our housing needs over that period. At present, almost all future targets are capable of being met with greenfield developments either already approved or identified in this Strategy. To provide for a fixed formula of 50% infill and 50% greenfield means that supply will be at least double the estimated (desired) supply. This goes well beyond the notion of surplus called for in the Regional Plan. To avoid this over supply we ask that the period of the Strategy be extended to 30 years.
27. Page 20 has 8 commendable guiding principles (in green shaded boxes). One is to “Plan for housing as a fundamental element of society, and not a speculative asset”. It can be expected that numbers of landowners will seek more development rights than they presently hold. This pressure can be resisted if it will lead to an undesirable excess and if there is a system in place that monitors and sets targets based on the public benefit rather than the private benefit. For this reason, we commend the planners on the Strategy in providing for monitoring and setting annual supply targets.
28. Page 21 sets out Planning Priority 1, which calls for the promotion of infill development. It needs to be made clear that “infill” refers to the urban centres of our towns, and not to rural infill, particularly within the Shire’s small rural villages and the rural surrounds of those villages. In addition, to avoid confusion about this in the future, “infill” should be defined in a manner that does not allow the rural surrounds of our villages to be filled with semi-rural or “peri-urban” development through Planning Proposals.
29. Page 22 (Objectives) again refers to a 50/50 split between infill and greenfield development. This rigid formula should not be adopted, but instead the supply by release of greenfield lots should be adjusted from year to year to fill the gap between the approved DAs and the target for new dwellings in that year.
30. Page 25, Planning Priority 3 – Provide for well planned new release areas
The third paragraph estimates the 6 new residential release areas will provide 3,150 dwellings over the next 30 years. This is precisely why the period of the releases should be extended by another 10 years. The expected demand of 3,300 dwellings over the next 15 years has already largely been met over the last 5 years. When the greenfield sites are added, together with the “bulge” of existing dwelling rights created under LEP 2010, it leads to a very large, not small, excess of supply over demand (“demand” in the sense of a desirable increase of dwellings). Rather than applying a fixed ratio of infill to greenfield, it is better to use absolute numbers of each. Otherwise a ramp up in one will lead to a ramp up in the other.
31. This restriction of supply would match strong community expectations to maintain the rural character of the Shire. To protect our rural character it is also important to define “infill” as urban infill in the three major towns. This is in line with the thinking of the DPIE. The term “infill” should expressly exclude infill in rural zoned land or in our rural villages. (see also paragraph 28 above)
32. Again, on page 25, the fourth paragraph in black (commencing “Council’s priority …/”) states:
“the staging and release of new living areas will need to ensure that greenfield land does not compromise infill development. This strategy has a target of 50/50 split between infill and greenfield development, meaning the identified new living areas will provide enough supply for a 30+ year period based on the current population forecasts and a continued supply of infill development.”
Given the massive potential supply from the greenfield developments over the next few years and the continuing bulge arising from LEP 2010 and Planning Proposals approved since 2010, this fixed 50/50 split implies a potential supply of infill being made available which far exceeds the Shire’s projected needs. In other words, as the bulge of DAs from past zoning begins to wane, the uptake of greenfield sites should rise as a ratio, and not be subject to a fixed ratio.
33. Accordingly, paragraph 4 on page 25 should be re-written to clarify that there will not be a fixed ratio of infill to greenfield:
“Council’s priority is to support infill development only to the extent necessary to supplement the greenfield development in meeting the Shire’s housing needs. The infill development should focus on increasing the range of housing types (e.g. medium density and smaller affordable housing) in strategic locations close to public transport. The shortfall of dwellings needed after the release of greenfield development is to be monitored on a year by year basis. Notwithstanding this annual monitoring, the ratio of infill to greenfield shall be flexible in any one year to meet the target for that year. Reducing lot sizes in infill development should not negatively impact the rural or heritage character of our towns, with sympathetic architecture and planning design being required where necessary. Villages and their rural surrounds in particular should not be subject to a reduction in lot size.”
34. Page 35 contains Figure 12, which, alarmingly for our Association, identifies a large area in yellow to the immediate north-east of Berrima as “Moderately Suitable” for greenfield development. This Association strongly objects to this categorisation. The rural land around Berrima must remain rural, even if it is outside the Berrima Landscape Conservation Area.
35. Page 55, Robertson (North East), paragraph 3 states that the Robertson sewerage treatment plant has excess capacity and rightfully points out that new developments should, where possible, utilise such capacity. This efficient use of existing infrastructure will allow housing costs to be kept down. Release of new dwelling rights in this area will also remove population pressure on our smaller villages, and in doing so protect the rural character of the Shire as a whole. This view, however, is subject to the views of the local community of Robertson.
36. We are aware that the community of Colo Vale is opposed to the Wensleydale greenfield site. Past community consultation, as recorded in the Local Planning Strategy, is hard evidence of this. We ask, therefore, that Wensleydale be removed from consideration as a greenfield site. The site is also unsuitable because the rail line near Colo Vale has not been in operation for decades.
37. To avoid Renwick merging over time with Mittagong, thereby losing the “green between” the two towns, we suggest that Mittagong East be deleted and the “Brownsite” of the Maltings be included in its place. The Maltings could easily accommodate the 40-dwellings estimated for Mittagong East. It would also be a way of retaining the heritage buildings at the Maltings, notwithstanding any internal remodelling.
38. Subject to the views of the local communities affected by the new greenfield developments, our Association supports the other proposed new greenfield developments adjacent to the existing towns, provided infill development is adjusted on a needs basis to meet the overall 30-year target for housing. New greenfield land releases should not be developed near the existing villages.
39. Again, infill should not be used to ramp up the overall creation of new dwelling rights by using a fixed ratio of 50/50 infill/greenfield, if greenfield development largely meets the projected demand. The aim of the Strategy should be to control population increase, which must be recognised as a threat to the rural character of the Shire.
40. Finally, the Association asks that the new Housing Strategy provide for changes to the relevant DCPs in the Shire to promote low carbon, energy efficient construction materials, as well as correctly oriented housing for maximum passive solar benefits. Similarly, following this year’s “Black Summer”, the Shire’s DCPs require a review of building regulations for new houses in bushfire prone areas.