NSW Government bans senior housing developments in ‘rural’ areas of metropolitan Sydney

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The State Government has taken dramatic action to halt the development of new aged care homes and retirement villages in ‘rural’ areas of Sydney, amending its Seniors Housing State Environmental Planning Policy to prevent new plans for seniors housing on land within the ‘Metropolitan Rural Area of Greater Sydney’.

The changes are effective immediately, though the Government says that development applications and applications for site compatibility certificates that have already been lodged will continue to be assessed and determined.

The ban includes areas of:

  • The Northern Beaches LGA
  • The Blue Mountains LGA
  • The Blacktown LGA
  • The Camden LGA
  • The Campbelltown LGA
  • The Fairfield LGA
  • The Hawkesbury LGA
  • The Hills LGA
  • The Hornsby LGA
  • The Liverpool LGA
  • The Penrith LGA
  • The Sutherland Shire LGA
  • The Wollondilly Shire LGA

Only land identified on the metropolitan rural maps as an exclusion zone is exempt.

You can find the maps of the various areas here.

A number of Sydney Councils have lobbied the Government in recent years over new seniors housing developments, in particular the Hills Shire Council, which is 30km northwest of the Sydney CBD.

As we reported two years ago, concerns that the area were in danger of becoming ‘geriatric cities’ drove the Council to adopt a temporary policy of objecting to all new retirement village applications.

Former Federal politician and Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock told The Daily Telegraph the new ban was a “win”, saying senior housing developments are “simply not appropriate for rural areas”.

“There are a number of issues, particularly that they are not consistent with the character of the area and they are not well serviced by necessary infrastructure,” Cr Ruddock said.

“We are certainly not opposed to senior housing developments and we strongly support their construction under the correct circumstances.”

“You don’t have to look very far to see that they can be done very well, but they have to be in an appropriate location with adequate amenity.”

“These are essential developments, particularly as the population continues to age, which makes it all the more important that they be done right.”

You have to ask however: what is the definition of ‘rural’?

The new policy does not indicate how the ‘metropolitan rural’ areas were determined.

It is likely however to affect developers with ‘rural’ land that have yet to file a SCC or development application for their site.