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Local character statements a win for community planning

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The NSW Government’s first local character statement is a win for communities wanting more say in how their neighbourhoods evolve and respond to growth, NSW Minister for Planning and Housing, Anthony Roberts, said, showcasing the St Leonards-Crows Nest plan as the first to feature such a statement.

“Going forward every new rezoning plan will put community needs at the centre of our planning by building on an understanding of local character,” Mr Roberts said.

“We’ve consulted widely with the community and listened. People identified the need to protect their village atmosphere, walkability and liveability of their area. We’ve matched that against our Government’s passion for investing in more green space, quality public open space, and more health and education infrastructure.”

The first Local Character Statement, prepared for the St Leonards-Crows Nest plan, was drafted by the Department of Planning and Environment in consultation with the Government Architect and the three councils covered by the plan, Lane Cove, Willoughby and North Sydney.

Local Character Statements can also be prepared by individual councils. In 2018 the NSW Government has provided $2.5 million to 15 councils to help them understand local character as part of reviews of their Local Environmental Planning policies.

Local Character Statements feature specialist technical studies to detail how the community’s vision can be achieved, and a Draft Green Plan that guide the planning and design of new open space and green canopy for the area.

For example, the Local Character Statement for St Leonards-Crows Nest specifically identified the need to avoid overshadowing over Willoughby Road’s vibrant restaurant precinct, as this was a specific part of the character of the neighbourhood residents wanted to protect.

The draft rezoning proposal for future buildings over the Sydney Metro site at Crows Nest is also on exhibition for community feedback. The proposed Crows Nest Metro site provides a significant opportunity for transit orientated development, capitalising on the city shaping Sydney Metro project and substantial public investment in world class transport infrastructure.

“St Leonards-Crows Nest was first cab off the rank, but we expect Councils will work with us and prominently feature Local Character Statements in every new rezoning from now on,” Mr Roberts said.

“They’re going to become a critically important feature of planning that puts communities at the centre of everything we do.”

In addition to NSW Government funding, a Special Infrastructure Contribution (SIC) will be paid by developers on new developments to cover the cost of providing essential infrastructure to support the 7500 new homes allowed for under the St Leonards-Crows Nest plan.

The next step in the process is for the community to have another opportunity to make submissions and give feedback on the draft plan and draft local character statement.

Source: NSW Government

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