What is a Planning Proposal?

    The Wollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009 (Wollongong LEP 2009) is legislation made under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW) (the Act) that provides a framework that guides planning decisions with the Wollongong local government area.

    Amending the Wollongong LEP 2009 starts with a Planning Proposal, which describes the outcome and justification for an LEP amendment. It is the key part of the process for making an LEP, as set out under Division 3.4 of the Act.

    Information on Planning Proposals, and the process of making and amending a Local Environmental Plan, is provided by the Department of NSW Planning and Environment.

    What is the background to this Proposal?

    The Planning Proposal is the result of an adopted Wollongong City Council Strategic Planning Document – The Wollongong Housing Strategy 2023. The proposal is consistent with Goal 1 of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan 2041: We value and protect our environment, and Strategy 1.5: Maintain the unique character of the Wollongong Local Government Area, whilst balancing development, population growth and housing needs.

    There is a long history of development impacting upon the natural areas of the Illawarra Escarpment and the foothills. This resulted in a Commission of Inquiry into the Long-Term Management of the Illawarra Escarpment (1999) and subsequently the Illawarra Escarpment Strategic Management Plan (IESMP) (2006) and 2015.

    The IESMP 2015 notes defining the escarpment boundary has been difficult and was created based upon historic environmental plans and subdivision patterns rather than landform characteristics which often extend beyond the conservation areas and into land zoned R2 Low Density Residential.

    Increasingly, undesirable forms of residential development and subdivision are proposed on R2 zoned land in the higher elevations of the foothills. Often these sites are highly constrained by natural hazards, within vistas from key view corridors and have limited access to infrastructure and services.

    Council has identified the need for greater strategic land use planning for future residential development in the foothills. The aim is to limit exposing an increasing population to natural hazards, maintain the values of the regionally significant Illawarra Escarpment by protecting it from inappropriate forms of development and to locate more intensive forms of residential development in planned and serviced locations.

    Council’s Housing Strategy 2023 addresses how and where residential development is planned for as our population grows.

    What is the Wollongong Housing Strategy 2023?

    On 27 February 2023 Wollongong City Council adopted the Housing Strategy 2023. The strategy guides future housing directions through implementation items to enable appropriate housing options in appropriate locations.

    Council plans to provide appropriate housing options in appropriate locations through:

    • Retaining the conservation area of the Illawarra Escarpment as a conservation area, with limited opportunity for additional dwellings. Including protecting sensitive environmental locations for inappropriate housing development.
    • Decreasing the residential development potential due to environmental constraints within the Illawarra Escarpment Foothills.
    • Plan for appropriate scaled development in locations in proximity to town centres and supporting infrastructure.

    The Strategy included implementation action LZN6:

    Review the rezoning of large lots in the Illawarra Escarpment Foothills to reduce development potential.

    What is the Large Lot Review?

    A review of all large R2 Low Density Residential zoned lots interfacing the Escarpment was carried out to fulfil Implementation Action LZN6.

    The review focused on identifying large R2 zoned lots, greater than 1 hectare and adjacent smaller lots, which share similar constraints to the nearby mapped Escarpment lands.

    The 68 lots presented in the review were those that have the greatest potential of impacting upon the escarpment values, if developed or subdivided for more intensive forms of Low Density Residential development.

    A copy of the Review is attached to the 3 April 2032 Council Report.

    Why is a Planning Proposal needed to rezone land?

    The Large Lots Interfacing the Escarpment Review identified certain land holdings that if developed or subdivided for more intensive forms of residential development would likely have an impact on the Illawarra Escarpment values and expose an increased number of people to natural hazards in locations with limited supporting infrastructure.

    The proposal seeks to rezone large R2 Low Density Residential zoned lots in proximity to the escarpment while managing appropriate permissible land uses, including some forms of residential development.

    The proposal seeks to permit some forms of residential development that are appropriate for the site constraints, rather than the need for large scale engineering works and landform modification.

    The proposal seeks to provide an environmental focused outcome for lands that share common attributes with the Illawarra Escarpment.

    The Planning Proposal will assist in managing future populations exposed to natural hazards associated with the escarpment and support sustainable population growth in planned growth areas.

    Will compensation be offered for rezoning my land?

    The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 does not provide for betterment, where land values increase as a result of a planning decision, and conversely does not provide for compensation if values decrease. The proposal will permit a range of permissible uses on you land and as such, you will still be able to use your land and lodge a Development Application for uses applicable permitted under the proposed land zoning. For this reason, Council will not seek to acquire your land. If the Planning Proposal completely sterilised the land from all development, effectively making it a public reserve, then there could be claims that a public authority should acquire the land.

    What stage is the Planning Proposal at now?

    Wollongong City Council resolved, at its meeting held 3 April 2023, to prepare a Planning Proposal under the Act and for it to be sent to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment seeking a Gateway determination and public exhibition. The Council Report of this meeting can be found here.

    The Planning Proposal has now been reviewed by the Department, which has issued a Gateway determination to progress to Public Exhibition.

    How can I provide a comment on the Proposal?

    As the Department has issued a Gateway determination to progress the proposal, a formal exhibition period will occur between Wednesday 6 September through to Wednesday 11 October 2023. Council is seeking the views of the community on the proposal during this period.

    Share your thoughts by:

    • Completing the online form
    • Emailing council@wollongong.nsw.gov.au
    • Writing to The General Manager, Wollongong City Council, Locked Bag 8821 WOLLONGONG DC NSW 2500
    • Phoning the Land Use Planning team on 4227 7111

    Please provide your feedback by 11 October 2023. For written, phone and emailed submissions, please quote: 'PP-2023/3'. Any submissions become public documents and may be viewed by other persons on request. Please read Council's Privacy Policy before submitting your feedback.

    How and when will a decision be made?

    Following the public exhibition period, the Planning Proposal will be assessed, taking into account all stakeholder submissions, and a Post Exhibition Report will be prepared for Council’s consideration.

    The Post Exhibition Report will be considered at a Council meeting where Councillors will make a decision about the Planning Proposal.

    Subject to the outcome, it will then be forwarded to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for finalisation and amendment of the Wollongong Local Environmental Plan.