Planning Minister Pru Goward

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New apartment developments could be as small as 35 square metres with no parking provisions under proposed guidelines released by the NSW Government Planning Minister Pru Goward last week.

The move has provoked a spate of criticism from residents in relatively high density yet suburban areas, where parking is already at a premium and transport is not as well integrated as some inner city networks.

The NSW Government said the aims of the changes are to encourage better design and to make apartments more affordable.

“While the review found that the policy and the design code are still relevant today, extensive stakeholder and community consultation highlighted that with some changes the policy has the potential to improve apartment design further, to account for population change and to make apartments more affordable.”

Tony Recsei, president of community group Save Our Suburbs, has slammed the move as detrimental to the quality of life Sydneysiders currently enjoy.

“This is ideology gone mad. Such tiny apartments are third world living and totally inappropriate for Australian cities. Not only will they reduce quality of life, but there is no guarantee that they will be genuinely affordable.”

Mr Recsei also believes the removal of car parking in new developments is simply cost cutting that will not make housing more affordable, but will rather line the pockets of developers.

“Does the Minister think people can abandon car ownership because they live near a train station? Does she really believe developers will provide affordable housing because they’re spared the cost of excavating a car park?”

“Even if people living in those apartments take the train to work, most will still want or need a car,” he said. “People still have to drive all over town to take children to sporting matches.”

“They visit friends who aren’t necessarily on a public transport route, they shop for heavy groceries and for bulky goods. The latter are not even allowed on public transport.”

The changes to the State Environmental Planning Policy can be made by the Minister without parliamentary approval.

According to Mr Recsei, the Minister plans to persuade councils not to issue further street parking permits.

Following a spate of political rivalries in the last couple of months between the NSW Government and Lord Mayor Clover Moore, smooth negotiations on this issue may prove to be more difficult than other councils.

The City of Sydney already does not issue street parking permits for buildings that were built or majorly refurbished after 1996 in the South Sydney area and 2000 in the Sydney City area.

The council has recently introduced a visitor parking scheme, whereby eligible residents will be given a certain number of visitor day parking passes depending on the resident’s location within the city and existing parking permits.

Additionally, businesses in the area with no parking allocation and a need to transport goods in and out are now also eligible for a special permit.

The Government is accepting submissions on the proposal until the end of this October.