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Hornsby Housing Strategy Critique

Hornsby Council, to the North of Sydney, called for comments to its housing strategy:

My comments are available here:

  • [download id="10"]

planning_context The State government, which has the business idea of perpetual growth in the Sydney basin,  forces unsustainable housing targets on Councils and residents who don’t like it (red arrow). Most importantly, however,  the Metropolitan Strategy

does not contain a single calculation on how many

-  Kilo barrels equivalent of crude oil

-  million tons of coal

-  million m3 of natural gas

are required for the additional physical structures to be built and – on an annual basis – to operate and use these facilities over their life time of many decades.

Nor has the equivalent CO2 absorption capacity been estimated to allow such development to take place. Not to mention water and food resources close enough to the city to be considered sustainable in the evolving oil, energy and climate crisis. It is possible that future fuel shortages will drive people out of Sydney to smaller cities and rural areas. Immigration will also decline when it becomes clear what peak oil and declining oil production really means. Councils should therefore demand from the State government a detailed resource availability analysis which has to be subject to public consultation.

5_storey_guidelines The Hornsby housing strategy document “5 storey guidelines”, offers traditional designs packaged in text which does not match the images. Here is an example: on page 11, it says: „…promoting sustainable transport and healthier communities by giving more people the option of taking public transport, walking and cycling……” But what we see in the illustration is an urban development clogged with cars and basement car parks.  Planners and architects will really have to do some hard work here and abandon their deep rooted love affair with the car. At least they could delete the car templates from their image pick lists.

2nd_floodadditions What is proposed here is that natural population growth (which will also decline due to decreasing agricultural production)  should be accommodated in 2nd floor extensions of single storey houses, whereby the floor plan is duplicated for a 2nd dwelling unit and  the foot print of the existing house is not increased. A 2nd floor would require much less capital than a new house or flat. Federal tax exemption could be granted if rental income is directly used to pay off a mortgage. In this way a de-leveraging could take place faster and there would be a downward pressure on interest rates.

Under no circumstances should densely packed 10 storey developments be approved which will become the slums of the future. Residents must have a garden to supplement their food when the crunch time comes. No one should think we can make Sydney sustainable by whacking in high rises around rail stations. It is much too late (too near to the next phase of the oil crisis which started in 2005) to change the physical structure of Sydney which was developed under the assumption of $20 oil and without knowing about the CO2 problem. On how a sustainable city looks like see: Sustainable Cities Master Plan

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