Minns Rides Roughshod Over Hills Community

A cap on the number of dwellings at the Hills Showground Precinct has been scrapped by the Minns government before a promised site for a new school has been identified.

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Dr Peter Gangemi said the decision showed absolute disdain for the people of The Hills Shire, which is already buckling under the pressure of an infrastructure shortfall.

“In our conversations with the NSW Government, we were told that the number of homes in the Hills Showground would be restricted to 5,000 until a new school site had been identified and funded,” Mayor Gangemi said.

“Now the Minns government has discarded that, paving the way for almost double the number of homes without the schools so desperately needed by families within The Hills.

“This shows that the Minns government is prepared to ride roughshod over the Hills community and cram in as many homes as possible without securing the required infrastructure.”

State Member for Castle Hill and Hills Shire Councillor Mark Hodges said public schools were bursting at the seams in The Hills Shire.

“Our population is booming, and our classrooms are full, yet we have no commitment from the NSW Government to upgrade our established schools or build more schools across the wider Hills community,” Clr Hodges said.

“The recent funding announcement for schools by the Minns government did not include any new school funding within The Hills, despite the Department of Education raising the need for a school to be located in a priority precinct, such as the Showground.

“By 2036, we will have more than 90,000 new residents living across The Hills; of that number, 20,000 will call the Showground Precinct home. This community has every right to feel concerned about what the Minns government is inflicting on our Shire.”

The NSW Government rezoned the Showground Precinct for medium-to-high-density development in 2017 as part of its Planned Precinct Program along the Sydney Metro Northwest.

Minns government

The precinct will have 9,500 dwellings at total capacity, of which over 3,500 have already been approved. The number of homes was limited to 5,000 until the NSW Government provided the necessary infrastructure.

The decision to scrap the cap follows a series of moves by the Minns government towards facilitating overdevelopment in The Hills without appropriate increases in infrastructure.

Before the state election, the NSW Planning Minister Paul Scully identified the Cherrybrook Precinct as “ripe” for additional development, despite the Place Strategy limiting the precinct to 3,200 new homes in buildings of three to five storeys.

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment also wrote to Council, confirming that changes may be made to the Cherrybrook Precinct.

In June, the State Government unveiled an initiative allowing developers to increase the height and density of their projects by an extra 30 per cent over local controls if they allocate at least 15 per cent of their development to affordable housing for 15 years.

Mayor Gangemi said The Hills already felt the impacts of the Minns government’s decisions.

“A planning proposal for a spot rezoning on Seven Hills Road was progressed to Gateway Determination by the Sydney Central City Planning Panel in July, overruling Council’s decision not to proceed.

This decision seemed inconsistent with a previous proposal, also located in Baulkham Hills Town Centre, but was rejected by this panel just before the state election.”

“I believe the family-friendly character of The Hills is under assault due to the collective changes imposed by the Minns government,” he said.