It comes as a Greater Sydney Commission report, released Thursday, emphasised the need for diverse housing due to the increase in people working from home, as well as investment in public and shared spaces, and a more walkable city.
Mr Dominello, who is the Minister for Customer Service, has previously demanded lower targets in his electorate and helped secure a two-year freeze on residential rezonings in Ryde. He also previously attacked Meriton’s plans for a Macquarie Park residential tower up to 63-storeys high, which has since been approved.
Asked what he thought of the council’s Tuesday resolution, Mr Dominello replied: “I support Ryde Council 100 per cent on this move.”
But his fresh stance could put him at odds with cabinet colleague Rob Stokes, who recently accused a northern suburbs council of “throwing its toys out of the cot” over its abandonment of housing targets set by the Greater Sydney Commission.
When other local governments called on a revision of housing targets, Mr Stokes warned that councils needed to plan for population growth to pick up once the COVID-19 crisis eased.
The Herald sought comment from Mr Stokes’ office, with a Department of Planning, Industry and Environment spokesperson responding that, while COVID-19 may have slowed the rate of Sydney’s growth, it would pick up again “and it’s important we continue planning for our future.”
“Demand for new housing exists irrespective of population growth. We need more and different types of homes to meet the needs of not just a growing community, but a changing community,” the spokesperson said.
The City of Ryde relied on a report from planning consultancy Hill PDA that said overseas migration represented about a third of the local government area’s population intake, a stream cut off by international border closures.
The state government’s budget this year noted net international migration to NSW was expected to be negative in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 financial years, while the fertility rate was also expected to be lower.
The consultancy report, taking in DPIE population projections from 2019, said the effect of the pandemic was likely to see a forecast reduction of 11,500 people by 2036.
“The COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly have an effect on the short to medium term population growth of City of Ryde resulting from reduced overseas migration,” the report said.
However it also added that given the many pressures on housing in the LGA, combined with the relatively short duration of overseas migration impacts, it didn’t appear necessary to reduce targets.
The council will still need to have its revised housing strategy endorsed by planning officials in line with the requirements of DPIE and the Greater Sydney Commission.
In its Pulse of Greater Sydney report for 2020, the Greater Sydney Commission said changes to where people worked had revitalised some centres, with housing prices increasing in regional areas in recent months while Sydney prices decreased, a departure from long-term trends.
Angus Thompson is an Urban Affairs reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.