These changing demographic patterns, as well as a growing population, help
account for the fact that Sydney will, on present trends, require an additional
520,000 new dwellings between 1991 and 2021. In response to these projections,
State governments have pursued policies of urban consolidation.
Urban consolidation is the process of increasing or maintaining the density
of housing in established residential areas (page 3). The ultimate aim of
consolidation is to reduce development on the fringe areas of the city.
Arguments for and against urban consolidation centre on three main issues:
economic, environmental and social. It is apparent that one of the driving
forces of urban consolidation in the later half of the 1990's is to help reduce
air pollution in Sydney, especially that affecting Sydney's western suburbs.
Commentators have noted that to achieve urban consolidation goals, land
prices, distribution of employment and access to transport are key factors that
influence where people choose to live (page 5). Local government is responsible
for day to day land use planning and housing management. It is argued by some
that historically, councils have entrenched the idea of a single dwelling on a
quarter acre block through regulatory fiat (page 6). The policies of State
governments towards urban consolidation targets has been of great significance
to councils and their land use planning procedures since the mid 1980's (page
With the election of the Carr ALP government in early 1995, previous State
government policies on urban consolidation were repealed, and councils were
invited to prepare their own residential development strategies (page 12). The
strategies were to identify urban consolidation opportunities, and if the
strategy was accepted by the State government the council would be exempt from
the newly drafted State Environmental Planning Policy No 53: Metropolitan
Residential Development (page 13). SEPP 53 was released in September 1997. Of
the 53 councils in the greater metropolitan area of Sydney, 36 have prepared
strategies that meet the government's urban consolidation goals, whilst the
remainder have been given an additional six months to prepare an acceptable
strategy or their council area will be subject to SEPP 53.