The NSW Government has approved the Ku-ring-gai Town Centres Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

Finalisation of the LEP followed consultation by both the council and the State Government and will assist Council in meeting its Metropolitan Strategy dwelling targets.

"The Metropolitan Strategy identifies that Sydney needs approximately 640,000 new homes by the year 2031," says Tony Kelly, planning minister.

"To play its part in meeting this need, in 2006 Ku-ring-gai Council agreed to meet a housing target of 10,000 new dwellings, which is substantially less than the average figure of almost 15,000 across all Sydney councils.

"This target takes into account Ku-ring-gai’s existing character as well as its future growth capacity, the vast majority of which has been identified around existing centres."

The LEP applies to less than six per cent of the overall LGA. Heritage and amenity provisions have been incorporated in the LEP. This has led to the inclusion of additional individual heritage items as well as 14 new heritage conservation areas that did not previously exist in any Ku-ring-gai planning instrument.

The new LEP also reinforces the existing legislative protections covering all the areas of Blue Gum High Forest and Ironbark-Turpentine Forest in the LGA.

Last year, the Department of Planning commissioned an independent review of the dwelling yields in Ku-ring-gai which showed that the delivery of new dwellings remained consistent with the target of 10,000 new dwellings as set out in the Metropolitan Strategy.

The study showed that the Town Centres LEP will likely deliver around 4,500 new dwellings over the next 20 years on top of the 5,000 already approved by Council since 2005, with an additional 600 dwellings associated with developments outside the town centres area.

Council will also be putting in place a new development control plan, including detailed design guidelines to ensure new development interacts appropriately with other existing and proposed development.

The LEP also addresses this issue through the use of graduated zonings so that, in general, high and low density zones are buffered by medium density development in between.

"However, the decision to proceed with actual development rests both with the developers, based on their assessment of demand and financial viability, and with Ku-ring-gai Council, which would need to approve new development applications. Ultimately, construction of new dwellings in the area will be driven by local demand," Kelly says.