Developers win the battle against Sydney NIMBYs.

The four-year growth cycle has driven house prices up more than 50 per cent in Sydney, and there’s a special breed of home owner becoming extinct as a result of it, development experts say.

If anything, we're more likely to read a story about neighbours courting developers than fighting against them.

The “not in my backyard” or NIMBY local resident, a stereotype of the perennial hater of changes in a local suburb and a thorn in the side for developers, has started to disappear, Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) president Stephen Albin said.

Many of these property owners and local residents have seen record building approvals and soaring house prices – and they no longer see homes just as a place to live.

If anything, we’re more likely to read a story about neighbours courting developers than fighting against them. Photo: Supplied

“People are starting to see their homes as assets – it’s more about whether they can afford to move up the ladder,” Mr Albin said.

“A lot of people from the Hills selling at higher prices are moving into the northern beaches. People don’t make it a ‘home for life’ anymore. The life cycle of home ownership is different.”

And part of seeing a home as an asset is seeing how to make the most profit out of it. In the past four-year cycle, where rezonings for higher-density housing have been a common phenomenon, some of the biggest profits are available by selling to developers.

UDIA NSW chief executive Stephen Albin and Minister Rob Stokes presented to developers about the future of building and progress.UDIA NSW chief executive Stephen Albin and Minister Rob Stokes presented to developers about the future of building and progress. Photo: Supplied

“It’s totally different, now it’s all about disruptive development where households are getting together and master planning and selling their properties for a profit,” Mr Albin said.

Long-term residents in Sydney’s north west and other areas have become overnight millionaires by banding together with their neighbours to attract cashed up property developers.

“There’s less NIMBYism as they’re seeing the benefits. It’s all over Sydney and it’s a way of unlocking more density in the city,” he said.

NIMBYism has changed over time.                                              NIMBYism has changed over time. Photo: Matt Golding

Property commentator Pete Wargent agreed there was less NIMBYism in Sydney due to a “slightly more widespread acceptance of multi-unit developments today, especially given their prevalence through this market cycle”.

However, there was still an anti-development culture borne out of a desire to protect and maintain the environment, heritage properties and the culture of an area in some areas, such as leafy garden suburbs on the lower north shore, he said.

“That said, NIMBYism often boils down to a simple self-interested desire to maintain and protect the value – or perceived value – of one’s one dwelling, or to prevent higher-density living from damaging the liveability of a location,” Mr Wargent said.

And there’s a chance NIMBYism isn’t disappearing, just evolving, University of Western Sydney School of Social Sciences and Psychology lecturer Dallas Rogers said. His research found a shift in “the way people performed NIMBYism” that aligned with a change in the way governments treated urban planning – moving them from local council control to regional governments and more state significant planning decisions.

Instead of local NIMBYism disappearing, they’re shifting into regional alliances or coalitions with other active groups, he said.

“We found that the local NIMBY was still quite active, still concerned about what was happening in their local area,” Dr Rogers said.

“But these regional groups are creating coalitions of local NIMBYs,” he said, referring to the Sydney protest around Westconnex. The WestCONnex Action Group is made up of “residents from western, inner and south-west Sydney who’ve teamed up”.

“With Westconnex there was a lot of coalition building, different groups from different parts and bringing them together under a united plan … for a period of time to protest against a certain development,” he said.

“NIMBY isn’t the right word anymore. NIMBY is a local phenomenon. We need something else [more like] Not In My City.”

Presenting at the UDIA NSW Winter Luncheon with Mr Albin, NSW Minister for Planning Rob Stokes pointed to the City Life Labs that aims to open up community consultation early on in the development process to avoid any last minute issues.

“We need to ensure the debate is about how that growth and change can bring about progress and make ordinary people’s lives better,” Mr Stokes said.


Date: 5th July, 2016

Author: J

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