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NSW rejects housing projects on Western Sydney floodplains 

The NSW Government says it has taken action to prevent the construction of new housing developments in some areas at high risk of flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley west of Sydney. 

The decision, following the release of a Flood Evacuation Modelling report, means that, of about 12,700 new homes previously proposed under three rezonings, only up to 2300 will now proceed. 

“Western Sydney residents have borne the brunt of recent disasters including the pandemic and floods in the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley,” Deputy Premier and Minister for Western Sydney Prue Carr said. 

“By stopping unsafe development in dangerous areas on floodplains, and with our Government’s work to reduce the risk of disasters before they happen, we’re making sure communities across Western Sydney, in areas including Penrith, Blacktown and Riverstone, are finally supported and better protected.” 

The Government says a proposed rezoning and draft plans for Marsden Park North precinct and Riverstone Town Centre won’t proceed, while plans for the West Schofields precinct will partially proceed, subject to strict conditions.  

The three projects were put on hold in 2020 until further flood risk investigations and evacuation modelling were completed. 

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Paul Scully says there’s a need to deliver new housing but it needs to be done safely. 

“New developments could impact the ability of both new and existing residents to evacuate safely during emergencies, which puts more lives at risk,” he said. 

“I’d rather a disappointed landowner confront me over a decision we’ve made to keep them safe, rather than console them when they’ve lost a loved one because of floods.” 

The Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) says it’s the first tangible decision by a State Government in response to the agreement by National Cabinet last year that “the days of developing on floodplains need to end”.  

“This is a significant shift in thinking about how we make the region safer and improve its risk profile,” ICA CEO Andrew Hall said. 

“Insurers appreciate that Sydney is grappling with a housing crisis as the population surges, but repeating mistakes of the past through poor planning decisions would only condemn future generations to trauma and financial loss through devastating flood events while placing further pressure on all insurance premiums.”