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News Changes to the NSW office of Water Guidelines for riparian corridors on waterfront land

From the first of July this year the NSW Office of Water (NOW) has adopted a new set of guidelines for riparian corridors on waterfront land.

Sydney needs a minimum of 25, 000 additional dwellings per year (the total for 2009-2010 was around 14, 000) and the new guidelines have been developed as part of the NSW Governments package of reforms to streamline the application and assessment process to improve housing supply.

Given that the NSW Government seminar for the new guidelines was booked out in record time, Stormwater NSW organised and hosted a second seminar in November. The seminar was well attended with around 140 people present at the series of presentations and discussions at The Concourse in Chatswood.


Presentations from Richard Neville (NOW), Alison Burton (NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure), Jeremy Morice (NOW) and Gina Potter (NOW) outlined the background, objectives and application of the new guidelines, which provides a riparian corridor matrix for the types of development that can occur on waterfront land. Where applications are presented in accordance with the matrix and other NOW guidelines they will be assessed under a streamlined process in order to meet the NSW government’s requirements to improve housing supply.   

The presentations facilitated numerous questions and extensive discussion surrounding the implications of the application and how these revised guidelines would impact existing and future projects.  The main topics discussed included:

  • The potential impact on existing approvals that have not yet been developed where more onerous riparian controls were applied according to the former riparian corridor objective setting approach;
  • The reliance of using the ‘blue line’ on the 1:25 000 topographic map serries to determine strahler stream order and subsequent buffer width; and
  • The types of detention basins (detention only, filtration, type of vegetation)  allowed on-line and within the vegetated riparian zones

Ben Wolfgramm from Stormwater NSW kept the discussion up between presentations, asking members from a variety of different sectors within the industry to highlight some of the obstacles, challenges and benefits that they see the changes have, or are anticipated to, create.

Although not everyone’s concerns (such as using the ‘blue line’ on the 1:25,000 topographic maps) will be addressed in the near future, the seminar was well received for providing the background understanding and clarity to apply the guidelines accordingly.

Options for a second seminar hosted by Stormwater NSW in Regional NSW are now being investigated, please contact GEMs to register your interest.