The first step toward opening up a potential 745 residential blocks in north Forbes has been taken with Forbes Shire Council giving its approval to rezoning a parcel of land.
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"Pretty amazing" were the words of the mayor at the October council meeting when councillors were presented with a private developer's plan to develop and release the land over 10 to 15 years.
"This is a developer that can see the potential in coming to Forbes," Mayor Phyllis Miller said at the meeting.
"This is a Sydney developer that's doing this development, they are very responsible and good developers.
"They're choosing us and Orange. I think we're pretty lucky in Forbes that we've got this planning proposal coming through."
The plan identifies land bounded by School Road on the north, Farnell Street on the East, Morton Street on the south and Edward Street on the west.
In stages, in response to demand, it would see the release of blocks from minimum lot sizes of 250 square metres to 550 square metres.
"Forbes has experienced considerable market growth in the last couple of years with the median sales price of a four-bedroom home climbing from $360,000 in 2021 to $538,000 in 2023," the report to councillors stated.
"There is therefore a significant increased demand in the supply of housing for Forbes. There is also a further increased demand in affordable housing options, and a diversity of housing supply is key to delivering this."
The proposal also includes rezoning land for a neighbourhood centre which could encompass a supermarket, specialised retailers, child care centre, a medical centre, and food and drink premises and a gym and/or other similar.
Another 5.63 hectares of land has been designated for open spaces and recreational amenities, following the pathway of the "Cypress Lane Drainage Corridor".
"This crucial segment of the development features a distinctive chain of ponds parkland, interwoven with shared pathways and picnic areas, all acting as the cohesive communal focal point within the masterplan and mirrors Forbes' link to waterways and the Lake system," the staff report to councillors says.
Council's Director Planning and Growth Mathew Teale said the proposal was an important one to discuss - and the result of hard work and vision by councillors and council staff over a number of years.
"People used to say 'Forbes is landlocked, Forbes doesn't develop, there's only dribs and drabs released here and there' ..." he said.
But council had over come that: the Housing Strategy developed this year identified land that could take residential development, and this developer had identified it as a good opportunity, he said.
With Goldridge Estate under development and State Government plans including social and affordable housing for North Forbes, Mr Teale said it was important to note this additional development would be market driven - in case anyone was worried about "flooding" the real estate market.
"I've been at council in excess of 20 years ... and I've never really seen it like this: the confidence is so high, the interest just keeps coming and we should be looking to take these opportunities when they present," he said.
"It's a really well crafted planning proposal that the staff support because we believe they've done their work appropriately to justify the release of 745 blocks but they won't be doing it all in one hit: it'll be a staged development ...
"They're looking at a neighbourhood shopping precinct, embellishing the natural water course, linking with council's controls for that same Cypress Lane to Lake Forbes stormwater drainage corridor.
"So I think on balance you're seeing something that's going to be forward thinking and set ourselves up for the next 20 to 40 years."
The proposal has been referred to the Department of Planning and Environment for a Gateway Determination. It would then go on public exhibition in Forbes for public comment before consideration by the council.
Staff have estimated making the required amendment to our Local Environmental Plan could take through to August 2024.
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