KU-RING-GAI residents are fuming over plans for hundreds of apartments in six-storey blocks but further north in Hornsby the council is considering towers three times the size.Thirty kilometres from the CBD and on the edge of the Berowra bushland, Hornsby is classified as an outer-ring suburb, but Sydney’s population growth has convinced the council it has little option but to contemplate developments with densities still rare in most inner-ring suburbs.It has included in its draft housing strategy a proposal for 20-storey towers on five blocks close to the Westfield shopping centre, and within weeks will decide whether to make that draft policy permanent.Many residents are furious and have formed the Stop 20 Group which will hold a public meeting today to protest at a policy they believe would see construction of 20 separate 20-storey buildings dramatically alter the character of the suburb.The mayor, Nick Berman, said he understood the opposition but the council needed a policy on where to put the 10,000 new dwellings it has to take under the government’s policy to deal with population growth.The council had considered adopting a policy like that imposed by the state government on Ku-ring-gai, with four- and six-storey apartment blocks in and around train stations, but there had been heavy resistance from residents who feared apartments in quiet suburban streets. “The first draft had five-storey units in Asquith, Berowra, and Normanhurst and the clear message council received was residents wanted to see unit developments in the existing town centres, but not in low-density areas,” Cr Berman said.While 20-storey towers had angered some locals, most had agreed that if the extra homes had to be built, the best way to do it was to build a smaller number of higher-density buildings, he said.He dismissed as a “gross exaggeration” plans for 20 towers and it was “more like six buildings” containing 599 units, housing 1200 to 1500 people.But a spokesman for the Stop 20 Group, Kim Mullins, said her group “had information” that 20 towers would be allowed if the draft policy was adopted.”We find 20 storeys tremendously disproportionate with even the projected needs and the resulting congestion will have huge impact on the town centre . . . with risks of escalating crime as there’s so little for teenagers to do,’ she said.Cr Berman said one reason for allowing developers to build so high was because it increased the value of the project and gave them a better chance to buy out existing property owners to ensure projects went ahead.
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