Where is the Mosman Scenic Protection Area?

    The Mosman Scenic Protection Area applies to all land in Mosman from the waterline to the 60 metre contour, identified as a benchmark for significant views to and from Sydney and Middle Harbours.  It comprises land used primarily for residential purposes, although there are also large areas of national park and open space, along with land used for military purposes and the zoo. There are around 2,630 lots zoned R2 Low Density Residential within the Mosman Scenic Protection Area. 

    View maps:

    You can check your land zoning on the NSW Planning Portal.

    Why is the Mosman Scenic Protection Area important?

    Sydney Harbour is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful urban harbours in the world and the gateway to Sydney. As a place of significant national and heritage values, the harbour shapes Sydney’s identity and image like no other natural feature, making it an important natural asset to the people of Sydney, NSW and beyond. Mosman, prominently located within Sydney Harbour across from The Heads, is an integral part of this landscape and highly visible from surrounding waterways and land areas across the water. Mosman’s foreshore slopes are predominantly characterised by a dominance of vegetation over built form, largely the result of good planning. 

    The significance of Mosman’s foreshore slopes has been recognised in State and Council planning since the 1960s. A suite of planning controls in Council’s Mosman Local Environmental Plan 2012 and Residential Development Control Plan 2012, and in the NSW Government’s Sydney Regional Environmental Plan – Sydney Harbour Catchment 2005, apply a fine-grained assessment of proposed development. These controls consider matters such as the visual impact of development, landscaping, view sharing to the harbour and iconic landmarks, bulk, scale and design. 

    Why is Council concerned about the NSW Government's Housing Code?

    Without the exclusion that currently applies to Mosman’s Scenic Protection Area, complying development in the form of new one and two-storey dwelling houses, and alterations and additions to existing dwelling houses, could be approved through the private certification system. The impacts on Mosman residents would include: 

    • There would be no neighbour notification inviting submissions from surrounding landowners;
    • The dominance of vegetation over built form is a defining feature of Mosman which would not be protected; 
    • There would be no consideration of:
      • Views to, or from, Sydney and Middle Harbours;
      • Overshadowing;
      • Privacy; or
      • Streetscape and desired future character; and
    • The development approved could be greater in bulk and scale, and have less landscaped area.

    Under the private certification system, approval would be issued by a private certifier under State-wide "one-size-fits-all" controls, bypassing Council and the development application process. The planning regime would change overnight and may adversely affect Mosman residents in terms of their amenity and enjoyment of their property, and create uncertainty about what development may occur in their proximity. 

    It may also significantly change the visual quality of the Mosman foreshore slopes as viewed from Sydney and Middle Harbours, and enjoyed by the residents of Sydney and visitors. The potential impact on the foreshore slopes, especially in a cumulative sense would be adverse.

    When does the current exclusion from the Housing Code expire?

    The Mosman Scenic Protection Area is excluded from the Housing Code until 30 November 2021.  An exclusion has applied to the area since the Code was first introduced by the NSW Government in 2009, and since this time Council has continued to lobby the NSW Government for more permanent protection measures. 

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    What is Zone E4 Environmental Living?

    Zone E4 Environmental Living is a low-density residential zone that can be applied to land in areas with special ecological, scientific or aesthetic values. This zone is used in many council areas throughout the Sydney metropolitan area, including on foreshore land and in bushland areas in  Hornsby, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, North Sydney, Northern Beaches, Parramatta, Sutherland, The Hills and Willoughby.

    Would dwelling houses still be permissible in Zone E4 Environmental Living?

    Yes. It is Council’s intention that the range of permissible residential land uses and controls that currently apply to the land under the R2 Low Density Residential zone would continue to be applied under the new E4 Environmental Living zone, without significant change. 

    For example, dwelling houses would continue to be permissible, subject to the same maximum permitted building height and floor space ratio, and minimum landscaped area, that currently applies under Mosman Local Environmental Plan 2012. Importantly, clause 6.4 Scenic Protection would continue to be a matter for consideration in the assessment of any development application, requiring consideration of the location, design and visual impact of the proposed development, along with the natural landscape and landform.

    Residential land uses currently permitted in Zone R2 under Mosman Local Environmental Plan 2012 are shown in the table below:

    Currently:  Zone R2 Low Density Residential
    Change in zone:  Zone E4 Environmental Living
    Permitted residential land uses
    Dwelling houses; 
    Semi-detached dwellings
    Dwelling houses; 
    Semi-detached dwellings

    What are the pros and cons of Zone R2 Low Density Residential v. Zone E4 Environmental Living?

    There are pros and cons to retaining Zone R2 Low Density Residential, versus a change to Zone E4 Environmental Living, and different planning controls that would apply to the land from 30 November 2021 (when the current exclusion from the Housing Code is due to cease). These are considered in the table below. 

    Zone R2 Low Density Residential
    Zone E4 Environmental Living
    Applicable planning controls 
    (from 30 November 2021)
    Housing Code would apply to most land*. New one and two-storey dwelling houses, and alterations/additions to existing dwelling houses, could be built as complying development, bypassing the development application process.
    Housing Code would not apply. All new dwelling houses and alterations/additions would need Council approval through the development application process. This is the same process as currently applies.
    Applicant could receive faster approval as complying development through the private certification system. There may be cost savings in application fees.Council's suite of planning controls in Mosman Local Environmental Plan 2012 and Residential Development Control Plan would continue to apply. View sharing, visual impact and retaining tree canopy/vegetation are key considerations. Surrounding landowners would be notified of proposed development and submissions invited for consideration as part of the development application process. This is the same process as currently applies.
    State-wide planning controls would not consider view loss, visual impact, privacy or overshadowing. Reduced standards for landscaping and greater bulk/scale of buildings. No meaningful consultation would occur with surrounding landowners. May significantly change the visual quality of foreshore slopes and resident amenity.
    The complying development pathway would continue to not be available to landowners. 

    *Note: The Housing Code will not, by virtue of other exclusions, apply to land that is a heritage item, within a heritage conservation area, or land with a foreshore building line, littoral rainforest or acid sulphate soils.  

    What happens next?

    Council is in the early stages of considering the E4 Environmental Living zone as an option for the Mosman Scenic Protection Area, and is seeking feedback. Council planning staff will review all feedback received and prepare a report for consideration at a Council Meeting to be held later in 2020. 

    If Council does resolve to proceed with rezoning the identified land from R2 to E4, further consultation with landowners and the wider community would be undertaken. The steps involved in this process would be:

    1. Council would endorse a ‘Planning Proposal’ to rezone the land and submit this to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment for initial ‘Gateway’ approval; 
    2. Consultation would be undertaken for a minimum of 28 days - this would include letters to landowners, advertisement in the newspaper and Council’s social media, and community meetings as necessary;
    3. A further report would be prepared for Council’s consideration detailing the outcome of community consultation and any submissions received;
    4. If Council resolves to proceed with the rezoning, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment would be requested to amend Mosman Local Environmental Plan 2012 written instrument and maps to reflect the change in zone.

    This process may take around 12-18 months.  You can keep up-to-date with the progress of this project by registering to receive Council's Urban Planning e-newsletter. Information will also be posted on our Mosman Planning website.

    How can I make a submission?

    Feedback is welcomed until 5 October 2020.  You can provide your feedback in a number of ways - by: