The Hills – a family-friendly region

The Hills Shire is one of the fastest growing regions in the state, with more families moving to the area to enjoy a mix of urban and rural living, access to employment, retail, recreational opportunities and the soon-to-be built Sydney Metro Northwest.

Comprising of approximately 25 suburbs across Sydney’s metropolitan north-west and nestled between the Hawkesbury River and the rolling hills of the Blue Mountains, the Shire’s population has seen an 11 per cent increase in the last four years, from 141,995 to 157,243.

According to the recent Census data, more families are choosing to move to the Sydney Hills, contributing to this population spike.

Figures also revealed the average household size in The Hills is about 20 per cent higher than the national average (3.2 persons compared with the national average of 2.6 persons) and couples with children remain the most common household type in the region at 53 per cent.

Mayor of The Hills Shire, Councillor Yvonne Keane said the results came as “no surprise”.

“We have rich open spaces, low crime, excellent schools and access to jobs and these attributes make The Hills an attractive place for couples to raise their children,” Mayor Keane said.

“Our community is spectacular and it’s all thanks to the wonderful people committed to making our region great.”

The data also reflects a shift in the type of housing options available within The Shire.

While single lot dwellings were the number one choice for families, there has been a small increase in the number of apartments – which now represents 5.7 per cent of total dwelling structures in The Hills.

Terrace houses and townhouses are also on the rise.

Mayor Keane said Council is mindful of its responsibility to get the balance right when planning for the future.

“Currently we are under immense pressure to approve one bedroom studios and units at the minimum size, but our Census information shows that we are predominantly a family region and forecasts tell us that this is not about to change in the future,” Mayor Keane said.

“I’m working hard to ensure sure we are doing everything in our power to create places that not only provide for our future population, but are also truly special and enhance our quality of life.

“More people need to be able to choose to live and raise families in an area of high accessibility and amenity and we are determined to get this right the first time.

“We know another 100,000 people will move to our beautiful Shire in the next 20 years and to prepare for this growth, we are building more sporting fields, we are working with the Department of Education to make school sporting grounds available for community use outside of school hours and we are advocating for bigger-sized apartments for families,” Mayor Keane added.

In October, Council reached an landmark agreement with the NSW Department of Planning that will see more family-friendly sized apartments built as part of the revitalisation of rail corridor precincts.

More than 37,900 households are expected to be added in the next 20 years, and forecasts indicate that at least 62 per cent of these will be family households.

In addition to the 19,610 low and medium density dwellings that will be built in the Hills, approximately 20 per cent (or 3,909) of all future apartments must have three or more bedrooms to ensure there are enough homes for ‘larger’ household types.

Mayor Keane said this was a “win” for current and future residents.

“Getting more three and four bedroom apartments into the mix for The Hills is a superb outcome for young families and empty nesters looking for new alternatives,” Mayor Keane said.

“Good-sized apartment along our railway corridor will offer a new way for people to enjoy the wonderful lifestyle that The Hills is renowned for.

“Getting this policy setting right will not only help deliver housing that is affordable and provide opportunities for young families who wish to embrace apartment living, but also create real alternatives for empty nesters to downsize into a good-sized apartment.

“I’m so proud that our Council is creating a Shire of the future.”

Mayor Keane said she hoped the NSW Department of Planning will implement this policy across the entire Shire.