Thursday, July 27, 2023

Development of Flood Plains (Extraordinary Council Meeting 13 December 2022)

 C1222(2) Item 19         Notice of Motion: Development of Flood Plains

Motion: (Da Cruz)

That Council:

 1.    Acknowledges the serious risk that flooding presents to communities in an era of changing climate;

2.    Fully supports the measures already incorporated into IWC plans and strategies to protect communities in the Inner West from flooding risks, especially through the diligent application of those measures in planning decisions; and

3.    Not support any planning proposal which has the effect of significantly increasing residential density in mapped flood planning areas.

The Mayor ruled point 3 of the motion out of order as it is inconsistent with the exemptions allowed in the ministerial directions and also ruled points 1 and 2 redundant as council does not need to move a motion to support the measures already incorporated into Inner West Council plans and strategies.

Procedural Motion (Da Cruz/Stamolis)

That a motion of dissent be raised regarding the Chairperson’s ruling.

Motion Lost

For Motion:                 Crs Da Cruz, Langford and Stamolis

Against Motion:          Crs Atkins, Byrne, D'Arienzo, Drury, Griffiths, Howard, Lockie, Scott, Shetty, Smith, Stephens and Tsardoulias

Minutes of Extraordinary Council Meeting held remotely and livestreamed on Council’s website on 13 December 2022


Extraordinary Council Meeting

13 December 2022


Item No:         C1222(2) Item 19

Subject:         Notice of Motion: Development of Flood Plains       

Council Meeting at its meeting on 06 December 2022 resolved that the matter be deferred to the meeting to be held on 13 December 2022.   

From:             Councillor Marghanita Da Cruz  





That Council:


1.   Acknowledges the serious risk that flooding presents to communities in an era of changing climate;


2.   Fully supports the measures already incorporated into IWC plans and strategies to protect communities in the Inner West from flooding risks, especially through the diligent application of those measures in planning decisions; and


3.   Consider planning proposals that are in accordance with the relevant planning legislation regarding resilience and hazards, and that are commensurate with flood behaviour and include consideration of the potential flood impacts both on and off the subject land.




Council has long recognised that flooding represents a significant risk to Inner West residents and communities. Prior to the merger, the former constituent Councils were among the more advanced councils in their flood planning.


The risks posed by floods have increased significantly as a consequence of our changing climate. Council has responded to the threat by making planning for hazards and climate change its No.1 planning priority in our Local Strategic Planning Statement.(1)

A recent, peer reviewed article published in the international journal, Science, looked at 20 year records for Sydney rainfall. It found that dangerous flash flooding was increasing much faster than previously expected.  The abstract states:


Short-duration, extreme rainfall can cause dangerous flash flooding, threatening life, infrastructure and the landscape. Studies of this type of event have focused mainly on daily rain totals, not considering how precipitation might vary on shorter time scales. Ayat et al. analyzed sub-hourly rainfall extremes near Sydney, Australia, over 20 years and found that they are increasing much faster than those over longer periods. Better understanding of such extremes is vital for effective climate adaptation and to reduce the vulnerability of populated regions.(2)


The Sydney Morning Herald reported the findings saying:


Extreme and potentially dangerous bursts of rain have intensified by an “alarming” 40 per cent in Sydney over the past two decades, with climate researchers flagging major implications for how cities deal with flash-flooding and drainage.(3)


The need to take flood risks seriously is reflected at every level of planning.


The Eastern City District Plan states:


Planning for population growth and change needs to consider exposure at a local level as well as cumulative impacts at district and regional levels…..In planning for growth, consideration of natural hazards and cumulative impacts include avoiding locating growth and development in areas exposed to natural hazards and limiting growth in existing communities that are exposed and vulnerable to natural hazards. In exceptional circumstances, there may be a need to reduce the number of people and amount of property that are vulnerable to natural hazards, through managed retreat of development”(4)


The Ministerial Direction under s.9.1(2) of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act  1979 dealing with resilience and hazards, being Direction 4.1  Flooding, provides that:


            (3) A planning proposal must not contain provisions that apply to a flood planning area which:


(a) permit development in floodway areas;

(b) permit development that will result in significant flood impacts to other properties;

(c) permit development for the purpose of residential accommodation in high hazard areas;

(d) permit a significant increase in the development and/or dwelling density of that land…


Council’s own Housing Strategy notes:


Flooding was also considered a constraint. Figure 27 [which shows Council’s flood planning areas] illustrates the locations that are subject to flooding.  While this does not prohibit development in many cases, areas that are subject to flooding may not be suitable for substantial uplift as a result of evacuation requirements.  Similarly, flood impacts may require built form modifications to address risk, which may not optimise urban design outcomes.(5)


Similar restrictions and warnings are found in the Inner West LEP at clause 5.21, in the State Government’s Floodplain Development Manual, in Planning Circular PS 21-006, and in the Report of the 2022 NSW Flood Inquiry, as well as a great many other documents.


However, despite all the well-meaning statements, strategies, plans and polices around the importance of flood planning, it seems that some sections of government (and this Council) are still reluctant to treat the matter with the seriousness and consideration that our plans demand.  Hence this motion to re-emphaise what should be plain to all – that the impacts of climate change are real and that we must treat them seriously, especially in how we plan our area. 



(1)  Inner West Local Strategic Planning Statement March 2020 p.32 Item 1.1.

(2) “Intensification of Subhourly Heavy Rainfall” Hooman Ayat, Jason Evans, Steven Sherwood & Joshua Soderholm, Science Vol 378 No.6620 November 2022.

(3) SMH Extreme rain deluges Intensifying over Sydney, study finds. Michael Koziol 11 November 2022

(4) Eastern City District Plan March 2018 Greater Sydney Commission p.118-119

(5 )Our Inner West Housing Strategy March 2020 p.111


Officer’s Comments:


No further comments were required for this Notice of Motion.




Extraordinary Council Meeting

13 December 2022


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