Sydney home owners hoping to reap huge capital gains on properties situated near the North West rail line could be deprived of their anticipated windfall by council zoning policy.

The value of houses in the Hills district of Sydney were expected to surge by millions amidst plans by developers to bring more high-density apartments to the area, which is situated close to a segment of the new North West rail line.

Developers have been scrambling for opportunities in new zones designated for high density housing ever since the NSW state government launched its vision for the North West rail corridor in September 2013, with plans to build apartments as high as 20 storeys.

The Hills Shire

In order to capitalise on these opportunities home owners in the Hills district formed mini-syndicates for the joint sale of their combined land blocks, enabling them to command prices as much as four times greater than they would have obtained individual properties.

Their plans to cash in on the these development opportunities could soon be scuppered, however, by The Hills Shire Council’s intentions to place strict zoning restrictions upon the development of high density residential properties in the area.

The Council has unveiled The Hills Corridor Strategy, which restricts high density housing to properties within close proximity of stations, while permitting only low-rise developments in other areas.

The strategy’s decision to confine many high-rise developments to council land has drawn particularly strong ire from local stakeholders.

David Dowling, the principal and a director of Ray White Castle Hill, said that the council has essentially “stole[n] Christmas” with its proposal to restrict height levels

“The council has decimated the height everywhere except on council land,” said Dowling. “Some people who thought they’d get 18 storeys on their land will now get only four.”

Local council has defended The Hills Corridor Strategy by noting that the state government’s vision for the north-west corridor was only a strategic framework intended for high-level planning purposes, as opposed to a detailed blueprint.

The council further claims that the creation of too many high-rise apartments in the area would place undue strain upon local infrastructure and facilities.

“Many of the expectations of high density apartments would prove difficulty to adequately service with local roads, parks, playing fields and community facilities,” said Michael Edgar, group manager of strategic planning for the council. “We are trying to start a discussion with the community about what the future suburb will look like in terms of a living environment, its character and amenity.”