June 23 - 29, 2013: Issue 116

Warriewood Wetlands - one of Sydney's premier bird habitats. 

 Is the White Paper: A New Planning System for NSW and the Exposure draft legislation already in place??

In recent weeks we have all heard many reports on proposed changes to NSW on a local and state level. The White Paper: A New Planning System for NSW and the Exposure draft legislation alongside the Future Directions for NSW Local Government – Twenty Essential Steps, are set to change NSW.

Some have stated much of this infrastructure and its mechanisms are already in place in NSW Government’s  Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP ) and the widening powers of The NSW Planning Assessment Commission

Some state the proposed NSW Government’s White Paper is simply formalising what is already occurring and that we should look around to see whether or not developers are already taking these powers that be to the extreme.

So we did. And found:

Pittwater Council has received a rezoning application for 2 and 18 Macpherson Street, and 23, 25 and 27 Warriewood Road.

The application seeks to amend the Pittwater Local Environment Plan to increase residential densities above what is currently permitted. The application envisages residential properties at densities of up to 98 dwellings per developable hectare (developable area excludes land within the multi functional creek line corridors).

A strategic planning assessment of the application and all submissions received will be reported to Council. Council will then decide whether or not to support the application and begin the formal process to increase density that will apply to these lands.

Submissions should be in writing and addressed to the General Manager by 5pm on the closing date. (Closing date is July 3rd, 2013)

All documents pertaining to this proposal listed, (as required), At: HERE 

This seems similar to the approved in April 2013 and rubber stamped in June 2013 Stage 2 Oceanvale Development with all documents on the JRPP website (as required) at: HERE 

All Stage 2 Oceanvale DA documents on Pittwater Council’s website (as required) at: http://portal.pittwater.nsw.gov.au/internet/modules/TrackingDA/default.aspx?page=wrapper&key=210772

Some statements in these documents just in case you don't have a day or two spare to wade through them;

Number of dwellings for total development (Stage 1 and 2) far exceeds the maximum number of dwellings set by Council’s LEP and Warriewood Valley Planning Framework 2010. Gross overdevelopment of the area. 

The Concept Approval, as the ‘parent’ approval for the development on this site, permitted a maximum density of 60 dwellings per hectare, and legislative provisions apply such that the approved density overrides Council’s LEP and DCP and the 2010 Framework

DA does not comply with DCP requirement for visitor car spaces (falling short by 28 spaces)

Visitor parking provided as part of Stage 2 complies with Condition 9 of Schedule 3 of the Concept Approval which, consistent with the RTA’s Guide to Traffic Generating Developments, which requires 1 visitor space per 5 dwellings. This condition overrides Council’s DCP control in regard to visitor parking rates

or:

DEPARTMENT’S ASSESSMENT REPORT - On 17 October 2012, the Commission received the Director-General’s Environmental Assessment Report. The report provided a detailed assessment of key issues including:

•Car parking rate applied for two bedroom apartments; and •Extent of reconstruction works to Boondah Road.

The Department received a total of two submissions on the project from Pittwater Council and the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS). Pittwater Council objected to the proposed reduction in car parking and the upgrade of only half of Boondah Road. The RMS did not object to the proposal but suggested that the reduction in car parking spaces should be offset by appropriate public transport infrastructure financed by the proponent.

Proponent

On 1 November 2012, the Commission met with the Proponent to discuss the proposal. The key points raised by the proponent included;

•the reduced car parking rate is in-line with broader strategic objectives of reducing car dependency; •the proposed car parking rate is in-line with RMS guidelines for medium density development; •there is little demand for 2 car parking spaces for two bedroom units; •requiring 2 car parking spaces increases construction costs and unnecessarily reduces housing affordability; •Council’s 2 car parking space requirement is based on 3-4 bed townhouse development rather than residential flat buildings; •a bus route running past the site provides public transport to the City and other areas; •other Council’s in similar areas do not require such high car parking rates; •the proponent is prepared to construct half the road width fronting their site, •Council has in the past only required half width reconstruction of similar roads; and •Council’s Section 94 Contributions should be used to fund the reconstruction of Boondah Road.

Are the phrases ‘Council is obliged to accept it’ and ‘this condition overrides Council’s LEP and DCP’s’ ones we may see often in regard to larger development’s being approved? 

It may seem that residents are already powerless regarding the future development proposals Pittwater will be subject to. With the new Metro strategy coming into place later this year, and replacing the Metropolitan Plan for Sydney to 2036, will the number of dwellings required by Pittwater strengthen the hand of those who would try and work out a way to cram more into less. 

How does Pittwater meet her targets and still retain the inherent beauty of such an area? And why, with 4600 as our target and so many new dwellings going up in Pittwater in recent years has this 4600 not become less? No matter how many go up, this number doesn’t seem to be coming down. Some sources have stated to us it began in the counting stakes from 2004, the most recent document above, proposing 98 dwellings per hectare, clearly states we still are at the 4600 mark. 

Is it all just a big expensive way to let us know what we think we’re getting a say on is actually already occurring and we are ‘obliged to accept it’? 

Certain as this phrasing to any Australian worth their salt is bound to cause a naturally angry reaction and even a little ‘we’ll override you’ going back the other way, one way is to get to have a say, to be able to continue to scrutinise any application, is to insist that you can do just that. How effective any protest past that point will be is a good test of just how democratic NSW may or may not still be. What seems certain is if you don’t speak up you may well be living in a concrete tomb before your demise.

During recent weeks, and numerous discussions, a list of what you should consider to place in your own submissions has accumulated. We share the suggestions here as we, after all, are a mere news service:

The NSW Government’s alarming planning reforms; Do you know...

you will lose your right to comment on development that goes up next door to you or anywhere else in your community?  (You may not even be told until after it’s been approved and the bulldozers start work); economic growth will be the main driver for planning and development decisions in our state, at the expense of environmental and social concerns?; protection for our environment and heritage will be severely reduced.

OUTLINE OF KEY ISSUES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND COMMUNITIES

I do not support the Government’s White Paper and draft Planning Bill. In particular, I have significant concerns with the proposals outlined in the White Paper and urge the Government to address these concerns before the Planning Bill is introduced into Parliament:

Ecologically Sustainable Development

1. I do not support the removal of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) from the NSW Planning System. Decision makers must be required to exercise their functions under the planning system in accordance with the established principles of ESD. 

Community Participation 

2. The Community Participation Charter must be supported by precise and enforceable legislative provisions for community participation in the draft Planning Bill. The provisions must establish community participation requirements at each stage of the planning process, including the development assessment stage.

Strategic Planning

3. The strategic planning principles in the draft Planning Bill should establish clear outcomes-based objectives for achieving environmental and social outcomes. It is not  enough to simply have regard to environmental and social considerations; the planning system must establish outcomes-based environmental and social objectives (for example, maintain and improve water quality and catchment health to identify and protect environmentally sensitive areas) in order to effectively protect the environment and people’s way of life.

4. Existing environmental protections must be carried over into the new system. Environmental protections in existing planning instruments and policies are based on  decades of research and experience, and these important protections must not be weakened or lost in the transfer to the new system.

5. The Government must confirm its support for evidence based strategic planning by ensuring that there is a consistent and reliable base data set across NSW, and making this available to all users of the NSW Planning System.

6. I do not support proposals to reduce the number of environment zones under the new planning system. Environment protection zones, as part of existing Local Environment Plans, have provided fundamental protection for our natural areas in NSW for nearly 30 years, and their continued use is necessary for the conservation and management of environmental values.

7. I do not support the proposal to introduce strategic compatibility certificates. It is not appropriate to allow developers to override existing planning controls while strategic plans and local plans are being developed under the new system.

8. I do not support the proposed composition of subregional planning boards. The proposal to include up to four representatives and an independent chair appointed by  the Minister does not return planning powers to the community. Further, the provisions of the draft Planning Administration Bill must ensure that persons with appropriate expertise in ecology, conservation and natural resource management are on each board.

Development Assessment

9. I do not support the proposal that 80% of all development in NSW will be determined as complying or code assessment development, with limited environmental assessment and no community consultation. Complying and code assessment should only be available for those types of development that are genuinely low impact.

10. The new planning system must prescribe clear and objective criteria for decision making, including clear criteria for merit assessment. Continued use of broad discretionary powers will continue to breed community distrust in the NSW planning system.

11. I am encouraged by efforts to improve the quality of environmental impact statements, including proposals to strengthen the offence relating to false and  misleading information. The Government should commit to introducing a scheme for accreditation and independent appointment of environmental consultants. 

Transparency and Accountability

12. I do not support provisions that seek to prevent judicial review proceedings to remedy unlawful decisions made under the planning legislation. Further, I do not support  provisions that retain restrictions to third party merit appeal proceedings. Such provisions override judicial oversight of planning decisions, and are contrary to Government statements about improving accountability and transparency in the NSW planning system.

Documents of your submissions must be received by June 28th, 2013 

Online: HERE 

Or post to: Post your submission to New Planning System, GPO Box 39, Sydney NSW 2001