February 20 - 26, 2022: Issue 527


Residents state Newport development approval is a death certificate for Robertson Road Community Space possibilities

Robertson Road, Newport: The semi-mature 14.4m Corymbia citriodora (Lemon Scented Gum) located on council property to the right and up Robertson road, the sole remaining species on that side of the road, although not listed as an exempt species by council, has been approved for destruction to facilitate this development based on information submitted by the applicant. Corymbia citriodora is a tall smooth-barked gum with strongly lemon-scented leaves. It has a symmetrical spreading canopy of sparse foliage. Due to its straight growth Corymbia citriodora forms a strong structural timber that is used for beams, bridges, poles, containers, flooring and tool-handles. Its flowers are important for honey production. It is tolerant of a range of soils but grows best on sandy loam or well-drained gravels. a 19m tree of this variety has a medium Useful Life Expectancy (ULE) of approximately 15-40 years. The Downing Herbarium, Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University North Ryde, has a wonderful stand of these trees; those were planted in 1968.   This tree is growing where the entrance for the basement car park will be.
On December 15 2021 the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel heard from residents seeking modifications for the then proposed development of a site at 351-353 Barrenjoey Road Newport, on the corner of Robertson road. 

Newly  elected Councillor Michael Gencher spoke first, stating;

''This is what I see here; an inappropriate overdevelopment from the point of view of the community standpoint, once again a development favouring the developer over the community. The acceptance of this DA is in contravention to the Newport Master Plan and the Shape 2028 – specifically Goal 8 Point C which is to collaborate with the community in the design of vibrant open spaces. Here we have a community-led initiative, a campaign to deliver exactly what Shape 2028 is calling for, and in so doing is really doing the job of council and then finding they’re being dudded by the very same council by following that strategic plan. You only have to look at Newport and the vacant shops along Barrenjoey road – yes; Covid has been tough on business but that’s not the only reason. Newport needs all possible consideration for a potential community hub on Robertson road to proceed and essentially the acceptance of this DA and the allowance for vehicle movements on Robertson road stops this community led initiative cold in its tracks.It essentially finishes.

This DA does not meet every single requirement set out in the Master Plan (for Newport) and it also proceeds with 34 less parking spots then the previous application. I have to raise the serious questions as to why the developer is permitted to depart from the maximum height set out in the development standards. 

Throughout the campaign I ran I was told we need to manage the expectations of community members and groups and so again I find we’re only managing the expectations of developers and even exceeding their expectations once again. The community deserves better. The community overwhelmingly opposes this development and I truly urge this panel to reject this development application.''

Newport resident Simon Barlow, who led the Save Roberston Road community group initiative, stated;

''There is not one element in this DA that suits Robertson road or our precious Newport. There is nothing in the proposed bulk of the building, its lack of aesthetic or amenity that will contribute to our village or community. With due respect to the applicant and his architect, they have addressed requirements according to the council staff who have assessed the application but they have by no means satisfied the Newport community who will be living with this development, if it proceeds, for the next century. 

This site is one of only four blocks that front onto Robertson road, arguably the most important street off Barrenjoey road in Newport. Robertson road provides the last opportunity for a well planned hub to serve as a business and community heart for the village. This poorly panned application is similar to several recent development proposals on Robertson road that have proved to be disastrous for their inability to activate the street frontage that they occupy. This development would disastrously affect future plans for Robertson road. 

At the top of the list of the many disagreeable elements of this plan is the car park entrance on Robertson road, which will remove the ability to close the street for events and gatherings. The proposed condition 37 which allows for access to Foamcrest avenue in the future comes with no guarantee (that this will occur). For instance the Australia Post site could be envisioned as an open community area in the future and thus the condition should carry no favourable weight.

Corner of Foamcrest avenue and Robertson road looking eats - Aus. Post site on corner to left

''I ask the panel if you have made yourselves completely aware of the level of community opposition to this development and our engagement with local and state government over the last 10 months. Have you spent time in Robertson road and canvassed the business owners and residents? Have you considered the alternatives being discussed? If you have you would appreciate the affection this community has for Robertson road and the expectations we have for its future. If you have you would also understand how incompatible this application is with those expectations. We do not have to be town planners, we love here, we understand the dynamics. In the last 10 months since this application was lodged, and in addition to the 419 submissions, over 1300 local residents responded to survey run by us campaign organisers focussed on Robertson road, a copy of which you have been forwarded. The results cannot be ignored and they speak for themselves.

''This DA has been designed by non-residents and is being decided by non-residents. However it is the residents who will be living with this application for the next century. If the community sentiment is ignore through this process it will not only have long lasting consequences for the heart of Newport, for the residents it will reinforce the growing perception that public advocacy and consultation is pointless.''

''Our greatest motivation to Save Robertson Road and precinct should come from the mistakes already made. Terrible planning decisions that have had poor outcomes for Newport. These pictures represent 'dead zones', frontages on to Barrenjoey Rd that cannot be activated - where interesting shops or restaurants could create foot traffic and interaction''. - Simon Barlow, January 2022

Robertson Road in December 2021. Photos: Simon Barlow;

Wendy Dunnet said ''I’m obviously not a planner but I am a concerned local resident and here as Secretary of the Newport Residents Association. As of 11am this morning there have been 125 submissions lodged with council against this (modified) DA, and that is not counting any of the previous submissions sent to council. Also at that time with had 1,245 signatures on a Change.org petition that was set up by a retailer in Robertson road as recently as Monday (14th Dec, 2021) – now 1258.  An amazing result and example of community regard.

We are astounded that council would recommend this DA be approved. You have read the assessment and the submissions so will be well aware of various breaches to the Newport Master Plan, including but not limited to the height, bulk, scale and vehicle entry. 

Robertson road presents the most amazing opportunity for people who live here to enjoy. The council talks at length about placemaking. This is not about placemaking – this is about in perpetuity, making a town planning decision that will be a disaster. To support a height variation of between 10-30% is not even contemplatable. Taking out one floor of parking means, as per the Traffic Report, a loss of 20 car spaces – this does not appear to include retail requirements or visitors spaces. Cars that will have to be parked somewhere. Please tell us if the developer would then be paying a section 94 contribution of at least $100,000.00 per car space so that the community is not encumbered with the problem of additional parking on our streets. 

Simon notes the council condition that will require … to facilitate future access through 31 Foamcrest Avenue… at a time when that site is to redeveloped; what guarantee is there that it will be redeveloped and what control does council have?

Each one of these breaches may not seem significant to you or council – but they will set a precedent that will impact Newport village forever, this will mean that the Newport Master Plan and the DCP are irrelevant. That is totally unacceptable to the Newport Community.

If you approve this DA it’s making a mockery of the Northern Beaches building codes and it destroys our village centre. It does not contribute to the Newport town centre because it is such an overdevelopment of the site. We need time for to develop an even better plan for the heart of Newport that would benefit everyone. Please do not approve this DA. Thank you.''

James Ricketson stated;

''I think that one of the things Covid has made us realise is that we are social beings that need to be with other people. If you look at the history of civilisation all of these towns and villages have had a town square where people in the community could meet, talk, play, debate important topics of the day. These have been really important places where everybody can feel connected to everyone else in the community – these places tend to be the glue that holds the community together. Having lived for 54 years on the peninsula and seen what was once a village in Dee Why disappear and having visited Robertson road over many years and seen it grow into the little community hub that it is, and realising there is no other place in Newport for this to be if we lose that hub, I wonder why the notion of putting up a building that will make it impossible for that hub to exist is being considered. I also wonder, given the over 700 people who wish to speak on this, why only 5 of us have been chosen and only given 3 minutes each to speak on this, so 15 minutes all up to argue against a building being more important than a whole community. 

My argument is not to do with development applications and procedures, it has to do with the fabric of our society and the need for there to be places like Robertson road for the mental and emotional wellbeing of the community. Another thing Covid has taught us is that a lot of people do suffer badly form being isolated and the more cases like Robertson road, where people can gather, the better.''

However, on Tuesday, February 15th, it was announced that the DA had been approved by the NBLPP, having been earlier recommended for approval by Northern Beaches Council staff.

The council staff, and the four member panel of the NBLPP, are simply following the requirements clearly articulated for them.

The intention to override the 20+ years work on a vision for Newport, was introduced in the required ‘Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy’, wherein ‘’ Low to medium density housing will be investigated in the one kilometre radius around other local centres including Avalon, Newport, Warriewood, Terrey Hills, Belrose, Forestville, Beacon Hill, Freshwater, Balgowlah and Manly‘’. This has now been passed, as recommended by council staff to councillors, and is one of those instruments.

The council recommending approval to the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel, and the same, as stated ‘on behalf of Northern Beaches Council’, approving a development is stated in the panels decision as;

"the proposed development will be in the public interest because it is consistent with the objectives of the standards and the objectives for development within the zone in which the development is proposed to be carried out."

This section of Newport, even under Pittwater Council's LEP 2014, has seen the growth of shop-top housing along its main strip.

The ‘variations’ spoken of above in the development have been given approval to proceed as this same ‘within the zone’ allows these to proceed, as despite 'Under Clause 4.6 (4)(b) (Concurrence of the Secretary) assessment requires the concurrence of the Secretary to be obtained in order for development consent to be granted,'  Planning Circular PS20-002 dated May 5th 2020, as issued by the NSW Department of Planning, advises that the concurrence of the Secretary may be assumed for exceptions to development standards under environmental planning instruments that adopt Clause 4.6 of the Standard Instrument. In this regard, and given the consistency of the variation to the objectives of the zone, the concurrence of the Secretary for the variation to the Height of buildings Development Standard is assumed by the Local Planning Panel.

The NSW Government made local planning panels mandatory for all Councils in the Greater Sydney region and Wollongong City Council. On August 10th 2017 the Environmental Planning and Assessment and Electoral Legislation Amendment (Planning Panels and Enforcement) Bill 2017 was passed by NSW Parliament and assented to on August 14th 2017. 

Under the amended Environmental and Planning and Assessment Act 1979 councillors on NSW councils that have a local planning panel were no longer to be able to act as a consent authority for Part 4 development (that is, most development in NSW that usually requires council consent). Instead, the functions were to be exercisable on behalf of the council by:

  1. the new local planning panels;
  2. an officer or employee of the council to whom the power has been delegated; or
  3. a regional panel.

The Minister may make directions that certain development applications are to be determined solely by a local planning panel. The NSW Government, then, indicated that this will involve contentious development, development that involve the interests of elected officials or development that involves significant capital investment value. From March 1st 2018 these Panels were to be known as Local Planning Panels (LPP).

The Local Planning Panels Fact sheet (NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, May 2021) states a local planning panel consists of four members: a chair, two independent expert members and a community representative. If a council is required to constitute a local planning panel, it must appoint chairs and independent expert members approved by the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces (Minister).

Mayors, councillors, property developers and real estate agents are not eligible for appointment to local planning panels.

When announcing these it was stated they were about ensuring the cases of corruption that had clearly taken place in local government via some developments and developers could not occur anymore and that the community's voice would be part of the engagement. Increasingly the perception that these have eroded any democratic voice in development proposals has become the experience, across Sydney.

Northern Beaches Council has two external panels, being the Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel (NBLPP) and the Sydney North Planning Panel (SNPP). The internal determination panel is known as the Development Determination Panel (DDP).

The Council is currently preparing a new Local Environmental Plan. The development standards for both height and floor space ratio will be reviewed, and the review will consider the extent and circumstances in which the existing development standards have been varied by the use of clause 4.6.

The following applications had a Clause 4.6 variation request granted during the period of October 1 2021 to 31 December 31 2021:

DA2021/1231 1A Florida Road PALM BEACH NSW 2108 Residential - Alterations and additions – deck and extension to roof 4.3 Height of buildings Variation: 33.8% Control: 8.5m Proposal: 11.37m (existing dwelling doesn’t comply with height control) – granted by DDP

DA2021/1448 106 Prince Alfred Parade NEWPORT NSW 2106 Residential - Alterations and additions -boat shed 4.3 Height of buildings Variation: 19.53% Control: 8.5m Proposal: 10.16m (existing dwelling does not comply with the height control and the DA proposed to reduce the overall height of existing dwelling by 1.34m) – granted by DDP

DA2021/2087 156 Whale Beach Road WHALE BEACH NSW 2107 Residential - Alterations and additions (steel framed pergola over existing terrace) 4.3 Height of buildings Variation: 13.6% Control: 8.5m Proposal: 9.6m – granted by DDP

The Northern Beaches Local Planning Panel Members are remunerated for attending panel meetings consistent with the remuneration determination for local planning panels approved by the Minister for Planning. This document states what these fees were in 2018, per meeting.

The councils are required to pay these fees, or, more accurately, the ratepayers are meeting the costs.

Newport's latest DA approval, opposed by around 15% of the total adult population of the suburb, requires a Right of Access (through-site vehicle link). The right of access (under the provisions of Section 88B of the Conveyancing Act) is to be created to ensure a through-site vehicle access to 355 Barrenjoey Road Newport to allow for the, as it is termed, reasonable development of that adjacent site, meaning the development sets the stage for not only increased but permanently increased traffic along Robertson road. 

The development is for demolition of the existing structures on the three lots associated and construction of a three storey (above ground) shop top housing development containing 8 retail shops and 13 Residential units. Originally the proposal was for two levels of basement with 54 car parking spaces; construction of a three storey shop top housing development comprising 9 ground floor retail units and 14 residential apartments with a roof terrace. Now just 26 built car spaces below ground have been 'supported' by council staff and approved by the NBLPP.

When taking out the whole extra basement level was progressed one Newport resident stated; ‘’the assessment of this development application has not followed due process as a significant amendment, the removal of a whole level, has been made and the application not re-notified.’’

This comment refers to the 'retrigger' modifications usually reset. This too is changing though, with the new planning rules that will come into effect on March 1st, 2022. At present, whenever the consent authority agrees to allow an amendment to the application, the ‘clock’ on the 41 or 61 days benchmark it usually takes council's to determine DA's is reset to zero. From March 1st, the clock will only be-reset if the consent authority:

  • considers the amendment is not minor; and
  • notifies the applicant, by the NSW Planning Portal, that the lodgement date for the application is now taken to be the date on which the application for the amendment was made

If you want to find out more about the 43 SEPP's being repealed Tuesday week, a great overview by Aaron Gadiel, Partner at Mills Oakley, ''New planning rules, new protocols for applications'' was published this month. Holding Redlich's Peter Holt's ''Lost in transition – Consolidation of NSW State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPPs) may cause problems'' is good reading too.

In October 2021 the Council’s officer penned the council's Traffic Engineer Referral Response to the updated plan of reducing the basement level from 2 to 1 and reducing the parking provision from 52 to 26. The Council’s Traffic Engineer supported the plan even though the allocation of spaces had not been confirmed as a part of the documentation provided.

It was, however, noted that to achieve the required precinct outcome for Robertson Road all parking provided within the subject site was to be allocated for the residential component of the development, including residential visitors only – and all the commercial parking will be provided within the overall Newport Village precinct. It was also noted that ‘this will result in a deficiency of approximately 20 spaces (although there is not this number provided for the existing commercial usage of the site)’. This document also states there are 20 parking spaces provided for the retail component of the development making this a true Tardis of an underground carpark in little old Newport.

The amended plans, made available to through the exhibition of DA's requirements to the public on November 23rd, 2021, with one basement level, show 16 car park spaces for the units, 1 for a visitor, and 9 for the retail spaces. If all those 26 bedrooms have two people in them and they all have a car, 36 extra parking spaces will need to be found on the street for the residential component. Retail floor space has a requirement of 1 space per 30m², meaning at least one car space for each of the 8 shops is required, a 9th in one case. 

The cost of the works is listed as $ 7,055,446. The median house price for Newport, as of February 1st, 2022, is $3,142,500, up 49.1% annually. For units it’s $720, 000.00 for 1 bedroom, $1,210,000.00 for 2 bedrooms and $1,950,000.00 for a 3 bedroom unit, so a potential profit of 20 million+ for this development before you count the 8 retail shops. 

Development Link Pty Ltd, who specialise in medium to high density residential builds, are the proponents. The Palms, Newport at 316-324 Barrenjoey Rd, Newport and Seaview Residences at 3 Seaview Ave, Newport, are completed in 2018 projects by the same proponents. Havana, Dee Why at 8 Oaks Ave Dee Why, consisting of 79 apartments and 12 shops, is another Development Link project, as are others in our area over a few years. The council would still have all the DA's formerly supported and approved on file, for those interested, on the council's DA applications search function.

The project documents originally listed that Demolition is anticipated to take 2 months, Excavation works 3 months and Construction 13 Months; so a year and a half of Robertson road being effectively a construction zone given the site is on the corner and along the northern side of the road.

Anyone living near a construction site in the urban area also knows, that despite requirements for DA approvals where works vehicles are required to be parked on site, roads often ended up choked with tradies vehicles when the gamut of builders, tilers, electricians and other larger vehicles, such as trucks associated with the stages of work, descend on a site and the thoroughfares to it.

For this construction the usual traffic report was required which anticipates that for the Demolition Phase the largest truck size will be up to 8.8m in length and there will be up to 40 on peak days (20 in and 20 out). During the Excavation Phase the largest truck size will be up to 8.8m in length with projected daily vehicle movements of 60 on peak days (30 in and 30 out). During the Construction Phase the largest truck size will be up to 12.5m in length with daily vehicle movements (General Deliveries) of up to 10 on peak days (5 in and 5 out) while during the Concrete Pour it is anticipated there will be 40-60 trucks per pour.

As one of the basement levels has now been deleted from the plans this should lessen the time frame and rate of trucks during the excavation phase. 

The Approach Route for this traffic will be northbound along Barrenjoey Road, turn left onto Robertson Road and then turn right onto the site in a forward-facing direction. The Departure Route is to be a forward-facing direction to exit the site and then turn right onto Robertson Road, turn left onto Foamcrest Avenue, turn left onto Seaview Avenue and then turn onto Barrenjoey Road. So the back roads of Newport will be privy to the 18 months of trucks and associated vehicles too.

The traffic management plan states it will minimise construction related traffic movements during school peak periods

On February 11th the NSW Department of Planning announced an extension of ‘emergency construction hours’ until March 31st 2022, allowing construction sites to operate on weekends without the need for prior planning approval.

This change first took effect on June 11th 2021 and was issued by the NSW State Minister for Planning and Public Spaces under an Order called the Environmental Planning and Assessment (COVID-19 Development – Construction Work Days) Order (No.2) 2021

This latest Order sets out the limitation for building work to be performed on weekends without the need for any approval under the Act if it complies with the conditions specified for the development.

The Order permits ‘building work’ or ‘work’, or the ‘demolition’ of a ‘building’, (as these terms are defined in the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW)) on a Saturday between the hours of 7am and 5pm. The Order also permits the following works and activities to be carried out on a Sunday between the hours of 9am and 5pm:

  • professional and administrative activities which do not involve any physical construction works;
  • painting;
  • wall and floor tiling;
  • waterproofing;
  • silicone work (sealing);
  • builders clean (excluding site clearing by use of bobcats or similar machinery);
  • carpet laying;
  • prefabricated joinery installation; and
  • any other works occurring indoors which do not produce substantial noise.

The works must be the subject of a development consent, and must comply with all conditions of the consent (except to the extent the consent restricts the hours of work or operation on a Saturday or a Sunday). Additionally, all feasible and reasonable measures to minimise noise must be taken. Works carried out on a Saturday must not involve rock breaking, rock hammering, sheet piling, pile driving or similar activities (except to the extent that this was already allowed under the development consent). For works carried out on a Sunday, workers must not play music or use a radio, and must not use certain noisy tools or equipment (including nail guns and electric power tools).

Minister for Planning and Minister for Homes Anthony Roberts said it’s vitally important we all support the construction industry and the 340,000 jobs it supports.

“Construction continues to play a crucial role in our state by contributing around $47 billion each year to the economy, and supporting communities by, keeping people in jobs delivering new homes and community facilities,” Mr. Roberts said. “These changes will help us keep shovels in the ground to deliver new homes, jobs and great public spaces and keep the economy moving.”

Treasurer Matt Kean said the measures were aimed at supporting some of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and designed to keep the economic wheels turning during the Omicron wave of the pandemic.

“We know that some retailers have struggled to get supplies and that impacts what people see on the shelves,” Mr Kean said. “We are changing the rules to make it easier for businesses to get those critical supplies – 24 hours a day in business and industrial areas.

“We’ve already changed the rules to let diners onto the footpaths and public spaces and now we’re extending measures to let pubs and restaurants use privately owned car parks and open space until 30 June (2022).”

No such luck for Robertson road though – even the businesses already operating are likely to be impacted by the now passed building works with demolitions that bring noise, dust and tradies vehicles and trucks set to rumble through the morning latte previously being sipped on a quiet off the main thoroughfare street. How many will survive this, projected, 18 months build? Any?

Why the entrance driveway couldn’t be on the main road, as has occurred for other structures along this thoroughfare, never seemed to come up. Moving the now approved driveway access down Roberston road and closer to the main road would have presented safety issues in having it closer to the pedestrian crossing already in place. As Robertson road is one way, all vehicles will be directed towards Foamcrest avenue.

The streetscapes of Pittwater have always been changing, the pristine bush has given way to simple huts then fibro shacks thence to American influenced Arts and Craft bungalows with the odd ‘working with the environment’ example among these;  The Stella James House / Walter Burley Griffin Lodge on the Avalon-Bilgola Plateau verge and on Plateau road itself in 1934 for Stella Florance James being one great early  example.

Even in recent decades Pittwater was traditionally a place where housing that flows in with the landscape and is sympathetic to the aesthetics of the place, producing unique and prize winning architectural designs that are about celebrating place in the landscape and connecting to this. 

In recent years filling the block with massive amounts of concrete and exceeding the height limit has become the norm, whether this is done under the auspices of ‘seniors housing’ or as licensed to by the Greater Sydney Plan and the comprehensive roll out of planning changes. These structures are about imposing atop a community huge vaulting concrete and glass statements built to maximise capacity on a block where the main aim is to distribute profits to shareholders. 

With only a limited number of sites available in a peninsula with a narrow width and only one road in and out, and property experts already forecasting increased demand in 2022, the trend is set to continue as this is a boon for development companies and is backed up and forwarded by local and state government.

The limitation of old sites to redevelop is seeing a 1950’s-1960’s raze the place resurgence as well.

Last week it became apparent that former bush sites grabbed up under the overdue Land Rights Act have also gone onto the list slated for development by the incumbent government. This, opponents state, signals an intention to make thousands of hectares of land across the state similarly listed, particularly where it is a green fringe of an urban area where wildlife lives, available for humans. 

Ultimately the dismantling of democracy that commenced with the forced amalgamation of Pittwater Council back into Warringah is facilitating the ignoring a local voice focussed on maintaining community and community connections and developing and looking after these spaces in a responsible manner.

Even if the community did manage to stand up for itself and demand the reinstatement of a council that epitomised community connection and conversations, a series of modifications to planning rules would also have to be met by that council or see it overridden by state government planning changes when it did not do so. 

On December 15th it was announced there are now 'New planning rules to unlock more homes'.

That statement reads:

Newly-elected councils will have clear performance benchmarks to meet in delivering planning decisions under reforms released today to create jobs, boost housing supply and attract investment.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said councils would be required to adhere to clear maximum timeframes for assessments and determinations.

“The NSW Government sets its own strict benchmarks for assessing rezonings and development applications to ensure timeliness and certainty, and we are now asking councils to do the same,” Mr Stokes said.

“Decisions can be tough to make, but we’re putting the onus on developers and councils to work together so there is sufficient information available to make confident and timely determinations.”

The Environmental Planning and Assessment (Statement of Expectations) Order and reserves the right for the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces to intervene where councils are not upholding their responsibilities.

The Government has also released a discussion paper on improvements to the rezoning process, which support prompt decision-making, more informed community consultation, and risk-based approaches to assessments, timeframes and fees.

“Planning delays increase housing costs and prevent new housing supply from being delivered in a timely manner. Our new planning guarantee will give the housing industry confidence that assessment timelines will be achieved,” Mr Stokes said.

“Last year we cleared 336 rezoning proposals through the system, paving the way for nearly 34,000 jobs and more than 40,000 homes. These draft reforms will go a step further by reducing timelines by up to a year for standard applications.”

In the interim, a new guideline has also come into effect to better explain the rezoning process and introduce new practices to immediately improve the system, including earlier engagement and categorising proposals based on their complexity.

For more information and to give feedback on rezoning reforms, visit planning.nsw.gov.au/rezoning-review.  

The reforms include new ways to:

  • cut the time it takes to process a proposal to change planning rules by a third by 2023
  • establish an appeals pathway for planning proposals to overcome delays and progress rezonings that are consistent with strategic plans.

The community has been invited to 'have its say' until February 28th 2022 even though Newport’s experience would indicate your say is not relevant in the terms you may think and it’s possibly just a bit of proofreading to ensure the commas are in the right place you’re being asked to check. Nevertheless, it's at: https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/rezoning-new-approach 

On November 26th 2021, the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces signed the Environmental Planning and Assessment (Statement of Expectations) Order 2021 (Order)

Some of the key expectations in that include:

  • 250 days to prepare assessment reports for regionally significant development applications and refer them to Regional Panels,
  • 180 days to determine a development application,
  • 90 days to make a decision as to whether to support or not support a proponent led planning proposal (rezoning) and submit it for a Gateway determination if supported,
  • preparing and review Local Strategic Planning Statements, and
  • amending local planning rules to reflect regional, district and local strategic plans.

This, too, was announced on December 15th 2021.

The DA for 351-353 Barrenjoey road approved by the Northern Beaches Planning Panel, having been earlier recommended for approval by the Northern Beaches Council, confirms medium density is being rolled out across Newport’s thoroughfare and for up to 1 kilometre surrounding that centre. 

It also signals developers aims are progressed over those who must live with their product. 

Mature old trees are being removed and short shrubs put in their place. Ugly concrete blocks of concrete and a bit of glass impose themselves and their shadows to the rim edge of pavements and overshadow the once sunny streets.

In a community that will fight for a single tree, a revolution may be brewing. Pittwaterians are polite and laid-back - but not that polite and laid-back when what is valued here is threatened.

Newport being robbed of its street 'village green' also confirms what was lost when Pittwater Council was forcibly amalgamated back into where it had only just escaped from and continues the ‘under administration’ roll out of ignoring any community opposition or aspirations to be connected to each other in a place where they may live, work and play.

All this may be viewed as that described in the ancient terms as Hindrance; ‘Thus the way of the small man appears increasing, and that of the superior man decreasing*’. 

Money rules in this ever-expanding all-concrete jungle, benefiting developers over residents and ensuring our children must join the throngs pushing outwards in ever increasing cheek by jowl little ‘affordable’ boxes built on the extinction of what once also lived there if they wish to have a home.

Or as one of the thousands who opposed the scale and ideas within this now passed development said this week;

‘Say goodbye to Robertson Road as you know it, or would like it to be…’

To be followed, through what’s already been ‘rezoned’ by the council and state government, with ‘say goodbye to Newport as you know it, or would like it to be’.

* This derives from the I Ching wherein the term "small man" means 小人, although it actually means a petty or mean-spirited person, of either gender. The term "superior man" means君子, and indicates a person of virtue (in the Confucian sense of the term), regardless of gender. In other words, the terms "small" and "superior" refer to the moral and ethical stature and not the physical size of a person. Similarly, the terms "man" or "men" usually refer to person(s)/human(s) and are not indicative of gender.