June 17 - 23, 2018: Issue 364

Sydney North Planning Panel's First Determination: for Pittwater LEP to be  Amended to facilitate crystal bay Seniors Housing Development to proceed to gateway + Change E4 Zone to R2 for all adjacent blocks of land  

Crystal Bay, Newport - A J Guesdon photo

The Sydney North Planning Panel chaired by appointed ex-Liberal Party Leader Peter Debnam made its first Determination regarding a proposal that seeks to amend the Pittwater Local Environmental Plan 2014 to allow Seniors Housing as an additional permitted  development. The Panel Determined the proposal should Proceed to Gateway 'because the proposal has demonstrated strategic and site specific merit'. 

Additionally the SNPP has stated in the Record of Decision that;

…the Panel does consider that the zoning of the land E4 is unjustified and that R2 zoning would be more appropriate. Accordingly, the Panel recommends to the Delegate that the land from Bardo Road northward along Nooal Street up to Irrubel road currently zoned E4 be investigated and re-zoned R2 which would allow the proposed use as well as other suitable uses such as dual occupancy. The planning proposal should therefore be revised to reflect the above before it is exhibited.’

Under the January 2018 announcement of the new planning panels; 'The panels also act as the relevant planning authority in some decisions when directed by the Minister for Planning or the Greater Sydney Commission, undertake rezoning reviews and provide advice on planning and development matters when requested'

The Proposal is for 8 x 2 bedroom units over three properties, 66 Bardo Road, which last sold around 15 years ago, 4 Nooal Street, which sold on May 24th, 2011 and 2 Nooal Street, which was purchased by the proponent on the 14th of August 2014.

In the Cover Letter and Rezoning Review Request provided to the Panel it is stated 'We confirm that No’s 2 and 4 Nooal Street, Newport were purchased by their current owner prior to the gazettal of Pittwater Local Environmental Plan 2014 (PLEP 2014) with the intention of developing the land for the purpose of seniors housing.'

Under the heading ‘Greater Sydney Region Plan’ it is stated that ‘The Plan was not considered in the proposal, which predated the plan’. This is also not correct. 

The Proposal was submitted in 2017 after the Regional Plan was first exhibited in 2016. The Regional Plan was revised after the Proposal was submitted however it did not substantially differ. The Proposal did not consider this relevant plan at all, instead relying on the withdrawn Metropolitan Plan for Sydney 2036 (2010). 

Council has also noted similar incorrect statements under the ‘North District Plan’ sections wherein it states “…the planning proposal only references the Revised Draft North District Plan as it predated the plan…” 

The Planning Proposal submitted by the Proponent never referenced either the Draft North District Plan (2016) which was exhibited before the Proposal was lodged with Council, or the Revised North District Plan (2017) which was exhibited after lodgement. 

The applicant appears to be providing justification (for the proposal) against the Revised North District Plan with an amended Planning Proposal lodged with the Rezoning Review request via a ‘Cover Letter’. 

The Pittwater Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2014 came into effect on 27 June 2014. The LEP was intended as a translation of the provisions of the Pittwater LEP 1993 into the NSW Government's Standard Instrument—Principal Local Environmental Plan (Standard Instrument). 

The 2014 LEP changes went through an extensive research, investigation and public exhibition process commencing in early 2013. 

The first objective of the E4 Environmental Living zone is:

  • To provide for low-impact residential development in areas with special ecological, scientific or aesthetic value.

Every residential property that fronts the Pittwater Waterway is zoned E4 Environmental Living on the basis of aesthetic value. 

The Panel appear to have taken it upon themselves to arbitrarily dismiss this and make a decision which sets a precedent that will undermine the consistency and integrity of this zone and all it sets out to achieve.

The Panel are also ignoring the newly published North District Plan which states that "Councils are in the best position to investigate and confirm which parts of their local government areas are suited to additional medium density opportunities". 

The Panel are seemingly attempting to step into the role of Council, even though the long term of 'under administration' has expired and the current Council is on track to achieve the housing target set at state level. 

The demand for seniors housing is recognised, however, there are literally hundreds of other sites within the northern beaches where seniors housing is permitted. These sites can yield thousands of seniors housing apartments. 

Most worryingly is the Panel's decision that the proposal be revised and significantly expanded so that the subject properties and 13 additional properties, that were not the subject of the original planning proposal, be rezoned from E4 Environmental Living to R2 Low Density Residential.

In making this decision, the Panel are in breach of the Planning Panel Operational Procedures which state as follows:.

The Panel’s determination should provide a clear decision on whether the planning proposal before it proceed, or not proceed, for a gateway determination rather than recommending improvements’.

As no 'when directed by the Minister for Planning or the Greater Sydney Commission, undertake rezoning review' was in place, a bit of overreach may be interpreted.

Additionally the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) (SEPP (HSPD) contains site related requirements that include the need for a site to be within 400m of a bus stop. 

The nearest is, according to the proponent for the proposal, 390 to 393 metres away on Gladstone street. However, all of the additional sites are beyond 400m from the nearest bus stop. 

It is expected council will approach the Minister for Planning for a review of the decision made on May 2nd, 2018. 

Crystal Bay Australian Wood ducklings - the bay is a nursery to many local waterbirds each Spring

At the meeting of 28 November, 2017 Council resolved that:

A.Council does not submit the Planning Proposal lodged for 2-4 Nooal Street and 66 Bardo Road, Newport for a Gateway Determination for the following reasons:

  • It is inconsistent with the Pittwater Local Planning Strategy (2011).
  • It does not have strategic merit or site specific merit when assessed in accordance with the NSW Planning & Environment’s Planning Proposal: A guide to preparing planning proposal (2016).
  • It does not align with the goals and targets of the Revised Draft North District Plan.
  • It is inconsistent with the following State Environmental Planning Policies;

i. Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability 

ii.Coastal Protection

iii.Draft Coastal Management.

  • It is inconsistent with the following Local Planning Directions;

i. 2.1 – Environmental Protection Zones

ii. 4.3 – Flood Prone Land

iii.7.1 – Implementation of the Metropolitan Strategy

iv.Draft Coastal Management Local Planning Direction.

  • It is inconsistent with the objectives of the E4 Environmental Living zone in Pittwater LEP 2014.
  • It seeks to permit medium density residential development that is inconsistent with the established low density character of the area.
  • It would set an unacceptable precedent.

Pittwater Local Environmental Plan 2014 under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979:

Zone R2 Low Density Residential

1 Objectives of zone

  • To provide for the housing needs of the community within a low density residential environment.
  • To enable other land uses that provide facilities or services to meet the day to day needs of residents.
  • To provide for a limited range of other land uses of a low intensity and scale, compatible with surrounding land uses.

2 Permitted without consent

Home businesses; Home occupations

3 Permitted with consent

Bed and breakfast accommodation; Boarding houses; Boat sheds; Building identification signs; Business identification signs; Child care centres; Community facilities; Dual occupancies; Dwelling houses; Environmental protection works; Exhibition homes; Group homes; Health consulting rooms; Home-based child care; Home industries; Jetties; Places of public worship; Respite day care centres; Roads; Secondary dwellings; Veterinary hospitals; Water recreation structures

4 Prohibited

Any development not specified in item 2 or 3

Zone E4 Environmental Living

1 Objectives of zone

  • To provide for low-impact residential development in areas with special ecological, scientific or aesthetic values.
  • To ensure that residential development does not have an adverse effect on those values.
  • To provide for residential development of a low density and scale integrated with the landform and landscape.
  • To encourage development that retains and enhances riparian and foreshore vegetation and wildlife corridors.

2 Permitted without consent

Home businesses; Home occupations

3 Permitted with consent

Bed and breakfast accommodation; Boat sheds; Building identification signs; Business identification signs; Child care centres; Community facilities; Dwelling houses; Environmental protection works; Group homes; Health consulting rooms; Home-based child care; Home industries; Jetties; Places of public worship; Respite day care centres; Roads; Secondary dwellings; Water recreation structures 

4 Prohibited

Industries; Service stations; Warehouse or distribution centres; Any other development not specified in item 2 or 3


New Sydney Planning Panel Chairs Announced

15.01.2018: Departmental Media Release - Department of Planning and Environment

Community and business leaders have been appointed to Chair the Sydney Planning Panels to help build on their strengths to make decisions on major development proposals. 

The Chairs will commence their roles today following a rigorous selection process. 

The Department of Planning and Environment’s Executive Director of Regions, Steve Murray, said the new Chairs will bring a high level of expertise to the panels. 

“After careful consideration, the Sydney Planning Panels have been appointed new Chairs, having demonstrated that they have the skills, experience and acumen that makes them the top picks for the job,” Mr Murray said. 

“The decisions made by the Sydney Planning Panels will be independent and based on the merits of the proposals that are put before them.” 

The new Planning Panel Chairs are: 

The Hon. Carl Scully — Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel

Mr Justin Doyle — Sydney Western City Planning Panel

Professor Helen Lochhead — Sydney South Planning Panel

Mr Peter Debnam — Sydney North Planning Panel

The new Chair of the Sydney Central Planning Panel is in the final stages of appointment and is expected to be determined in the coming weeks. In the interim other members of this Panel will act as the Chair. 

The five independent Sydney Planning Panels make decisions about significant development proposals in their region. 

The new chairs have been appointed because the roles of Sydney Planning Panel Chair and District Commissioner of the Greater Sydney Commission have been separated. 

“The separation of these roles will allow the district commissioners to focus on setting the strategic direction for their district through the Greater Sydney Commission’s district plans,” Mr Murray said. 

“The new Chairs will also be able to focus entirely on the detailed development proposals that come before them for decision by the planning panels.” 

The appointments followed a comprehensive, state-wide expression of interest process and consideration of 70 applications by a selection panel.

The planning panels are independent bodies that make decisions on significant developments and modification applications.

Currently, the projects they assess are valued over $20 million but from the 1st March that threshold will be increased to $30 million.

The panels also act as the relevant planning authority in some decisions when directed by the Minister for Planning or the Greater Sydney Commission, undertake rezoning reviews, and provide advice on planning and development matters when requested.