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PLANNING PROPOSAL - 1/2018/PLP - 55 Coonara Avenue, West Pennant Hills - summary

 

 

THE  DEVELOPMENT  AND  TRAFFIC  PROBLEMS

  • The Planning Proposal includes a Site Specific Provision for lot sizes of 86m² and 180m² which is inconsistent with the proposed LEP Minimum Lot Size Map.

  • This Mirvac micro-lot housing is out of character with the surrounding locality.

 

  • The LEP stipulates there must be no more than 25% of the units that are Studio or one bedroom whereas this development has 33%.

 

  • The LEP stipulates there must be at least 20% of the units that are three bedroom or more whereas this development has 15%.

 

  • The LEP stipulates there must be at least 40% of all 2 bedroom units that have a minimum internal floor area of 110m² whereas this development has 15%.

 

  • This Mirvac development will have substantially smaller dwellings than any other site in the Sydney Metro Northwest Urban Renewal Corridor.

 

  • There is only one car space for each individual dwelling.

 

  • The change from 9m height to 12m height occurs within the same block so 2-storey and 3-storey dwellings are back to back.

 

  • Without any Floor Space Ratio there would be no restriction on the size of the footprints of the blocks of units.

 

  • The removal of the FSR could result in larger units. This would in turn require larger blocks of units.

 

  • The controls on this ecologically sensitive site must be as stringent as on any other site, which they are not.

 

  • The contribution to local infrastructure is an existing playing field and a perimeter road that Mirvac is required to build anyway for bushfire protection. There is no contribution to state infrastructure.

 

  • The site is incorrectly identified as being within 800m distance of Cherrybrook Station

 

  • It is considered unreasonable to suggest that the residents around the station would primarily use the Metro train for transport and therefore there would be a decrease in traffic

 

  • No traffic improvement options have been proposed for Oakes Rd or Aitken Rd

 

  • The bus priority lane through the WPH Valley, which is identified in the report, is not being

       implemented by Hills Shire Council, RMS or Transport for NSW.

 

  • As a residential site, there would be more traffic contributing to rush hour congestion.

 

  • The traffic report does not include trips generated by the proposed playing field.

 

  • Council's traffic survey is therefore of limited use as the traffic counts are distorted.

 

  • This campus-style development should be repurposed as an employment or educational precinct not bulldozed.

 

THE  ENVIRONMENT

  • E2 Environmental Conservation zoning must be applied to the site as previously agreed to by Mirvac and the Hills Shire Council. However E2 zoning by itself is insufficient protection without a permanent conservation covenant.

 

  • A Stewardship Site, which has a permanent conservation covenant with tied funding for its conservation management in perpetuity is necessary or else it must be Government owned.

  • There must be an accurate boundary surveyed and provided as part of the exhibition process to prevent unnecessary loss of the Forest for housing and to provide certainty to the community that the Forest is being fully protected.

 

  • The unit owners would paying to maintain the Forest. This would be the worst possible outcome for the Forest apart from 2017 proposal to build on the whole Critically Endangered Forest.

 

  • The proposed felling of up to 2,000 native trees is unacceptable and must not be permitted

 

  • Each tree being removed must be replaced

 

  • State Forestry employees have recorded and photographed Koalas and have reported that they were probably wild. The site is Koala habitat.

 

  • This Koala habitat must be preserved, including the foraging trees which are growing alongside the IBM buildings. The relative abundance of Koala food trees shows that the site must be considered as Koala habitat.

 

  • Powerful Owls which are listed as a Vulnerable Threatened Species have been known to breed on the Mirvac/IBM site for many years and their habitat must be protected.

 

  • The risk of car-strike for the Powerful Owls on the perimeter road is unacceptable.

 

  • Non-reflective glass must be used across the whole of this development to prevent glass-impact deaths of the birdlife.

  • The total number of bird species recorded in the combined Forest is 118. About 10 species have apparently been lost from the Forest since 1990 alone. Their habitat must be protected to prevent further loss of species.

 

  • The new Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes has said "There are public spaces and there are also open spaces that are private and the network of the two is important for sunlight and air and climate and biodiversity - critters don't see the land boundaries".

 

  • The riparian zones for both the upper and lower watercourses are being cleared for an Asset Protection Zone which is inconsistent with Office of Water Guidelines for Riparian Zones. APZs must be outside of the riparian zones.

  • The riparian zone is required to be a fully structured forest habitat yet the bushfire Asset Protection Zone map is inconsistent with that requirement.

 

  • There must be no hazard reduction burns permitted on the site. There are Asset Protection Zones around the whole development area to protect it.

PLANNING PROPOSAL - 1/2018/PLP - 55 Coonara Avenue, West Pennant Hills - more details

 

THE  DEVELOPMENT  AND  TRAFFIC  PROBLEMS

  • Despite the conditions of the Gateway Determination which only allows for a Site Specific Provision of a cap of 600 dwellings on the site, the Planning Proposal includes a Site Specific Provision for lot sizes of 86m² and 180m² which is inconsistent with the proposed LEP Minimum Lot Size Map for the Medium Density Housing (700m²). This Mirvac micro-lot housing is out of character with the surrounding locality.

 

  • Clause 7.12 of the Local Environment Plan (LEP) stipulates there must be no more than 25% of the units that are Studio or one bedroom whereas this development has 33%. Additionally, only 15% of the units (60 out of 400 units) will be three or more bedrooms when Clause 7.12 stipulates there must be at least 20%. This will directly affect the amenity of the surrounding residents by substantially increasing density beyond what is envisaged for the Sydney Metro Northwest Corridor. The percentages stipulated in the LEP are for units only. The figures for the site must not be skewed by including houses in that figure.

 

  • This Mirvac development will have substantially smaller dwellings than any other site in the Sydney Metro Northwest Urban Renewal Corridor. Yet this site is surrounded by R2 Low Density Residential zoning on three sides and the Cumberland State Forest on the fourth side.

 

  • There is only one car space for each individual dwelling. While the LEP permits this for the Metro Northwest Urban Renewal Corridor, this site is at the extremity of the Corridor with some of the dwellings almost 1.4km from the station. The additional residents' cars are likely to be parked in the surrounding streets affecting neighbours' amenity by reducing access to parking for residents of the nearby locality.

 

  • The Proposed Housing Products for Housing Precinct in Figure 3 of the Planning Proposal show that a row of 3-storey dwellings will back directly onto a row of 2-storey dwellings with no roadway in between. There is to be only 6m separation between the two back walls of the dwellings. The LEP Height of Buildings Map is so generalized that the community could not discern from the Map that the change from 9m height to 12m height occurs within the same block so 2-storeys and 3-storeys are back to back.

 

  • There must be Floor Space Ratio controls to provide certainty for the community. Without any FSR there would be no restriction on the size of the footprints of the blocks of units ie there will be no control on the bulk of these buildings. The unit blocks could theoretically spread to cover most of the area within the "Residential Flat Building Precinct", crowding out the boulevards of trees that are shown in the marketing spiel with large bulky blocks of units instead. The exhibited Planning Proposal even states that the removal of the FSR could result in larger units. This would in turn require larger blocks of units.

 

  • The Hills Local Environment Plan Clause 7.12 (3)(c) states that consent may be given if an FSR does not exceed the FSR on the Floor Space Ratio Map where "at least 40% of all 2 bedroom dwellings (units) contained in the development will have a minimum internal floor area of 110m². Whereas the exhibited Draft DCP requires only 15% of all 2 bedroom dwellings to have 110m². The Draft DCP mixes units with houses which are not included in the Objectives of the LEP Clause 7.12.

 

  • Unlike other Hills Council DCPs the Draft DCP for the Mirvac site has few of their controls such as Built Form, Building Separation, Open Space, Landscaping, Residential Amenity, Views, Bush Fire Hazard Management, Bushland and Biodiversity, Heritage, Erosion and Sediment Control, Stormwater Management and Utilities. The controls on this ecologically sensitive site must be as stringent as on any other site.

 

  • There is no provision for contributions to State public infrastructure as required under the terms of the Gateway Determination. The contribution to local infrastructure is an existing playing field and a perimeter road that Mirvac is required to build anyway for bushfire protection purposes. All Hills residents would now have to pay for its upkeep. In the Voluntary Planning Agreement the land only component of the existing playing field is valued at $25 million and of the road is $16.6 million, a total of $41.6 million.

 

  • The whole site is valued at $77 million in Mirvac's December 2018 annual property report.

 

  • The site is incorrectly identified as being within 800m distance of Cherrybrook Station. Even residents in the closest dwelling to the station would have to walk away from the Station to exit the site, then walk back towards the Station, making the distance over 1km. Most of the residents would be more than 1km from the station with some being up to 1.4km away. There is no pedestrian route to Cherrybrook Station other than along Castle Hill Rd.

 

  • It is considered unreasonable to suggest that the residents around the station would primarily use the Metro train for transport and therefore there would be a decrease in traffic. There is no train to access daycare, local schools, Bunnings, the beach, visiting friends etc. The majority of residents will need to have vehicles. There is no acknowledgement in the traffic report that many residents would drive to the station to drop off partners and children.

 

  • No traffic improvement options have been proposed for Oakes Rd or Aitken Rd which are so badly congested the line of cars on Oakes Rd in the peak hours is over a kilometre long. There is no solution offered for adding further cars to this congestion.

 

  • The bus priority lane through the WPH Valley, which is identified in the report, is not being implemented by Hills Shire Council, RMS or Transport for NSW. It would require significant funding and there are infrastructure constraints at the main roundabouts that could effectively prohibit the implementation of a bus lane.

 

  • The traffic reports make much of the likely overall reduction in trips generated by a residential site compared to a maximum capacity commercial site, but this is dubious information unless the direction of travel is considered. As a residential site, there would be more traffic contributing to rush hour congestion. The effect on the southern route has been seriously understated due to the apparently invalid assumption that only 20% of vehicles will go south.

 

  • The traffic report does not include trips generated by the proposed playing field. Most after school sports start and finish in the afternoon peak period yet no traffic modelling has included these trips. There is no modelling that includes weekend sports on the new public playing field either.

 

  • Council's traffic study is based on traffic volumes into and out of the site and at nearby intersections in 2018. While the Council report states that "about 1200 staff are currently employed there "the traffic counts are not reflective of the number of people directly employed onsite. NorthConnex staff are regularly bussed in and out of the site, distorting the traffic count, some people use the bus, some for multiple trips and some park on the site but do not work there. Council's traffic survey is therefore of limited use as the traffic counts are distorted.

 

  • The multi-award winning IBM buildings took four years to design and minimised impact on the Forest. 40,000 native trees and shrubs were planted by IBM which maintained wildlife corridors. This campus-style development should be repurposed as an employment or educational precinct, not bulldozed.

 

 

THE  ENVIRONMENT

 

  • A significant part of the site is covered in critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest. E2 Environmental Conservation zoning must be applied to the site as previously agreed to by Mirvac and the Hills Shire Council. However E2 zoning by itself is insufficient protection without a permanent conservation covenant as Council can apply in the future to have the E2 zoning changed, as it is doing now by changing the zoning from B7 Business Park to R4 High Density Residential.

 

  • There is no surveyed boundary line showing where is the change from the E2 Environmental Conservation Zone of the Forest to the Medium Density and High Density Residential Zones. It is unacceptable to have a vague line on a generalized figure of the various Zones. Otherwise the boundary with the Forest could be 'pushed' back to accommodate the Residential Zone with subsequent loss of Critically Endangered Forest trees. There must be an accurate boundary surveyed and provided as part of the exhibition process to prevent unnecessary loss of the Forest for housing and to provide certainty to the community that the Forest is being fully protected.

 

  • The documentation on biodiversity that Mirvac has provided for this public exhibition proposes that it will "dedicate the remnant and regrowth vegetation as a Stewardship Site, which has a permanent conservation covenant with tied funding for its conservation management in perpetuity". Yet no such covenant is included in any exhibited Council documentation.

 

  • According to the exhibited Draft DCP "the ongoing maintenance of the significant vegetation (the Forest) on the site, (will be) at cost to any future residents on the site". ie the unit owners will pay to maintain the Forest. . This would be the worst possible outcome for the Forest apart from 2017 proposal to build on the whole Critically Endangered Forest.

  • Most of this land should be rezoned as E2 environmental conservation with protection for mature trees on any other part of the site. The proposed felling of up to 2,000 native trees is unacceptable and must not be permitted. This beautiful forest and site must be protected not bulldozed for high-density apartments. This proposal to remove hectares of mature native trees right in the middle of suburbia is not in the public interest.

 

  • Each tree being removed must be replaced to meet the Hills Shire Council Ecologically Sustainable Development Objective #4 which is "To ensure that biodiversity and the integrity of ecological processes are not compromised by the development".

 

  • This Koala habitat must be preserved, including the foraging trees which are growing alongside the IBM buildings as well as along the northern, eastern and western boundaries of the site. State Forestry employees have recorded and photographed Koalas and have reported that they were probably wild. We therefore believe the letter provided by Mirvac stating "No Koala has ever been reported" is incorrect.

 

  • The relative abundance of Koala food trees shows that the site must be considered as Koala habitat. The site has habitat corridor continuity via Darling Mills Creek to Bidjigal Reserve all the way to the Parramatta River corridor. This valuable suburban Sydney Koala habitat must be preserved for future generations not just bulldozed for more high rise development.

 

  • Powerful Owls which are listed as a Vulnerable Threatened Species have been known to breed on the Mirvac/IBM site for many years. The retention of any nest trees is crucial in the success or failure of breeding. Hollow-bearing trees are critical habitat components for a healthy prey and Powerful Owl population. The removal of the riparian zone for the upper watercourse and the narrowness of the riparian zone for the lower watercourse will not support the microclimate Powerful Owls need.

 

  • The risk of car-strike for the Powerful Owls on the perimeter road is unacceptable. Increased traffic density within their nocturnal hours of activity poses a significant risk to these birds. Currently there is little if any traffic within the site outside of standard working hours and certainly not when the Powerful Owls are active.

 

  • Non-reflective glass must be used across the whole of this development to prevent glass-impact deaths of the birdlife. Non-reflective glass ensures there is no reflected image on the glass from the surrounding trees. When there is a reflected image birds 'see' there is forest in front of them and fly full speed into the glass, stunning them or worse breaking their necks. The combined Mirvac site and Cumberland State Forest has a large population of birds. Non-reflective glass would be a simple and effective measure to ensure there is not a huge loss of birdlife from glass-strike.

 

  • The great value of the combined Mirvac site and Cumberland State Forest is that it has relatively fertile deep soils, it supports tall trees, there are areas of rich damp understorey and it is a rare sizeable remnant of tall moist forest in suburban Sydney. The combined forest has long been regarded as providing good chances of seeing many species including the Powerful Owl, Satin Bowerbird, Tawny Frogmouth, Grey Goshawk and Bell Miner. The total number of bird species recorded in the combined forest is 118. About 10 species have apparently been lost from the forest since 1990 alone.

 

  • It is important to note that the existing combined forest of about 43 hectares has become a habitat island due to the land clearing around it. As such it could be prone to more species losses if all parts of it are not managed carefully.

 

  • The natural forest should be considered as one unfragmented block as they adjoin each other over considerable lengths without barriers between them. The new Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes has said "There are public spaces and there are also open spaces that are private and the network of the two is important for sunlight and air and climate and biodiversity - critters don't see the land boundaries".

 

  • Synthetic turf should not be used in this ecologically sensitive area. Beads of cryogenic rubber can 'migrate' from the edges of synthetic turf which would enter directly into the Forest ecosystem. The playing fields are in the middle of the Critically Endangered Ecological Community and Cumberland State Forest area. We are greatly concerned that the stormwater runoff from this synthetic product, which is made from recycled tyres or plastic usually over a sand base, would be directed into the CEEC and thence into Darling Mills Creek.

 

  • The surface temperature of synthetic turf compared with natural grass can be up to 20⁰C higher. Surface temperatures at other local synthetic turf sportsfields have been measured at up to 81⁰C.  The area will act like a heat island and greatly increase the 'edge-effect' on the Forest. 

 

  • Hills Shire Council does not appear to have undertaken a Risk Management Assessment of the use of this plastic and rubber-based product in this bushfire-prone area. The effects of a bushfire in the Forest would have a detrimental impact on the fauna and fauna of the site, the adjacent Cumberland State Forest and Darling Mills Creek, not to mention the health of surrounding residents should toxic fumes be released in a bushfire.

 

  • Both of the watercourses on this site individually require a 20 metre riparian zone plus the channel width. However the riparian zone for the upper watercourse is being cleared for an Asset Protection Zone for the units and medium density terraces. This is inconsistent with Office of Water Guidelines for Riparian Zones. The riparian zone must not be cleared. The APZ must be outside of the riparian zone. This will require repositioning or deletion of the northern-western block of units.

 

  • A bushfire 'managed area' is being applied across the whole width of the riparian corridor on the lower watercourse when there appears to be no justifiable reason for a bushfire 'managed' area for the lower watercourse in this position. The Bushfire Assessment states carparks such as the open air carpark do not need an Asset Protection Zone and as the multi level carpark is to be demolished no managed area is required for the eastern boundary.

 

  • The Bushfire Assessment states that the 'managed land' on the eastern boundary of the site is "around the existing dam". It fails to mention that this is a dam that has been created on the watercourse that enters the site from Cumberland State Forest and exits the dam in a westerly direction. The 'managed land' therefore includes the riparian zone for the watercourse as it exits the dam. This is unacceptable. As stated in the Bushfire Assessment "The riparian zone is required to be a fully structured forest habitat" yet the Bushfire Constraints Overlay (Asset Protection Zone map) is inconsistent with that requirement.

  • There must be no hazard reduction burns permitted on the site. There are Asset Protection Zones around the whole development area to protect it. The Vegetation Management Plan must include only hand clearing. The Critically Endangered Ecological Community of Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest must not be burnt in the future as the area is proposed to have sufficient bushfire protection.