Irene Doutney: I find myself in opposition to the LEP

The following notes are from Greens Councillor Irene Doutney’s response to the LEP (Local Environment Plan) as given to the Council meeting of Monday 12/3/2012

This is what an FSR of 1.3:1 looks like.

Before I make my comments I would like to acknowledge all the work that has been done by staff and councillors to get the City Plan to where it is today. I also attended some of the City Plan meetings and it is with regret that I find myself in opposition to the LEP as it comes before us tonight.

I have grave concerns about parts of the LEP, in particular those to do with our heritage and conservation villages. I believe that the number of large developments including Harold Park, the Ashmore Estate, Green Square, the City and the renewal of Redfern and Waterloo should absorb the mass of development and meet the Metropolitan Strategy target numbers without having to upzone the villages that surround them.

We need to protect our villages as they are the soul of the City and with a balanced approach we can let new development happen in these renewal sites while protecting the conservation and residential villages.

I note that at last week’s Committee meeting the majority of submitters from the Resident Action Groups had their concerns diminished while the developer submissions were all given extra attention with 13 sites now being considered for future amendment. Not so for the villages however.

There has been significant media attention over the gross overdevelopment of the Ashmore estate, where the City’s plans for an already large development were ordered to become even larger by the Labor govt, who’d received thousands of dollars in donations from the site’s owners.

It is politically cowardly to have this section of the plan deferred to a point in the future that will almost certainly be after the next Council elections. The City should submit the plan with its proposed controls for sign off by the Minister along with the rest of the LEP.

This would allow the City to own its plans and have the people decide on them democratically, as well as forcing the Liberal government to show their hand – will they stand up for residents or follow the developer friendly line of Labor?

The controls for Ashmore Estate currently advocated by the City are around double what was permitted under the 2006 Ashmore DCP and if these were the only up-zonings adopted in the area we would still be asking Erskineville and surrounds to bear a significant burden.

However while Ashmore Estate gets the attention it is not the only part of Erskineville that is destined for overdevelopment under this plan.

The vast majority of the suburb, as well as surrounding areas of Newtown and Alexandria, looks set for major increases in density.

Under the South Sydney DCP almost the entirety of Erskineville had a maximum allowed floor space ratio of 1:1. It is noted that these controls have been routinely exceeded and it is for this reason that we are told that the permissible FSR should be increased.

Changing planning controls to meet these past exceedances is not a visionary way forward.

Higher FSR developments got through because developers were allowed to “slightly” exceed the controls. There’s no reason to think the new controls won’t also be exceeded – plans 10% in excess of controls are routinely allowed under SEPP 1. This means that for areas where FSR is increased to 1.25:1 we will see numerous developments pop up with an FSR of 1.37:1. When we next come to review the LEP, will we then up the allowed FSR to 1.37:1 to accommodate these?

You can see how this is a very poor precedent to set, and 1.25:1 is the lower end of new FSRs under the plan. The situation will be patently much worse in the areas where FSRs will jump from 1:1 to 2:1.

It’s also worth noting that the new LEP will be using a new definition of FSR, where internal wall cavities and communal stairways no longer count towards total floor area, meaning developers will be able to get between 5-17% more floorspace into their developments, depending on total size, even without an official increase in FSR.

Having made these points about trying to change development controls to match existing development I would also like to draw attention to the fact that the area is not uniformly high density as various reports imply.

The 2009 Urban Design Study into the area, used to justify the bulk of the density increases, has a map of existing conditions in the area which shows it to be anything but uniformly high density. Large areas of the suburb are predominantly less dense than the planning controls allow, calling into question the need to boost the density, when the residents are opposed to upscaling their village.

Examples include:

  • Newman St between Whitehorse and Angel Streets – only two out of 27 blocks are currently over 1.1:1 and none of these are over 1.25:1, yet all but one block is to be up-zoned to 1.25:1.
  • Block between Burren and Charles Streets – only 7 blocks are currently over 1.1:1, yet 86 out of 87 blocks are to be zoned 1.25:1 with the remaining block becoming 1.75:1.
  • Union St on both sides, between Erskineville Rd and Munni St – only 24 of 91 blocks are currently over 1.1:1 and none are over 1.25:1, yet 65 blocks are to be rezoned 1.25:1.

I would also like to briefly mention the residents of Chippendale who are concerned about the loss of Clause 37 which gave them some protection against certain types of development and I call on Council to put some heart into the LEP where people’s homes and futures are at stake.

2 thoughts on “Irene Doutney: I find myself in opposition to the LEP

  1. Pingback: Minutes of the ARAG Meeting of 14.3.2012 | Alexandria Residents' Action Group

  2. Pingback: The Greens « City of Sydney 2012 Elections

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