Notes from Meeting of 08/05/2013

Councillors address

Deputy Lord Mayor Robyn Kemmis and Councillor John Mant informed the meeting that the NSW Government is requiring councils to develop “Community Strategic Plans” for the short, medium and long term – the 1 year Operation Plan, the 4 Year Corporate Plan and the 10 year Resources plan. Plans for LGA will be open comments from Tuesday through to the 24th of June. Council encourages residents to read and respond. []

Upcoming plans include allotments for upgrading Alexandria Park (improved irrigation and storm water management and upgraded change rooms) and Perry Park (active and passive recreation areas and some contamination remediation).

Coming soon are new Village Plans, a response to input from the community last year and the changing demographics of the City, to be followed by Social Sustainability Plans. The current Village Plans are being revised because of changes in population trend, in particular, people traditionally moved out of our area to the suburbs once they started a family – that is no longer happening. The meeting noted that the concept of Village does not work well for Alexandria; there is no central shopping/activity area.

Mitchell Rd Auction Centre Development Application

The new DA for auction centre is a vast improvement on the original DA. It addresses almost all of our concerns. It keeps the current shell, which will be stripped back to brickwork. It moves the driveway away from the corner, and widens it. It addresses the concerns around overshadowing, internal light and the ratio of small to large units. It is a much more visually attractive proposal that fits better with the heritage of the surrounding buildings.

Our remaining concerns are:

  1. it is still too large – it is still a four story building with an FSR of 2:1.
  2. The driveway is still quite close to the corner – inevitably , given the site layout. It should be fine for left-hand turns, but to permit right-hand turns in or out would be dangerous.

We will be sharing both these concerns with Council. Even if the plan goes through as is, it is still a win for the community, and a reminder that the prescribed 75m notification radius leaves residents at risk of not being informed about developments that will impact upon them.

Pepe Clark on the New Planning Laws

Pepe Clark told the meeting the the New Planning Laws are a serious risk to the environment and to long standing community rights, and that the government needs to hear that this legislation will cause problems for the community and will be deeply unpopular. The 2011 Independent Review has been ‘cherry picked’. There are many mechanisms for developers to appeal against decisions they dislike, and no opportunities for ‘3rd parties’ such as residents or councils. The objective is that 80% of applications will be deemed “compliant” or “code assessed”, including developments of up to 20 town houses, industrial buildings the size of two football fields, anything deemed to be in a ‘town centre’, subdivisions and rezonings.

National Parks and Reserves and Nature Conservation Areas will be combined into a single category. Environmental Management and Environmental Living zones – which currently allow low impact development only – will be abolished, becoming general rural and general residential instead.

Ecologically Sustainable Development will be replaced by Sustainable Development. This means that development will no longer be subject to the ‘precautionary principle’ (if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an act).

There are still local plans, but they must comply with the overall state plan and can be overridden by the Director General, much as the Planing Minister used to be able to bypass the approval process using ‘Part3A’, but without judicial review – decisions, even if unlawful, will not be subject to judicial (legal) review. “This puts Part 3A in the shadows”.

Residents were encouraged to spread the word, to write, email or best of all to phone their local MPs, local Councillors, Minister Hazzard and the Director of Planning.

Councillor Linda Scott also addressed the topic: I’m a Labor Councillor. My party is in the middle of a crisis because of planning. Reforming the system so that less eyes are on planning is incredibly concerning. We need more transparency, not less. My local childcare centre in Erskineville has 560 kids on its waiting list. At peakhour we can’t get on trains. Our schools are bursting. We can’t have more development without infrastructure. We need investment in infrastructure.

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