Monthly Report – March 2021

Report – March 2021:  Please find herewith some updates on various matters concerning West Ward, and a few concerning the city at large.

  1. New Draft LEP – The new draft LEP was finalised by Council in December 2020 and submitted to the DPIE before Christmas for Gateway, which is the next step in the process.  It is anticipated that exhibition my occur June/July/August depending on the DPIE response.  As previously reported, the draft LEP incorporates various strategies already adopted, e.g. the Chatswood CBD Strategy, Local Centres Strategy (not applicable to West Ward), the Integrated Transport Strategy, the Industrial Lands Strategy, Housing Strategy, etc.  The draft LEP is fairly similar to the current one as far as West Ward is concerned, taking the CBD strategy into consideration.  Once DPIE responds, there will be public exhibition(s) which may go many rounds (exhibition, council report, back to DPIE, etc) prior to final adoption.
  2. Moriarty Rd / Bowen St planning proposal – there was a public hearing in early February, and the independent report was handed down on 25 February.  It is now on the website on the “Have Your Say” page, although you have to search a bit for it.  I attach a copy of the report hereto.   In a nutshell, the independent facilitator concluded that whilst a zoning change and uplift for the site does have strategic merit, the scale of the proposal was well out of the range of what would be appropriate.  Thus, it is recommended that the planning proposal not proceed, and the proponents were invited to revise the proposal to something with larger setbacks, a built form with gaps between buildings, and a height reduction to 4-5 storeys.  The matter will return to Council in due course, although it is not likely to happen before May.

Here is the text of the recommendations in the conclusion:

Recommendations

(1) The Planning Proposal not proceed in its current form.

(2) That a revised Planning Proposal be considered that is informed by a revised built form massing model that:

  • Reduces heights to 4 to 5 storeys;
  • Provides for break up and smaller built form – buildings with gaps;
  • Identifies a % landscape and deep soil area that reflects the surrounding residential area and is capable of supporting canopy trees – consistent with Council DCP controls;
    • Provides setbacks to buildings, separation between buildings, and basement setbacks that support a landscape setting and responds to existing setbacks on Bowen Street and Moriarty Road;
  • Setbacks to Bowen Street should be between 4.5-5m to 6m. The setback to Moriarty Road should respond to the heritage items. Basement setbacks should be a minimum 3m on all boundaries;
  • Identifies important street trees and trees on site and adjoining sites that need to be protected;
  • Minimises solar impacts and privacy impacts;
  • Establishes a FSR that arises from a consideration of height, massing, setbacks and landscape requirements – and is likely to be less than 2:1;
  • Incorporate revised DCP controls that reflect comments in chapter 3; and
  • Results in a built form capable of meeting ADG requirements.
  • Planning proposals in currently under consideration – here is a list of the 14 current West Ward  Planning Proposals (as of 17/3/2021):
  • PP 2016/007: 65 Albert Avenue Chatswood (DPIE is the Planning Proposal Authority)

Gateway Determination issued

  • PP 2016/007/A: 45 Victor Street, 410-416 Victoria Avenue Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)
  • PP 2017/003: 629-639 Pacific Highway Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)
  • PP 2017/006: 54-56 Anderson Street Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)
  • PP 2017/007: 753 Pacific Highway and 15 Ellis Street Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)

Gateway Determination issued

  • PP 2017/008: 3-5 Help Street Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)

Gateway Determination issued

  • PP 2018/001: 58 Anderson Street Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)

Gateway Determination issued

  • PP 2018/003: 5-9 Gordon Avenue Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)

Gateway Determined issued

  • PP 2018/004: 871-877 Pacific Highway Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)

Gateway Determination issued

  • PP 2018/012: 815 Pacific Highway and 15 Help Street Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)
  • PP 2020/007: 3 Ellis St Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)
  • PP 2020/008: 845 Pacific Highway Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)
  • PP 2020/012: 9-11 Nelson Street Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)
  • PP 2021/001: 44-52 Anderson Street Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)

Also, please note that two Planning Proposals will be publicly exhibited between 24 March and 21 April 2021:

  • PP 2017/008: 3-5 Help Street Chatswood
  • PP 2018/004: 871-877 Pacific Highway Chatswood (Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)

  1. Current status of the Metro Dive Site (Pacific Highway & Mowbray Road) – There hasn’t been much change here, but Council officers remain involved.  The last meeting between our officers and the Sydney Metro team was before Christmas. At that meeting the Council’s desire to ensure good active transport links to and through he site and secure substantial areas of open space in association with that active transport were stressed. The importance of the Heritage item, Mowbray House and curtilage was also emphasised.  Council is currently seeking a full update on progress with the project and expect to hear from the Sydney Metro team shortly.

  2. Proposed railway bridge signs in the CBD – Council made a submission in opposition to this in February, citing similar concerns to those that were raised by the Chatswood West Ward Progress Association.  The latest status is that DPIE advises that the application is currently sitting with the Applicant. They are currently preparing a Response to Submissions and have been sent all public, council and agency submissions and are preparing a response. This is due to the Department in early April (dependent on no requests for an extension).  We should be able to provide a further update then.
  3. Current status on the Chatswood Public / High Schools education precinct – Consent has been issued.  It is understood commencement is imminent.  Council Officers (Planning and Engineering) are meeting with representatives for the project next week to address conditions required to be satisfied prior to issue of Construction Certificate/ commencement of work.
  • Current status on the bike path proposals along Fullers Road and along the Pacific Highway:

The Traffic Committee at its meeting on 17 February 2021 recommended to Council that the detailed design plan for bicycle and pedestrian safety and access improvement works in Fullers Road, Chatswood West, comprising a bicycle ramp, bicycle only right turn bay, shared path signs, regulatory signs and pavement marking be approved. There are no funds for the works at this stage.  The Traffic Committee has also recommended that Council approve the construction of the works following funding provision.

Pacific Highway – contractors have commenced the detailed design of the shared path along Pacific Highway between Mowbray Road, Chatswood and Herbert Street, St Leonards. Stakeholder and community engagement will be undertaken as part of the detailed design process. The detailed design plans are targeted to be completed by end July 2021.

  • Local traffic / parking changes proposed – there have been some changes put out for comment on Have Your Say since the last meeting of the CWWPA.  Specifically, these were:
  • Railway Street, Chatswood – proposal for timed ticketed parking electrical vehicle charging stations (comments closed 5 March)
  • Carr Street, Chatswood – proposed replacement of 4P timed parking (with resident permits) to untimed parking (comments closed 5 March)
  • Railway Street, Chatswood – proposed extension to existing full time bus zone restrictions (comments closed 5 March)
  • Eden Street, Chatswood – proposed new full time No Parking and relocation to existing No Stopping restrictions (comments closed 5 March)
  • Shelly Lane, Chatswood – proposed full time No Stopping and No Parking restrictions (comments close 31 March)
  • Proposed Data Centre on Mowbray Road West – there is a planning proposal on the Lane Cove side of Mowbray Road West, opposite Hinkler Crescent and in the vicinity of the Lane Cove Estate in Willoughby LGA, for a redevelopment of an industrial site at 706 Mowbray Road West under a State Significant Development process (meaning DPIE will be the original determining authority).   Lane Cove council is supportive of this, and although the proponent is meant to notify surrounding residents of what is going on, there is reason to believe that this is not widespread in the Willoughby LGA.  It is proposed that the site have a height of 38 metres (6 storeys), which is a major departure from the current situation (which is 18m, so this would be more than double what is allowed now). 

Willoughby Council has made a submission raising concerns on the scale of the project as well as requesting a much more thorough study of the impacts on the surrounding area (which is a designated bushfire prone area) as well as traffic impacts both during construction and afterward – noting the impacts this will have on our residents.  At this point, this is about all that Willoughby Council can do, since the proposal is supported by Lane Cove Council and is proposed under a State Significant Development process directly to DPIE.   However, it is important to get the word out to the local residents, many of whom have no idea this is going on, and Council will do what it can to make sure the interests of our residents are taken into consideration in this process.

Technically, the community consultation undertaken by the proponents should be prior to formally lodging and DPIE assessing the application at which time a formal notification should occur, but Council will endeavour to get the word out to local residents prior to this. 

Here is a link to see the status of this project:  https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/41041.  I also attach a flyer that has some information from the proponents on it.

  1. Council Finances – As previously mentioned as well as outlined in the latest edition of the Willoughby City News, COVID had a massive impact on Council’s finances.  In particular, there was a negative effect of over $9 million in lost revenue (due to various reasons, but loss of carpark revenue, Concourse revenue, and Leisure Centre revenue were big drivers).  This was offset by operational savings of around $5.5 million (so far this financial year).  Although the current forecast is for a deficit of $3.5 million for this financial year, officers and councillors have been working hard to close that gap so that we will end the year at a zero deficit (but also zero surplus).  This also applies to the next financial year, which has the potential to start with a forecast deficit based on current reduced revenues due to COVID.

The good news is that it looks doable with the current rates structure, and we should still be able to deliver all the major projects in the works, e.g. Gore Hill indoor sports centre, Willoughby Leisure Centre pool upgrades, etc.   There will be some more detailed information about this as part of the budget process coming to the April Council meeting.  For now, the good news is that we are well ahead of the curve in identifying a potential financial risk due to COVID and taking steps to mitigate any negative effects as a result.  I’d like to give a shout-out to the finance team at Council – they are very proactive in their forward forecasting and raising issues early when they are easy to deal with.

In addition to that, here are a few things of interest from outside West Ward:

  1. Warringa Freeway Upgrade – Transport for NSW has noted that works for the widening of the Warringa Freeway in conjunction with the Western Harbour Tunnel will begin in March.  Here is a map of the sites affected.  It’s a bit of a strange orientation – an arial view with West on top (Naremburn on the right), but it should give you a good idea of upcoming works impacts.
  1. SNPP decision for Club Willoughby – The planning proposal for the redevelopment of Club Willoughby to add residential units (Crabbes Ave, Willoughby) was approved in by the Sydney North Planning Panel in February.
  1. Woolworths in East Chatswood – the proposed Woolworths project at 17 Smith St in East Chatswood (off Eastern Valley Way) is proceeding to a DA after having received operational consent.
  1. Northern Beaches Tunnel submission – at the March Council meeting, Council made a detailed submission in opposing the Northern Beaches Tunnel in its current form.  There are a great many questions unanswered in the Environmental Impact Statement for this project, and several with the potential to affect residents in the Sailors Bay Ward.  In particular there will be a dive site on Flat Rock Drive opposite the Willoughby Leisure Centre (as well as works and exhaust stacks in Artarmon).  I won’t go into a lot of detail since it is not in West Ward, but anyone who would like to read the submission in all its hundred plus page glory may do so – it forms part of the 8 March 2021 council meeting agenda and minutes.

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