Monthly Report – August 2021

Report by Deputy Mayor Craig Campbell – August 2021:  Please find herewith some updates on various matters concerning West Ward.

  1. Lockdown Changes & Updates – the COVID lockdown has resulted in the following temporary changes (unchanged from July’s report):
  2. Lights are being left on until 8pm at the parks below:
    1. Mowbray Road Public School Oval
    1. Rotary Athletics Oval
  • The following facilities are closed until further notice:
  • Customer Service Centre at 31 Victor Street
    • Dougherty Centre
    • Willoughby Leisure Centre
    • Willoughby Libraries – Chatswood and all branches
    • MOSAIC
    • All sportsground pavilions
    • Art Space on The Concourse
    • Incinerator Art Space
    • Dougherty Centre café (Blend)
    • Chatswood Youth Centre
    • Willoughby Park Centre
    • Zenith Theatre
    • Joe Ciantar Music Rehearsal Studio
    • Unstaffed Community Facilities (West Chatswood, Naremburn, Castle Cove and Artarmon)
    • The Concourse – ticketholders for cancelled performances will be contacted regarding refunds.
  1. COVID support plan – Council adopted an updated COVID support plan at its August meeting.  This includes business support strategy with an assistance package focused on reducing costs for business in order to revitalise the local economy after the lockdowns, consisting of measures such as fee waivers, concessions, relaxation of some penalties, CBD activations, and promotion of community grants.  The fee waivers include environmental health inspection, fire safety, footway dining, and advertising fees for all businesses as well as sport ground fees for impacted sporting groups, association, and clubs.  This package results in roughly an average $168k per month impact to revenues.

Subsequent to this, the Government has re-introduced rent relief to impacted tenants as previously provided under the National Cabinet’s Mandatory Code of Conduct, which will mean Council’s impacted tenants will be eligible for further rent relief.  This will in turn impact on the budget beyond the amount mentioned above.  We will not know the impact until the tenants supply us with their loss of turnover.

  1. New Draft LEP / DCP – The new draft LEP was finalised by Council in December 2020 and submitted to the DPIE for Gateway, which is the next step in the process.  Council has now received a response from DPIE seeking clarification and /or justification regarding a number of proposed provisions. There are also mapping requests.  Council officers hope to respond by early September with the hope of receiving a positive Gateway determination and going on public exhibition from October. 
  2. Moriarty Rd / Bowen St Planning Proposal –  A planning proposal was submitted to rezone a number of properties on Bowen Street and Moriarty Road from R2 to R4 and increase the density, with building heights up to 27 metres (8 storeys) and an FSR of 2.5:1.  Surrounding properties are zoned R3, with heights of up to 12 metres and FRS of 0.9:1.  Here is a map of the location:

After a widespread community objection to the scale of the proposed development, there was an independently facilitated public hearing held in February 2021.  The facilitator issued a report that recognised that the site had potential for uplift—but not to the proposed scale.  The facilitator report recommended height controls of up to 18 metres and FSR of maximum 2:1.

The planning proposal was then amended to request height of up to 24 metres, with most of the site at 20 metres, tapering down to 12 metres at the southern end (near the Great Northern Hotel, which is heritage listed), along with an FSR of 2.18:1.

Whilst ideally this matter would be considered in the context of the new LEP, the proponent has the right to have the matter considered under a planning proposal, so this came to council in August.

Mindful of the potential precedents this would set and also of the fact that just across the Pacific Highway is an area zoned under the CBD strategy for high density developments of this type (as well as traffic considerations), Council did not agree with the requests of the amended planning proposal.

Rather, the zoning and controls were changed in line with the independent facilitator’s report to allow for development of the site, but only up to 18 metres (but keeping the tapering down to 12 metres at the southern end) and with a maximum FSR of 2:1.  This will then carry forward into the new LEP process.

This means that this specific development may proceed, but not to the scale proposed.  It is unknown at this time what the proponent’s plans are in this regard, but I will report future changes under the planning proposal list.

  1. Laneways Upgrades in Chatswood CBD  – I previously reported  several projects underway to improve the amenities of laneways in the CBD, specifically Post Office Lane, Charlotte Lane, Mills Lane, and Spring Place:

These projects have been slightly delayed and now look likely to extend into early 2022 with completion planned for February.

  1. Dougherty Centre Upgrade –  There is an active project to upgrade the Dougherty Community Centre, using funding from the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program Phase 2 Federal funding scheme. 

The plan is to update and reconfigure the Dougherty Community Centre internally to increase community and hireable space.   This will include a modernisation of the internal design and workspaces.  This will increase the capacity to allow for the co-location of the MOSAIC Multicultural Centre at the Dougherty Centre as well as increase its capacity to allow it to act as an emergency evacuation centre.

The design has been finalised. The tender for construction has been completed and the contract will be awarded by the end of August. Work to commence in early September 2021 with a 3 month work schedule. 

Here is a rendering of the final design:

  • Local traffic / parking changes proposed The following initiatives have been progressed in West Ward that may be of interest:
  • Installation of a new wombat crossing at Kirk St & Archer St, Chatswood (near Mercy Catholic College) as part of the School Children Safety Wombat Crossing Program:
  • Installation of a new wombat crossing in place of the existing pedestrian (Zebra) crossing in Kirk Street.
    • Removal of the existing kerb ramps and replacement with a 3.6m wide continuous footpath
  • Installation of a new wombat crossing on Hatfield St, Lane Cove North (near Mowbray Public School) as part of the School  Children  Safety  Wombat Crossing Program:
  • Installation of a new wombat crossing in place of the existing pedestrian crossing on Hatfield Street.
    • Installation of new blister islands and widened kerb ramps and concrete path connections to suit the new arrangement
    • Installation of associated signs and line marking as part of the wombat crossing.
    • Extension by 5.5 metres to the existing full time “No Stopping” restrictions on the east side and 0.5 metres on the west side of Hatfield Street.
    • Loss of one parking space.
  • Proposed Data Centre on Mowbray Road West – This is a project in the Lane Cove LGA which will affect residents in West Ward.  The project is the construction of a data centre in an area of Lane Cove LGA currently zoned for light industrial with heigh controls of 18 metres.  The data centre plans significantly breach existing height controls (up to 38 metres or 6 storeys) and includes diesel fuel storage of up to 1,800 tonnes in a bushfire prone zone. 

Willoughby Council has made submissions raising concerns over the built form, bushfire impacts, etc as well as the adverse impacts expected to our residents during the construction phase.  However, Willoughby Council has very limited say over this project, as it is in the Lane Cove LGA and proceeding under state significant development.  Council planning officers are helping local residents as much as they can to try to impact the process through DPIE in hopes of minimising negative impacts to Willoughby residents.

There was recently a public forum on the development, where slightly revised plans were presented but resident Many questions were not answered, and many of those that were did not contain concrete information, e.g. a vague plan to bus in the more than 300 workers expected to be on site, but no real details as to where or how.  There was also mention of a follow-up forum to further answer questions but no details have emerged so far.

Detailed information on the project can be accessed here: https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/41041

  • 99 Beaconsfield Rd & 22B Greville St. – the DA for a large redevelopment under the seniors housing SEPP was rejected by the Willoughby Planning Panel.  The proponent has appealed to the Land & Environment Court, where Council is defending the refusal.  A conciliation conference commenced at the end of May.  As a result of this amended plans are now expected.  If they are acceptable, conciliation may be recommenced; if the plans are not acceptable, the matter will progress to a full court hearing in September.
  1. Concourse Cladding Replacement Project – The replacement of the cladding on the Concourse is underway and roughly 35% completed.  There have been some slight delays due to the lockdown, but overall the project is still on track.  Here are a couple of photos:
  1. Planning proposals in currently under consideration – Here are the current planning proposals in West Ward and their status (recent updates in green):
  • PP 2016/007/A  (65 Albert Avenue Chatswood, Mandarin Centre) – approved by SNPP, permitting a 70% non-residential, 30% residential  land use split on the site and the LEP amendment will now move to the final stages to be made.
  • PP 2017/003: 629-639 Pacific Highway Chatswood (tyre & brake shop between Gordon Ave & Nelson St, east side of the Highway) – this PP is on public exhibition from 5 July and 2 August 2021.  It is next door to the site below (PP2021/004).
  • PP 2021/004  (613, 621 – 627 Pacific Highway Chatswood, east side of Highway between Gordon Ave & Nelson St) – approved by Council at the July meeting to forward to DPIE.   Commercial / residential mixed use, zoning change to B4, complies with the CBD strategy.
  • PP 2020/007  (3 Ellis St Chatswood, west of railway line, behind Chatswood Oval) – refused by Council at the June meeting; rescinded at the July meeting and subsequently approved and forwarded to DPIE.  Commercial / residential mixed use in B4 zone; complies with the CBD strategy.
  • PP 2020/010  (849, 853, 859 Pacific Highway and 2 Wilson Street Chatswood, SE corner of Wilson St & Pacific Highway) – refused by Council at the June meeting due to inconsistency with CBD strategy.
  • PP 2017/006: 54-56 Anderson Street Chatswood (off O’Brien St, opposite Tulip St; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) Awaiting Gateway determination
  • PP 2017/007: 753 Pacific Highway and 15 Ellis Street Chatswood (east side of the Highway between Albert Ave and Ellis St; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) – Exhibition undertaken between 21 May and 18 June 2021
  • PP 2017/008: 3-5 Help Street Chatswood (between Anderson Street & Cambridge Lane, east side of railway line; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) – Exhibition has concluded (occurred between 24 March and 21 April 2021). Under assessment.
  • PP 2018/001: 58 Anderson Street Chatswood (triangle block north of Wilson Street, east side of railway line; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) –  Exhibition has concluded (occurred between 22 April and 20 May 2021). Under assessment.
  •  PP 2018/003: 5-9 Gordon Avenue Chatswood (west side of railway line, near Bowling Club; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) – Exhibition has concluded (occurred between 22 April and 20 May 2021). Under assessment.
  • PP 2018/004: 871-877 Pacific Highway Chatswood (NE corner of Wilson St & the Highway, west of railway line; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority)  Exhibition has concluded (occurred between 24 March and 21 April 2021). Under assessment
  • PP 2018/012: 815 Pacific Highway and 15 Help Street Chatswood (NE corner of Help St and the Highway Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) – Gateway Determination issued (to proceed).
  • PP 2020/008: 845 Pacific Highway Chatswood (Star Car Wash site, east side of Highway; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) – Under Assessment
  • PP 2020/012: 9-11 Nelson Street Chatswood (west side of railway line, north side of Nelson St; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) –  Under Assessment
  • PP 2021/001: 44-52 Anderson Street Chatswood (NW corner of Day St; Council is the Planning Proposal Authority) –  Council supported forwarding this PP to Gateway on 10 May 2021. Currently with DPIE awaiting Gateway Determination.
  1. VPA policy – a proposal for an update to the Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) Policy will come before a future Council however for the time being the current draft Policy is informing VPA negotiations.
  1. Rangers –  Council rangers are trying to be visible and patrolling all of our parks and reserves several times a day.  This is supporting the Police who have allocated resources to other Covid 19 enforcement activities and the matters that they normally deal with.  Willoughby Council has also entered into an agreement (along with North Sydney Council) to provide free parking for essential NSW Health workers in the St Leonards area.

Penalty notices are down more than 80 percent and Rangers are focusing on red sign offences such as No Stopping, Loading Zone, and Clearway type offences.  Littering also remains a problem that we are targeting.  Formal warnings have tripled compared to pre-lockdown levels.

  1. IPART Draft Report Including Population Growth in Future Rate Pegging –  The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has issued a draft report recommending taking into account population growth in future rate pegging decisions.  Willoughby Council in conjunction with the Norther Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC, the president of which is currently our mayor) made a submission the draft report “Review of the Rate Peg to include population growth” on 5 August 2021.  The submission addressed supplementary valuations and noted that including supplementary valuations in this process would halve the benefits of the proposed reforms.  NSROC are also asking GLN (consultants who did the combined rates and contributions calculations report) to adjust their analysis as it didn’t previously include supplementary offset.

There have been no updates from IPART since the submission. Their final report is due to the Minister in September.

  1. Bike Path Updates –  The following actions are underway or to be undertaken at this stage:
  • Bowen St – Community consultation for a proposed shared path and footpath enhancement on Bowen Street/Whitton Road has just been completed, findings and recommendations will be presented at the Traffic Committee meeting in October.  Here is the concept:
  • Fullers Rd –   Community consultation for a proposed shared path connection in Fuller Road, south side of road, between Greville Street and Fullers Road/ Millwood Ave intersection in late 2021. This proposal was recently reviewed by the Bicycle Consultative Committee.  Here is a concept:
  1. End of Trip Facility Chatswood Station – Planned construction of an end-of-trip bike parking and changing facility at Chatswood Station (75 Albert Ave)  is delayed due to COVID 19 impacts.  Actions are in progress to create a COVID safe construction plan for Council staff and the contractor.  Once this is approved construction will proceed.
  1. Infrastructure Works in West Ward – Coming up, the following roads are scheduled for re-sheeting and heavy patching:
  2. Devilliers Ave between Carr St and Dardanelles Rd
  3. Centennial Ave between Whitton Rd and Edgar St
  4. Mowbray Rd between Greenlands & Beaconsfield Ave

Also number of heavy patching works at various locations are scheduled. Elimination of Footpaths trip hazards are on- going.

In terms of drainage, footpaths and kerb & gutters, number of projects will be implemented by incorporating road works.

  1. Infrastructure Contribution Reform – There is currently a proposal before the NSW parliament to reform infrastructure contributions, shifting costs from developments to ratepayers.  The proposed reforms would result in a potential $100 million loss in revenues to Council over 20 years, which under the current system would have gone to support infrastructure resulting from development (under s 7.11 and 7.12).  The draft plans and financial modelling have not yet been publicly exhibited.  Also, the bill contains very broad powers for the minister to singlehandedly make sweeping changes to infrastructure contributions (including agreements already in place) without consultation.

Council made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry as part of this legislative process and objected strenuously to the proposed shifting of costs to ratepayers and the potential shortfalls in funds available for infrastructure investment in the future.  We also included modelling to support our position—something which the proposed legislation has not yet developed.

Recommendations included:

  • That detailed modelling and assessments of the economic impact be undertaken and made public prior to the bill advancing
  • That costs of development not be shifted from developers to ratepayers
  • That the bill not progress until credible evidence can be show that no LGA will be worse off under the proposed scheme
  • That a requirement be included for infrastructure contributions to be paid at the construction certificate stage
  • That the minister not be empowered with sweeping powers to unilaterally make changes to infrastructure contributions without consultation.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Infrastructure Contributions has concluded its deliberations and issued its report.  Council considers it somewhat of a win with the following sole recommendation:  

Recommendation 1

That the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Infrastructure Contributions) Bill 2021 not proceed, until the draft regulations have been developed and released for consultation and the reviews into the rate pegging system, benchmarking and the essential works list have been published by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal.

  1. GPS on trolleys – Council resolved in July to welcome and encourage the implementation of GPS trackers on shopping trolleys in the LGA, a technology which is now available for Australian businesses.  It further undertook notify the executives of Aldi, Coles, Dan Murphy, Harris Farm, and Woolworths that this technology is available and to invite them to undertake a trial of this technology in the LGA with our support.  This was done (no replies so far).
  • Additional items out of West Ward – There are also a couple of items of outside of West Ward that may be of interest:
  • Artarmon Pavilion – At its August meeting Council resolved to request a review of DA-2021/5, which is the DA for the adaptive reuse of the old Artarmon Bowling Club into a park pavilion.  Depending on the outcome of this, works may be delayed. 
  • Channel 9 site – Works associated with demolition of tower have commenced. Development Applications for the buildings and other works have been approved by either the Sydney North planning Panel (2) or the Willoughby Local Planning Panel (1). There is one current DA still under assessment for public domain works.
  • Asbestos removal SES site – asbestos and contaminated soil was recently removed at the SES site on Station St in Naremburn as part of upgrade works underway (DA-2020/134).

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