Northcott Electorate Urban Consolidation Development

About this Item
SpeakersO'Farrell Mr Barry
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, PRIV


Mr O’FARRELL (Northcott) [5.57 p.m.]: I raise the issue of the ongoing urban consolidation development affecting my community. This significant community issue has increasing political importance. That point was brought home to me as recently as last Sunday when, at the Ku-ring-gai community fair, I discussed the matter with representatives of two local groups, STEP Inc and Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment. One major attraction in Ku-ring-gai is its residential and environmental amenity. It is not called Sydney’s leafy north shore for nothing!

Residents enjoy the natural environment and have an overwhelming desire to preserve it. Nevertheless, the Ku-ring-gai lifestyle is under threat on a number of fronts. For instance, the failure of the Carr Government to propose any co-ordinated transport plan has resulted in worsening traffic congestion spilling from the Pacific Highway into local streets. However, the greatest threat to Ku-ring-gai’s residential environment stems from the State Government’s planning policies. Recently Robert Pallin wrote:
    We live near the end of a quiet dead end lane, surrounded by tall trees, and have water dragons visiting our garden from the nearby creek. We have occasional eastern spinebills and rufous fantails visit us from the connecting bush up Little Blue Gum Creek. We have a quiet bush track leading to Highfield Road and our letterbox - a very special part of Ku-ring-gai of the sort that gives Ku-ring-gai its character . . .
    We are now confronted by a development application for SEPP 5 Housing for Older People or People with a Disability. It is proposed to build 6 townhouses and 5 villas on a well vegetated block now occupied by one house . . . The new proposal is to be built very close to the creek and within the 100 year flood zone previously identified. It also requires the removal of nearly all the significant vegetation on the rear two thirds of the block.
    The 6 townhouses next to the creek will be three stories (two living levels and garages underneath) and will dominate Paddy Pallin Reserve. Young children play in the creek and bush here, and lots of people walk along the path provided through the park. All will be effected by this development.
    The application proposes that the 6 townhouses and one villa use Highfield Lane for vehicular access. This will put an unacceptable extra load on Highfield Lane.
    Because this proposed development is in the gully and there are tall trees to the north and north east of the site there is inadequate solar access for a development of this type. The proposed townhouses also all have balconies facing south-west with no chance of any winter sun.
    If we are to protect Ku-ring-gai from being destroyed by this sort of development, we need to lobby the State Government and Council to ensure that inappropriate developments are not approved. We need to get SEPP 5 tightened up so that developments for the older people and the disabled are provided in appropriate places and in character with the surrounding area.

Mr Pallin’s comments increasingly reflect the views of Ku-ring-gai residents. It is important that a range of housing options continue to exist in Ku-ring-gai but it is equally important that these types of developments are appropriate to the area’s prevailing environment and lifestyle. Last week’s Hornsby Advocate reported that a development at 115 Eastern Road, Turramurra was approved but only after a council report said that the application did not meet provision for council’s own code for housing aged and disabled people. It is yet another example of State environmental planning policy 5 being used on behalf of developers. The admirable goal of providing housing better suited to the aged and disabled should not be open to abuse by unscrupulous developers.

Suitable controls must be available to ensure that such developments occur in appropriate areas and do not simply pop up like onion weed across Ku-ring-gai’s backyard. These developments could occur in parts of Ku-ring-gai and not significantly detract from the Ku-ring-gai lifestyle. Certain areas adjacent to the Pacific Highway and the north shore rail line are but one example. I cannot see the point of locating such developments in areas described by Mr Pallin which are well away from those facilities that the aged and the disabled need. The issue of urban development is topical and important in Ku-ring-gai and I expect it will ever be thus. That concern is warranted if we believe in the goal of protecting both our urban and physical environments for our enjoyment and for the enjoyment of our children and their children. I am concerned that State Government pressures on areas like Ku-ring-gai put this goal and existing lifestyles and residential amenities under threat.

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Ku-ring-gai council is working hard to try to address the State Government’s concerns over its residential strategy policy, and I note that council’s consultants will brief residents on 26 October at the bush school. I urge the State Government not to repeat the mistakes of past governments, including Liberal ones, in this area. Sydney is not uniform. Its suburbs are not all alike. I urge the State Government when assessing Ku-ring-gai’s proposals, to take into account the environment and lifestyle of the Ku-ring-gai municipality.

I remain strongly of the view that the most appropriate candidates for urban consolidation are those areas closer to Sydney’s central business district where, for decades, infrastructure like hospitals and schools have been closed as people have moved to outer suburbs. These areas could be regenerated, the infrastructure could be restored and planning objectives could be achieved without significantly affecting existing residential amenity. That is an approach I hope the next Liberal State Government will take. It is an approach which will preserve Ku-ring-gai’s residential and environment amenity, something which I, as an aspirant to be the next member for Ku-ring-gai, will work hard to maintain.