DAVIDSON ELECTORATE URBAN VILLAGES
(Davidson) [5.53 p.m.]: I wish to raise the issue of the Warringah local environmental plan. For the past five or six years Warringah Council has been engaged in the process of reviewing its local environmental plan. That review progressed to the stage in 1994-95 where the council put its plan on exhibition. However, the plan was withdrawn because of community opposition. In the past three or four years the council has undergone a process of consulting the community in an attempt to develop a new local environment plan. I commend the Warringah Council on progressing the review to the stage that it now has an agreed local environmental plan, which has been forwarded to the Government for finalisation and gazettal.
The next stage, as local communities are aware, is to consider the concept of urban villages as part of an alternative to dual occupancies under State environmental planning policy that will apply to Warringah. As agreed, the local environmental plan contains character statements for each locality. Those statements are designed to preserve and protect the character of the local communities. That is a commendable approach. It is desirable, given the adverse impact of a number of dual occupancies in the Warringah Council area, that dual occupancies be replaced by a more carefully thought out and better based system of medium density housing.
The problem with dual occupancies is that as much of the Davidson electorate is forest, new homes are invariably built in backyards, regarded as backyard boxes by many in our community. These developments not only impact unfavourably on adjoining neighbours, due to shadowing and diminution of privacy; they also significantly change the character of the areas in which that sort of development takes place. It would have been much better if State environmental planning policy forced the redevelopment of existing homes with attached dual occupancies, rather than detached constructions.
There is a need to provide residents of much of the area of Davidson, which falls within Warringah Council, with housing choice. Predominantly, Warringah is a single-dwelling area. Many people now approaching retirement age, with empty rooms because their children have left home, would like to stay in the area. However, they have little to choose from. Apart from moving from the area or living in retirement villages, they have little choice but to stay in their large homes. In many cases that choice involves substantial maintenance costs and significant time demands.
I agree with the urban village concept in principle. However, I am concerned with the way in which the council is going about implementing the concept. Urban villages are currently under consideration for Narraweena, Allambie Heights and Forestville, the latter two areas being part of the old electorate of Davidson. Under the redistribution, they are not. Under consideration for potential future development are the areas of Glenrose, Skyline shops and Forest Way, which are also in the current Davidson electorate.
One member of the council’s community advisory committee commented adversely in today’s Manly Daily
on the concept of a five-minute walking distance from shopping centres being indicative of an area suitable for an urban village. I agree with those comments. A five-minute walk clearly covers too broad an area. An urban village needs to be confined to an area much smaller than that. I am much more favourably disposed to an area within a radius of 100 metres from an existing shopping centre, perhaps extending to a maximum radius of 200 metres in some circumstances.
The benefit of an urban village, in principle, is that village inhabitants are close to a shopping centre with a wide range of shops as well as being close to transport. Those are much better locations in which to provide medium-density housing in the form of town houses and/or villas. Obviously, residents of an urban village are able to walk to and from shops and transport. In particular, such villages
suit elderly people and younger people, for normally they will be less reliant on cars to commute to and from their destinations.
However, a number of criteria ought to be applied to urban villages. They should include a two-storey height limit, thus ensuring that any redevelopment or further development conforms to the existing character of an area. Transport should be a strong criteria. Level land also should be a factor because of considerations of overshadowing and privacy. I support the shop-top accommodation principle of existing shopping centres because that type of housing provides greater security and has less impact on existing dwellings. I hope the council will take these matters into consideration.
Private members’ statements noted.
[Mr Acting-Speaker (Mr Lynch) left the chair at 5.58 p.m. The House resumed at 7.30 p.m.
Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted.