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Displaying items by tag: TOD

The NSW government’s Transport Oriented Development (TOD) plans came into effect on 1 April. We provided an outline in the previous issue of STEP Matters. Ku-ring-gai Council has been trying to negotiate a softening of the impositions imposed by the plans with little success. Basically, the TOD means that 6 to 7 storey flat buildings can be built in all residential zones within 400 m of the Gordon, Killara, Lindfield and Roseville stations or 8 or 9 storeys if an affordable housing component is included.

Council has been trying to negotiate with the Minister for Planning, Paul Scully, and the Department of Planning to reduce the impacts, particularly on heritage conservation areas and tree canopy. The specifications for the building size (floor space ratio of 3 to 1) and minimum land area mean that here is no room for any trees in addition to the building footprint.

Council has argued that they need 12 to 18 months to plan a housing strategy properly and in accordance with guidelines from the department – a 6 month extension has been offered. Ideally planning should also encompass the other part of the announced changes to provide for low to mid-rise housing within 800 m of all railway stations and St Ives centre. An idea of the target for new housing numbers would also be a help.

Council also tried to take one of the TOD stations, such as Killara, off the list and shift the numbers to the other TOD stations. The 400 m radius around Killara is the area with the greatest proportion of heritage houses and it doesn’t have any shops.

Paul Scully would not consider any of these arguments. So there is now a stalemate.

The current situation is that the TOD State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) is being imposed on Gordon, Killara, Lindfield and Roseville from 1 April. Council has still not received a copy of the document (the SEPP) that acts as the regulation of the planning rules that are supposed to guide the implementation of the policy.

Meanwhile the developers are ready to pounce from the middle of May.

The low to mid-rise housing changes are due to come into effect later this year. Targets are yet to be revealed although the 42-page Explanation of Intended Effect provides sufficient detail to conservatively anticipate the doubling of Ku-ring-gai’s population as a combination of both the TOD and low to mid-rise housing SEPPs.

The standoff continues on the major issues with the TOD plans:

1.     Heritage conservation areas

There are still conflicting statements being made about the application of the new housing to heritage conservation areas. The government has stated in the media that current council heritage provisions under the LEP and DCP can continue to apply. Demolition would not be permitted of heritage buildings or those that contribute to the heritage value of the conservation area. They optimistically state that there will be opportunities to build new housing consistent with the heritage values of the TOD area. How can that be possible in an area like Killara with 80% of the TOD area being heritage conservation areas?

Many high rise buildings will be required to achieve the target of at least 4,500 to 5,000 new homes over the next 15 years in each TOD area. The minister states that council will still be the consent authority and will be able to conduct merit assessments of development applications. But these assessments will have to comply with the new standards that conflict with the Ku-ring-gai DCP specifications. It doesn’t make sense!

2.     Traffic

The mayor’s concerns about local traffic are dismissed. The minister seems to think that the railway line is all that is needed. What about all the people that need to travel to the north along Mona Vale Road or Warringah Road and to the south via Lane Cove Road or Mowbray Road? They have to use the already highly congested Pacific Highway to get to these roads that are located some distance away from the TOD stations.

3.     Local services

As the mayor points out in his letter, the people living in all these new dwellings require amenities such as parks, libraries and community spaces. It is unlikely that developers will include space for health and education needs. So, the council has to cover the cost but the government has not offered any funding. The council had almost finalised plans for the Lindfield Village Hub when the government withdrew its agreed contribution.

There are various development contribution schemes but no certainty about how the money raised will be distributed.

Land values have already increased markedly since the new housing plans were announced making it more difficult for council to buy land to be used for new amenities.

4.     Tree canopy

State and all local governments are proceeding with tree planting activities in the hope of achieving the target of 40% urban canopy by next decade. Ku-ring-gai is trying to better this target. However the TOD mid-rise housing specifications leave no room for trees. The low to mid-rise housing specifications require only 15 to 20% deep soil space so the 40% target would not be achievable.

There will be no room for trees unless there is room on the nature strip but with all the disturbance from construction of these buildings and their underground car parks trees of any size large enough to provide shade are unlikely to survive.

The Urban Forest Strategy points out that 70% of urban trees are on private land. Council has limited capacity to increase tree cover to meet the target and the housing proposals make this even harder or impossible.

Upper House enquiry

The Legislative Council initiated an enquiry into the TOD proposals that is due to report by 27 September. This has called for submissions on the investigations and consultations prior to the TOD announcement into the appropriateness of the chosen locations and the impacts on heritage, capacity of infrastructure and on local amenity and environment.

There are already over 180 submissions on their website pointing out problems with the proposals. The committee has a big job on their hands to distil these submissions. How much notice will the government take?

Published in STEP Matters 225