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Part 2 of this week’s Marrickville Council Meeting. Absent: Clr O’Sullivan. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.
Joint Regional Planning Panels – update – Recommendation: that Council nominates Mayor Hanna & Clr Macri as his alternative for members of the JRPP, plus 2 staff members.
Clr Phillips: I note that the state government are raising the threshold since the JRPP have come in & we haven’t had many DAs come back to Marrickville Council. The Greens are opposed to the JRPP taking power & planning decisions away from Council. Given that this is about nominating 4 representatives for the JRPP, it’s unfortunate that 2 representatives are the 2 most pro-development Councillors. Clr Thanos: I don’t agree. The JRPP was an attempt to depoliticize the process. I have no hesitation with Clrs Hanna & Macri. Marrickville Council can make representations. The JRPP are there to analyze the town planning that we put in place. I’ve seen DAs approved that should have been disapproved & vice versa. JRPP should be tried for a little longer. It’s not in the best interests of the community for councillors who are not architects to decide. JRPP needs tweaking to better represent an open & transparent body. I’m a dental surgeon, but I don’t know enough to make a decision on a multi-million dollar project.
Clr Olive: Whilst we may not have the qualifications, we do have a mandate from the community to intervene on behalf of the community. The JRPP should be a body elected by that community with a mandate form the community. Clr Peters: I agree. We are having a lot of our own powers taken away. There have been 14 DAs since the JRPP [came in]. 2 were withdrawn, 2 are pending & 10 were ruled on. All 10 were approved. They are unhindered on Council’s LEP. Marrickville RSL in particular will have a huge impact & the former Newtown RSL site is certainly not in keeping with the control plans for that area.
Clr Byrne: Having been a member, I’ve seen the panel in action. It’s our Marrickville staff who put the recommendation together. I don’t think these changes outcomes. It creates an outcome in our community that is Marrickville Council making the decision because Marrickville Council does all the work & gives notice. Clr Wright: What if we chose not to nominate? What happens? Staff: Quorum is 3 members so the JRPP could still go ahead without our 2 nominees.
Clr Iskandar: Please look at the big picture. Councils have been sacked or frozen for something. The state took over & decided to deal with it as best as they could to make a decision. I do understand that some of our recommendations have not been taken up. Lewisham Towers – they refused it. I support the nomination of Clr Hanna & Macri.
Clr Kontellis: I have a different view about why the JRPP was established. Unfortunately Labor led Councils were found to be corrupt with developers paying significant amounts to councilors to get DAs through. For me it’s clear. Take the decision away from the community & give to an independent panel to make an arbitrary decision. We have been talking about how special our community is. How tall should our buildings be, what our parks & streets should look like. That’s our decision to make, not a panel. Unlike some Councillors I live here & I want a say in how it looks & feels. I want us as locally elected people have a say & make the decisions about our own community.
Clr Thanos: Point of order. Councillors cannot make a decision on height. JRPP makes decisions on projects of a net worth. It’s been significantly misrepresented. Clr Tsardoulias: LEP was a process that was adopted. It went out to every resident & business owner about how this community will look in the next 20 years. We talked with the community, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to make it right. We have consulted & spent 5 years to get this job right. I’ve seen decisions of this Council where we were almost there & then the Council decides to rescind the motion instead of moving for site inspections. The JRPP is independent, unbiased people.
Mayor Hanna: Ordinary residents have told me some things in the shop a lot about Reserve B. Writing a letter to the new generation because most of the Councillors are refusing to pass DAs. Vote: For Clrs Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Wright, Thanos, Hanna & Macris. Against: Clrs Olive, Peters, Phillips, Byrne & Kontellis. Passed.
This was the Development Assessment Committee Meeting. Clrs Iskandar & Macri were absent. The following is my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine There were a number of DAs on the agenda. I have decided to write about only 2 because of the issues surrounding them.
568 Illwarra Road Marrickville – seeking to build 3-storey 7-unit block with off street parking for 6 vehicles. Council staff recommended refusal because of over-development, height, bulk, scale with “fatal flaws in the proposal.” The report listed 16 reasons for refusal including, “considered to provide poor amenity for future occupants.” The developer spoke to the Councillors saying he will now offer the units to Metropolitan Housing as affordable housing for a period of 10 years. He wanted the matter deferred to give him time to discuss issues with Council.
Clr Wright moved to defer with a condition that all material required from the applicant must be given to Council within 21 days, saying affordable housing was too important to reject. Clr Phillips was against deferring as there were multiple deficient criteria. Clr Olive was against deferring saying he was not against affordable housing, but as there was an exhaustive list of issues that were wrong, the DA would need a significant overhaul. He foreshadowed a motion to revert back to the report’s proposal to refuse the application.
Clr Thanos said there was also an issue of site contamination & the absence of further information from the developer legally bound Council to refuse the DA. Clr Hanna supported deferring, saying the DA provided affordable housing though this didn’t mean he would approve the DA. Mayor Byrne did not support deferral saying she was very concerned that the development was considered to provide poor amenity to future occupants & that internal amenity was important.
Clr O’Sullivan supported deferring saying the key issue was affordable housing at 20% below the market cost for 10 years & said it would most likely be rented by nurses, aged care workers, bus workers & the like. She said the applicant should be allowed to work on contamination, solar access, flood level, waste disposal & design issues. She said she would be happy to see a group of people being given the chance to enjoy the community.
Clr Kontellis said she didn’t support deferral because she thought this was setting the applicant up for failure. She said she did not want to create ghettos & poor standard of housing & the current plans will provide substandard accommodation, particularly amenity. Clr Phillips said the applicant had met with Council about affordable housing requirements, yet hadn’t adjusted the application. He said he didn’t think it was good to defer when the DA was lacking in standards & non-compliant on a number of issues. He was also concerned that this development would set a standard for the future & fill Marrickville with substandard housing.
Voting in favour of deferral – Clrs Wright, Tsardoulias, O’Sullivan & Thanos. Against – Phillips, Byrnes, Peters, Olive & Kontellis with Clr Peters as Chair giving the casting vote. Motion for deferral failed.
Clr Olive spoke to the motion, which was to revert to the report’s recommendation to refuse the DA saying this is a 2A residential area. Clr Thanos said the current application is unsuitable & should not be allowed to go through. Clr Hanna said he didn’t support refusal as the applicant may change the DA & not include the whole block as affordable housing.
Clr Tsardoulias said this was unacceptable & that the Labor team moved for deferral so the applicant can work with staff & this was a win/win situation. Clr Thanos then read from the legislation that said Councils cannot consent to development on contaminated land that has not been remediated. He said Council staff say the site is contaminated, yet the applicant hasn’t submitted the required information & therefore should be refused.
Clr Phillips said the Greens were not against affordable housing, but it was not correct to approve substandard housing just because it is affordable. He said people have a right not to live in substandard housing.
Carried with Clrs Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan & Hanna voting against.
80 Victoria Road & 12 Leister Street Marrickville – This is a DA to readapt Bethesda House & Stead House into residential flats & erect 3 other buildings to make 45 dwellings. The DA is in an area classified as of ‘regional significance’ & will go before the JRPP. Council is recommending refusal. The DA is seen as excessive in height, bulk & scale, will not complement existing streetscape & compromises heritage items & their settings. It also “significantly exceeds maximum floor space ratio.” The residents of all 19 houses on Leister Street signed a petition against the DA.
2 residents addressed Council supporting Council’s recommendation of refusal. They said everyone in Leister Street was against the development. They spoke about the following issues – parking is a huge problem & this DA effectively turns Leister Street into a giant driveway, 16 dwellings on Leister Street & now they want to put in 45 new units, most dense DA they have seen, community was concerned about the increase in traffic to the units & the increase in traffic to Metro & the pool. They asked Councillors to vote against the DA.
Clr Thanos said that residential units are prohibited in this area & Councillors should vote against it. Clr O’Sullivan said this is an allowable application because it will conserve Bethesda House & Stead House, both heritage buildings. She thought the intensity of the dwellings will detract from Stead House, squash & crowd it & that intense overdevelopment will destroy these buildings. Clr Phillips said all DAs should be coming through Council & that so far, all DAs in our LGA decided by the JRPP have been approved. Clr Olive said he hoped the DA would be refused by the JRPP. Motion to recommend refusal carried.
Clr Phillips moved an urgent item without notice that Council buildings not be used for JRPP meetings. Clr Olive said there is confusion in the community because the state government has created an overlap in the functioning of Council & the JRPP & Clr Phillips’s motion will reduce this confusion. Clr Wright thought it was “mindless symbolism.” She said residents contact Councillors who help them navigate the JRPP process & that Councillors have an impact on JRPP decisions. She thought residents understood the difference in the two processes.
Clr Thanos was concerned about residents from a non-English speaking background who don’t understand the difference between the JRPP & Council. He said he supported the motion to find another location. Clr Hanna didn’t support the motion saying people may have to travel to the city making it harder to attend. Carried with Clrs Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan & Hanna voting against.
Here ends the Report for this week.