This is what is proposed for Station Street beside Illawarra Road & Marrickville Railway Station.  16 storeys - 8 storeys above what is allowed in the Marrickville Local Environment Plan.

This is what is proposed for Station Street beside Illawarra Road & Marrickville Railway Station. 16 storeys …. 8 storeys above what is allowed in the Marrickville Local Environment Plan.

This was the Council Meeting. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine. 

Note: MC = Marrickville Council.  MLEP = Marrickville Local Environment Plan 2011.  DCP = Development Control Plan.  VPA = Voluntary Planning Agreement.  JRPP = Joint Regional Planning Panel.

The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Haylen/North, Tsardoulias/West, Woods/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Ellsmore/North, Brooks/West, Leary/South.  LIBERALS: Gardener/North, Tyler/West. INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Hanna/South.

I have covered as much as I could write during the meeting, as I believe this matter is really important for the community.

Planning proposal: 2-18 Station Street & 1 Leofrene Avenue Marrickville  – The proposal seeks to amend the MLEP to change the zoning, floor/space ratio & increase building height limits from 8-storeys to 16-storeys to develop 120 units & approx 510-sq-metres of retail floorspace.  They also want to enter into a Voluntary Planning Agreement (where they give something in return for consent).  MC staff concerns are – excessive bulk of the building, impact on streetscape & townscape, the building dominating & encroaching public space & non-compliance with solar access provisions.  Staff recommended that the Councillors vote to engage consultants to have the proposal Peer Reviewed, which would bring their findings back to Council.

One resident spoke against the proposal:  I do not support selling to developers  to gain public space.  Height restrictions are 26-metres & they are taking it to 59-metres. The MLEP was meant to be 10-year urban control plan.  It appears that the MLEP is useless as it just gets amended to the detriment of residents. This proposal raises important issues.  No value to hire a consultant. You already have a plan for this site.  It’s too big, too bulky & doesn’t compliment streetscape.  There is no parking.  It will increase traffic & severely limit solar access.  What will stop developers to develop other areas in Leofrene Avenue?  The developer purchased the building in January this year.  Is the developer planning to sell to get a VPA?  Maybe MC could use the money to create what you can afford. A petition of 95 signatures was tabled.  You represent us, the residents & have a responsibility to act in our best interests. This is not one of them.

Peter Lonergan, the Architect:  In 2011 MC gazetted the DCP & 2-18 [Station Street] was one of these sites.  As the owners of the land we were required to incorporate what is in the Masterplan. The roads will remain with MC.  1200-sq-metre public plaza, give an additional lane for buses, 700-sq-metres retail & 120 units in 16-storeys, which will assist in developing community spaces.  I agree there will be increased overshadowing over Leofrene Avenue & Schwebel Street, but the public may benefit more.  We are requesting that this goes to the Gateway process to allow changes to the DCP, then allow to go to DA. It would greatly improve the centre of Marrickville.  At the moment, it’s the hole of Marrickville.

Speaker representing the owner:  This masterplan provides new public space.  It’s an income providing asset, well-designed public space & a landmark building.  It does come at a cost of increased height to offset the public plaza.  We had a VPA meeting with MC in March 2012 & a Councillor briefing in February 2013.   Solar access are generally non-issues & no different to 8 storey building currently allowed.  The cost of the public square is increased density. There is an urgency to coordinate with the Marrickville Railway Station upgrade.  An 8-storey building is not in the interests of the Marrickville community.  [meaning a 16 storey building is].

Mayor Macri:  Moved to submit to Dept Planning for Gateway process & engage a consultant to do Peer Review, & enter into a VPA.  Seek to amend the MLEP, start a design competition process & request coordination of development with upgrade of Marrickville Station.  APEC conference in Taiwan I just attended was interesting.  50% of people  live in urban areas. Within 20 years it will be 70%.  We shape the buildings & the buildings shape us.  The plan gives an outdoor area where people can interact & is creating an accessible transport interchange hub.  The comments about the MLEP…this was a broad-brush approach to give us an idea.  If people seek to amend that & go higher, they need to reapply.  This building delivers great things for Marrickville. It’s a dynamic, inviting & exciting open space.  I want to see this happen

Clr Leary:  Put up a foreshadowed motion to reject the proposal & invite the developer to put in a new design proposal that meets the criteria of the MLEP.  There was extensive community consultation for the MLEP.  This proposal is wholly outside the MLEP.  16-storeys at 59-metres is a joke if you look at what the current MLEP allows.  Mayor, if you wanted a 16-storey building, you could have debated when the MLEP was being decided.  The MLEP is law.  Leofrene Avenue is people’s homes & for the speaker to say it is a hole is offensive.  There are a whole lot of reasons why this proposal is wrong. It far exceeds the height restrictions in MLEP.  The community petition was signed by 95 residents in 48-hours.  How many residents will come forward over the next weeks or months?  I think you will see great opposition.  16-storeys – you will be able to see that from most of the LGA.  This is the Rockdalisation of Marrickville.   We want sustainable development consistent with the planning criteria we have developed. What do we get in exchange? Very little – a courtyard of little use.

Clr Gardiner:  Let’s lock the gate.  Can’t have development.  Can’t have progress. Let’s keep houses low.  Let’s not change anything.  Not in my backyard. This is the beginning of a planning process.  We might find that 59-metres is too tall or the impact on residents is too big.  Let’s consider it rather than saying no.  Clr Leary:  I invited them to stay within the MLEP.

Clr Ellsmore:  The residents’ response was – you can’t be serious!  None were speaking in favour of this building. The Greens support sustainable infill development. 8-storeys is high.  This is not what residents want.

Clr Phillips:  Greens are not against development, but we are for protecting the residents’ amenity without destroying streetscapes.  We were going to get it Peer Reviewed. Now we just send to Dept Planning. I’m pleased that the VPA has more information. It’s a sign the developer knows this is an overdevelopment.  It’s over double the height limit – from a 3.1 to 8.31 floor/space ratio.  I don’t think we have seen this before. This is like the CBD. We did consult with the community.  Now we are to disregard them?  The MLEP is not a broad-brush.  It’s a planning instrument & it’s law.  The last Council used to stay within the LEP, this Council disregards it.  This is spot rezoning.  If Macri & Gardener want highrise, let’s redo the MLEP & consult with the community.  We are not getting much. We are losing Station Street, getting a not large courtyard, which will be in shadow a lot of the time.  The ratepayers are being ripped off.  I think VPAs are a corruption of our planning provisions.  I am also not confident that MC will not be left with a bill to finish these works for quasi public space.  The solar access & shadow diagrams are not well produced. Many houses will be cast into shadow.  I agree Station Street is neglected.  The Greens put forward every year to get works done on this area.  I think this will be a poor civic space.  It will be a courtyard to this building.  They can build an 8-storey building & still make a profit. 

Clr Haylen:  Asked staff – is this fast tracking? Does it give away our planning powers? Staff:  Once endorsed by Gateway, it does become a MC planning proposal.  With peer review, no change in MC’s planning powers.  Back from Gateway would be in current form with some requirements for MC to amend the MLEP.  Gateway is first pass, but doesn’t amend the MLEP.  The proponent could go to the Director General & request MC not be the planning controllers.

Clr Tsardoulias:  It’s not a vote to build; it’s a vote of a process. It will be assessed by someone outside of this chamber.  No DA commitment. Not rezoning.

Clr Brooks: There is a process, but there is a variety of processes.  Staff recommend a bigger, better process to review before sending to Gateway.  There is an extra level of risk to send to Gateway & not take the recommendation of staff.  This is a huge betrayal of ratepayers for this financial risk.  It’s extraordinary to think Councillors think this is an acceptable proposal in this area.  It is more than double the height that was agreed on by our community.  Asked staff – will this go to the JRPP?  Staff:  If endorsed by Gateway, JRPP would not be the planning authority to amend the MLEP.  The DA would go to the JRPP.   [Mayor Macri is a sitting member of the JRPP].

Clr Leary: Does the VPA come back to MC for planning approval?  Staff:  MC owns the land & would have considerable powers. 

Clr Hanna: Are they going to give us money for height?  Staff:  An offer has been made, but not accepted yet.  Clr Hanna: The residents told me that they don’t let their kids come by train for safety.  They say: we are ashamed of Station Street.  I want to see safety & improve the look of the area.  This is the worst Station in NSW.  If this gets built the value of the property will go up.  I’m letting it go for tonight. 

Clr Woods:  I’m concerned to support Leary’s motion to reject.  I take solace that MCs report goes to Gateway.  Pg 373 says the proponent has the right to request a different planning authority.  Rejecting could surrender any planning control that we have. We need Peer Review.  This recommendation will allow MC to stay in the process.

Mayor Macri:  This is a significant site for Marrickville.   The Greens will vote for an 8-storey building.  Clr Leary:  That’s the MLEP.  Mayor Macri:  There is urgency with the Station upgrade.  I won’t accept Station Street unless it is first class. 

Vote to send to Gateway: Mayor Macri, Clrs Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Haylen, Woods, Hanna, Gardener & Tyler.  Against: Clrs Phillips, Leary, Brooks & Ellsmore.  Carried.  Here ends the Report for this week.

A photo from papers given to the public at this week's Marrickville Council Meeting.  You can see how 16 storeys looks beside single storey houses.

A photo from papers given to the public at this week’s Marrickville Council Meeting. You can see how 16 storeys looks beside single storey houses.

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