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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.

Steele Park signage about the swales & water garden design. The WaterPlay Park at Steel Park will open on Sunday 7th November 2010.

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.

Trees at Mackey Park

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.

The fate of the trees surrounding Marrickville Metro are with the Department of Planning now

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.

 

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The evening opened up with an Extraordinary Council Meeting about our Sister City relationship with the island of Madeira, which was recently struck by flood & landslides killing 42 & injuring 250 people.

Discussion covered recognising the devastating effects of this & other recent natural disasters, Council’s poor financial position, the lack of financial capability to reciprocate to an equal level when representatives from Sister Cities visit Marrickville, the large numbers of Sister Cities we have & whether this should be reduced (imagine, “sorry sister, it’s goodbye”) & developing a policy regarding financial assistance to Sister Cities when Council is having problems financially supporting its own services.

The motion was carried to donate $5,000 from the Sister Cities budget to help with rebuilding the affected area. Mayor Iskandar had the deciding vote.

Then came the Development Assessment Meeting.  One wouldn’t think that DAs are interesting unless they directly concern you, but actually they are.

There were DAs for single block developments, shops & large residential housing.  The gallery was full & some residents waited for 2 hours to speak.  The following is my impressions & thoughts:

People from both sides feel quite passionate & emotional about DAs.  Some were frustrated by the time required for the DA process.

Local residents were concerned about developments they felt would significantly change the streetscape in terms of set-back & visual impact. Height, noise, parking, privacy & loss of light were other issues causing concern.

I have seen these issues raised many times both inside & outside Council meetings.  People who become involved by attending Council meetings, signing petitions or lobbying against certain DAs hold the streetscape of the Inner West in high regard & they want to retain it.  It appears that some people new to the area & developers want to build more modern buildings & this causes a conflict with the other residents.

Given that these developments are being built, I don’t think it will be too many years before the visual outlook of great chunks of Marrickville LGA will be significantly changed.  Unlike Haberfield, which has decreed no modern buildings will be allowed & heritage will be protected at all cost, Marrickville LGA does not seem to have a policy like this.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that if a DA ticks all the boxes, it is up to the councillors as to whether it gets approved.  Naturally, the Councillors have differing perceptions of taste & beliefs as to what constitutes appropriate outlook, as well as what should be knocked down.  Many cherished buildings considered heritage by the Marrickville Heritage Society & other authorities have been demolished over the years.

Last night one developer said the plans for a large  residential development were “unashamedly contemporary,” yet the area this development is situated is one of the most historical in the LGA in terms of housing, other buildings, parks, trees & other historical infrastructure. I see some box-like buildings plonked next to softer, filigree terraces, but I belong to Marrickville Historical Society, so of course I prefer the older buildings.

Only last week Paul Keating said on Lateline, “Well, I can’t teach you good taste” when speaking about the 60 storey glass hotel in red planned for a finger pier at Barangaroo. Interesting that I liked much of the proposed development, but not this particular building.

streetscape

I mention the issue of development & taste because our suburbs are changing.  Marrickville LGA is about to embark on major new development & much of it will be high-rise.  A lot will get through because the state government wants us to have housing for something like another 10,000 people & frankly Marrickville Council desperately needs the money which comes from Section 94 contributions (what the developers pay to Council).

The Councillors need our input either directly or via community lobby groups.  Mayor Iskandar said this in both Marrickville Matters & the Inner West Courier recently.  He also said that the changes coming would affect the community for at least the next 25 years.  If we don’t let the Councillors know what we don’t want, then we will have to accept what the developers give us.

Very soon, a DA for a Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore will come before Council.  This is a 130 plus bed establishment with 7 parking spaces, 2 of them designated Disabled Parking.  Is this of consequence?  Judging by the speakers last night & other recent community action regarding the proposed development on the old Marrickville RSL site, parking is a huge issue in people’s minds.  Council is passing DAs where residents question the parking ratio & sincerely believe parking opportunities will be worse with the new development.

It’s changing times.  Denser living will further impact on parking.  Backpackers often have sufficient funds to buy a car & most residences have at least one car & sometimes more than two.  Council & the government are encouraging public transport use, but living close to a railway station really doesn’t have much of an impact on vehicle ownership yet.  Perhaps later it will when petrol becomes costlier.  For now, there is the problem with a transport system that is already deemed inadequate.  It’s all food for thought.

Moving to trees, a DA at 23 West Street was passed last night.  This site will have 8 double storey modern townhouses built on a block where there are two 9 metre Council protected Canary Island Palm trees & a Fiddle Leafed Fig tree on the boundary of the back property.  Council’s own report stated that Canary Island Palm trees only live for 15-40 years so the development would ‘outlive’ them.  In fact, these trees generally live for 150-160 years, which is an enormous difference.

The Councillors agreed these 2 trees will be relocated to the back of the development, stipulating the root protection zone of the Fig tree will also be protected.  This is a good thing, though I’m sorry we will lose the Palms from the streetscape, which has or is about to lose 31 trees on the opposite side of the street.  Change.

It was good to hear that Palms relocated at Enmore Park for the swimming pool development are doing well.

Another DA passed was 63 Grove Street St Peters which will erect 34 double storey dwellings.  2 mature trees will be removed, yet the landscaping is great.  They intend to plant 10 trees capable of growing to 15 metres, 19 trees reaching 5 metres, 9 trees reaching 7 metres, 10 trees reaching 8 metres & 46 trees reaching 5 metres.  94 trees in total.  They also intend to preserve the current street trees.  I wish all developments planted this percentage of tall growing trees.

One final point of interest is that various sites across Marrickville LGA are considered contaminated, so don’t eat the dirt.  There is some serious toxic stuff around from poor industry practices in the past & dumping.  Like toxins that live on to create problems decades later, we need to think if an upcoming development will also be like that & whether we want to be involved in community consultation to shape our community for the better.

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