Meriton Refused

The proposed extraordinary high rise residential development on the former Council carpark in Thomas Lane/Albert Avenue has been refused by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC). The reasons given for the refusal were:

  • Overshadowing of Chatswood Oval. The VPA does not offset the loss of sunlight
  • Entry/Exit points on Thomas St unacceptable
  • Design of Podium adversely affects through site access and amenity of the landscaped plaza
  • Inappropriate building height contravenes very recent planning provisions of WLEP 2012
  • Public benefit of 122 accessible units does not outweigh the environmental and amenity impacts of the proposal.

This means that the applicants can rely on the earlier Modification 3 scheme involving the lower height towers for the residential apartments and serviced apartments. The decision of the PAC means that the VPA will not proceed and Council will not receive the $12 million monetary contribution provided for in the VPA. The public car park and all other elements approved under the Modification 3 scheme remain as part of the approved scheme.

POSSIBLE APPEAL

The planning Act provides that there is only a right of appeal against a decision of the PAC if there has NOT been a “public hearing”. A “public hearing” is specifically defined in the Act in relation to the decisions by the PAC when the Minister determines that the PAC has to hold a “public hearing” in accordance with s 23F. The Minister didn’t decide this for the Thomas Street application. What did occur is that the PAC decided to have a public meeting (as distinct from a public hearing). In this case there is a right of appeal by Meritons.

The parties to the appeal will be the applicants and the Minister (represented by the PAC).

The grounds for appeal need to be stated by the appellant (Meritons). It is assumed that Meritons will appeal against all of the reasons for refusal given in the PAC decision.

Neither the Council nor the community will automatically be able to participate in the Court proceedings. They need to seek leave of the Court to appear in the proceedings.

When/if the appeal is lodged then Council can consider it’s position. Recall however, that more than half of the Council in the past have stated that they do not object to the Meriton proposal..

The full reasons for refusal of the application are below:

1. The additional overshadowing impacts on public and private open spaces and nearby residences are not acceptable and reducing the height by 5 storeys makes little difference. The proposed improvements of the Chatswood Oval via the Voluntary Planning Agreement do not outweigh the additional loss of sunlight in the afternoon.

2. The proposed vehicular entry/exit points on Thomas Street (about 16m) and Albert Avenue (about 13m) are excessive and not acceptable on pedestrian safety ground, notwithstanding the proposed pedestrian refuges. The site is located in a high density development area with increased pedestrians over time, particularly those who use the footpath to access the adjacent medical services and Guide Dogs NSW.

3. The design of the podium as a result of the above ground parking will adversely impact on the through site access connecting Albert Avenue and Thomas Street, as well as on the practicality and viability of providing an active frontage link. It essentially removes the open air above the originally proposed open space landscaped plaza, an important feature of the original approval. The podium design will also adversely impact on streetscape and the visual amenity of adjacent residents and pedestrians.

4. The proposed building height and design result in impacts that are inconsistent with the objectives of very recent local planning provisions. Willoughby LEP 2012 only came into effect on 31 January 2013.

5. The public benefits of providing an additional 122 residential units in a highly accessible location and in close proximity of an employment centre and the voluntary planning agreement do not outweigh the environmental and amenity impacts on public infrastructures, nearby residents and pedestrians and workers who use the area.

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