Fast track housing

TerracesState government legislation allowing developers to by-pass Council building regulations is likely to be re-introduced after July. Last year when the new Code was introduced, Councils resisted the policy eventually seeing it shelved for twelve months.

The new Code is designed to make it easier for developers to build terraces and other medium density housing in traditional areas by a process known as ‘Complying Development‘. This bypasses Council. Instead Private Certifiers paid by the developer decide if the development should be approved. The first you may know about a development next to you is when you are advised that work is about to commence. There is no requirement that you be consulted prior to approval being granted.

Fortunately, perhaps, the Code will only apply in areas already zoned for medium-density

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Longer pub hours sought

Monkey Bar

The Monkey Bar in the heart of Chatswood has taken Willoughby Council to court after Council refused to allow the pub to trade until 4AM.

Residents in hundreds of units near the pub opposed the hours on the basis that noise was already an issue with rowdy patrons often creating a nuisance.

Local police also opposed the extension, saying the hotel could become a “target” for people drinking “large quantities” of alcohol.

 

School to move from Chatswood

Gore hillThe International Chinese School currently operating with 35 students at St Paul’s Anglican Church premises on Fullers Road is planning to relocate to the Gore Hill Cemetery site in St Leonards. This would allow an increase in numbers to 210.

The school has a unique approach. Students speak English for half the week and Mandarin for the other half.

When the school was approved in 2015 on Fullers Rd there was local concern that they would soon require larger premises.

12 per cent of residents in the Willoughby Council area can speak Mandarin, four times higher than the state average.

More “unplanned” proposals?

overdevelopmentSince 1979 development in NSW has been regulated by the NSW Planning Act. This uses Local Environment Plans (LEPs) and Development Control Plans (DCPs) to control and guide new development. These plans have been prepared by the local Council.

However, the Act does not stop developers lodging opportunistic development proposals that propose buildings that do not comply with an LEP or DCP. These are known as Planning Proposals or Spot Rezonings. More and more of such proposals are being approved by state government appointed planning panels.

Last year, the State Government initiated another planning process to sit between the state strategic plans and a Council’s LEP. This is known as Local Strategic Planning Statements (LSPS). On the surface of it, such a process makes some sense. However, it is the LEP only that has legislative ‘teeth’.

In a recent communique from the Department of Planning they advised once a LSPS has been adopted by a Council “all new planning proposals will be required to align with a Council’s LSPS“. This appears to allow the planning panels to by-pass a Council’s LEP. The term ‘align‘ is not defined. As LSPSs are high level strategic documents it would seem easy for a panel to declare that a Spot Rezoning is justified. So instead of a Council preparing an LEP this will now effectively be undertaken by a planning panel endorsing a non-complying application.

The Minister for Planning and his Head of Department have declined an invitation from the Federation of Willoughby Progress Associations (FWPAs) to discuss the issue. It is hoped that the Federation will further raise the issue with the Mayor and the Premier.

Low cocaine use in Willoughby

cocaine

cocain1

It was refreshing to note recently that Willoughby has one of the lowest use of cocaine in Sydney. Along with many urban fringe areas, Willoughby was ranked in the lowest classification. Ryde, Lane Cove, Hunters Hill and Mosman have substantially higher use whilst North Sydney has the highest usage on the North Shore.

Images: Sydney Morning Herald 8 June 2019.

 

Chase – new shops, theatres

Chatswood Chase1

Chatswood Chase is proposing a major upgrade that would see two new levels of shops and movie theatres as well as longer trading hours (6AM to midnight, 7 days a week).

The proposed development  would make the Chase larger than Westfield.

 

Justification for the development relies partly on the belief that the Metro North will bring more people into Chatswood and the fact that more and more international tourists from China and Asia are visiting Chatswood.

Willoughby Council is concerned about the traffic implications.

Nearby Mercy College are also concerned about increased traffic flow passed their school gates.

Metro North on track?

Metro North ChatswoodThe new Metro North driver-less train service from Rouse Hill to Chatswood via Epping has opened to mixed reviews.

On its opening day, not unexpectedly, there were huge queues at Chatswood Station for a free ride.

Whilst there have been a couple of technical glitches it is probably too early to judge the reliability of the service.