Proposed changes to NSW planning codes wild allow medical centres and hospitals, childcare centres and private and public schools to be built in low density residential zones and neighourhood business zones as complying development, taking away the right of residents to object.
The proposed changes take the maximum building height to 12-metres from the 8.5-metres allowed in residential zones and the 9-metres allowed in neighourhood business zones, as allowed under the current Sutherland Shire Local Environment Plan (SSLEP) 2015.
Sutherland Shire Council has described the intensification of development proposed as “unreasonable” and “out of step with public sentiment” in its submission to the State Government.
Sutherland Shire councillor Diedree Steinwall described them as “outrageous” and “scary” and said they would take away the community’s rights to object to development applications.
“Frankly, I don’t know if residents realise what enormous change is yet to come,” she said
The changes are contained in the NSW Planning and Environment’s reforms to State Environmental Planning Policies covering infrastructure and educational establishments and childcare centres.
Key policy changes include an increase in the range of zones where health services facility may be permitted without consent including R2 Low Density Residential and B1 Neighbourhood Business zones.
“There are no controls on the density or form of buildings erected as complying development,” the submission by the council’s manager strategic planning, Mark Carlon said.
“At 12-metres, health services could be up to four storeys in height. This will result in significantly degraded amenity for neighbouring properties where expectation is for low-intensity, two-storey buildings in a landscaped setting.”
Under the proposed changes, there is nothing to prevent an existing hospital from acquiring neighbouring low density land and expanding into this zone at a height of 12-metres.
Authorities will be able to lop and remove trees on existing health care facilities without consent.
The new Educational Establishments and Child Care Facilities SEPP proposes a number of wide-ranging changes to the planning system to standardise the delivery of new childcare facilities, public and private schools, and TAFE establishments and universities.
Key policy changes include the increase in the use of complying development and private schools will be allowed to undertake some forms of development without consent.
“The proposed framework for for childcare centres raises significant concerns,” according to the council submission.
“Childcare centres may be located on a site of any size, cover any part of the site and have any length of street frontage or any allotment depth.
“A council cannot refuse any application on these key matters. These will apply in low-density residential zones and override the the SSLEP,” the submission said.
“The proposed changes effectively removes any negotiating power from the council because the development may cover any part of the site.
“The construction of public or private schools as complying development under the new SEPP is of significant concern to the council because it will erode local amenity in residential zones.
“Currently, councils set the maximum school building height at 12m. The new SEPP proposes a maximum building height of 22m.
“This change is likely to have dramatic consequences in Sutherland Shire, particularly where private schools are on constrained sites surrounded by low density residential neighbourhoods.
“There is already a high level of community concern regarding the growth of some private schools and considerable pressure to expand existing schools in residential zones, where building heights are generally 8.5m.
“Allowing 22m buildings in a neighbourhood built to 8.5m does not create harmonious transitions in building scale.
“The absence of public consultation, provides no avenue for neighbours to negotiate a better outcome. The proposed controls seem out of step with public sentiment.
“The proposed changes to the planning network undermine the council’s ability to tailor controls to respond to community priorities.”
The council’s submission strongly objects to the proposed changes as they represent another step in the removal of council from local development decisions.
Councillor Diedree Steinwall said the “outrageous” changes could see even more development forced on residents in Sutherland Shire.
“This over-development could well be deemed ‘compliant’ and approved by private certifiers without any merit assessment by council staff or even without DA’s being lodged, “ she said.
“More and more development is currently bypassing council scrutiny as the State Government pushes for more density.
“What is scary is that residents will not be informed nor have any way of objecting to what will happen next door to them.
“There will be little to no public consultation. Council’s Local Environment Plan, which examined thousands of resident submissions, will become irrelevant.
“I think the community is beginning to feel totally frustrated and outraged with excessive development.
“They are getting tired of being ignored and if these State Government proposed planning changes take place they will have no way of voicing any of their concerns in the future.”
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