Decision deferred on application for large housing development on former Caringbah High School site

In limbo: The 29.7 hectare site was earmarked for housing when the Education Department sold it for about $20 million in 2012 and used the proceeds to consolidate the school on one site. Picture: John Veage
In limbo: The 29.7 hectare site was earmarked for housing when the Education Department sold it for about $20 million in 2012 and used the proceeds to consolidate the school on one site. Picture: John Veage

The developer of a new housing estate on the former Caringbah High School site has been told to go back to the drawing board.

Sydney South Planning Panel has deferred a decision on the proposed masterplan and stage one development application (DA) to allow the plans to be amended.

The panel published its finding on Monday after meeting a week earlier at Sutherland, where it heard objections from several residents, Caringbah Bowling Club and Caringbah High School.

Sutherland Shire Council had recommended the plans not be approved on several grounds.

The panel said in its decision the location provided “a significant opportunity to achieve a development complying with relevant planning regulations and standards, which is well integrated into its local Caringbah context and provides well integrated on site building forms and high levels of residential amenity”.

It also noted the proposed development would add to the supply and choice of housing, accessible to transport and the Caringbah centre, and was consistent with the zoning of LEP 2015.

However, the panel found there were a number of deficiencies in the plans.

They included not meeting apartment design guidelines, unacceptable building height variations, an unreasonably large building mass in the southern section and inadequate advice regarding the private/public use entitlements of the open space located near to and including the facilities associated with the bowling club element of the site.

The panel felt that it would be premature to approve individual buildings in stage one until issues relating to the entire masterplan were resolved.

The developer was told to submit amended plans by June 30.

“Should that not occur, the panel will determine the proposal on the basis of the material which has been submitted to council by that date,” the panel stated.

“The decision to defer the matter was unanimous.”

EARLIER STORY

A council assessment report has recommended plans for a huge apartment block development on former Caringbah High School land be rejected because of numerous deficiencies not addressed by the developer.

Problems identified by the council included building heights, traffic and parking and that 42 per cent of apartments in stage one contained at least one bedroom with a “snorkel” window that would restrict access to light and ventilation.

The removal of two 60-year-old fig trees and the failure to show how other trees would be protected were other shortcomings. 

Artist's impression of the proposed development on the former Caringbah High School site. Picture: DA

Artist's impression of the proposed development on the former Caringbah High School site. Picture: DA

Sydney South Planning Panel met at the Sutherland council chambers on Tuesday to hear final public submissions and make a decision.

The panel’s determination is expected to be made public in about a week.

The proposed development, named Highfield – the suburb’s original name – includes not only the surplus school land sold five years ago, but also the adjoining Caringbah Bowling Club.

Three greens would be relocated and a new clubhouse incorporated into one of the buildings.

The developer lodged a master plan and development application for stage one in April last year.

The master plan was for a staged development of up to 23 residential flat buildings, ranging from three to nine storeys, child care centres, retail tenancies and retention of the bowling club.

Stage one included six buildings containing 131 apartments.

Construction cost for the entire project was estimated at $116 million, with stage one to cost $31.6 million.

The report said, following public exhibition, 50 submissions were received, but the developer had not adequately responded to the objections that had been raised.

”Council Officers have consistently attempted to work with the applicant to provide an acceptable solution to the site,” the report said.

”The same issues have repeatedly been raised with the applicant and continue to remain outstanding.

“Given the length of time the application has been with council and the unsuccessful attempts at obtaining adequate information, the only recommendation that can be made is refusal.” 

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