Bayside mayor slams spot rezoning proposal

Voices heard: Residents at the site at the corner of New Illawarra Road and Bexley Road at Bexley North that was proposed for a spot rezoning. Picture: Chris Lane
Voices heard: Residents at the site at the corner of New Illawarra Road and Bexley Road at Bexley North that was proposed for a spot rezoning. Picture: Chris Lane

Bayside Council has refused to support a proposal for a spot rezoning in Bexley North in order to send a strong message to the Department of Planning that it objects to its planning rights being stripped away.

The draft Planning Proposal was for a spot rezoning to high density which could allow blocks up to six-storeys and up to 100 units on the corner of New Illawarra Road and Bexley Road.

But Bayside mayor Bill Saravinovski urged councillors not to support the proposal.

"The power has been taken away from us by the Department of Planning," he said.

"Our rights and the residents' rights have been taken away by an independent, unelected panel.

"We don't get to say the future of our city. We need to send a strong message to the Department of Planning in rejecting this Planning Proposal," he said.

The proposal for the site at 88-96 New Illawarra Road and 307 to 331a Bexley Road, Bexley North was to rezone the site from R2 Low Density Residential to R4 High Density Residential increasing the maximum height of buildings from 8.5m to 20.5m, or up to six storeys.

Residents wanted the council to reject or at least defer the spot rezoning until a Strategic Planning Review could be drawn up for Bexley North.

Stephen McIntyre of the Say No to Rezone Bexley North group told the June 12 council meeting that he had an online petition signed by 684 residents who said no to ad hoc rezoning.

"In the absence of a Strategic Planning Review and a vigorously defended LEP, the result is chaos and collapse and the long-term degeneration of the area," he said.

"Cherry picking rezoning in our area is really not going to make a better area.

"We need a review of the LEP and have a very detailed strategic review of this area.

"Bexley North cops it in the neck a lot with the M5 and everything else that had gone on in the last few years. What we need is a strategic plan for our area and not ad hoc cherry picking and opportunistic rezoning.

"And we ask for a bit more consultation. We were only advised six days ago that this was coming before council. Six days to digest a 565 page Planning Proposal is a very difficult thing to do."

Leah Upcroft of the Save Our Valley residents' group there was little information on the capacity of existing infrastructure to cope with increased population.

"The traffic is horrendous in this area and this project will not ease that congestion," she said.

Resident Nathan Kearnes said the RMS report said the Planning Proposal may set a precedent for similar Planning Proposals.

He also questioned the site's suitability for the proposal particularly regarding pedestrian links to Bexley North Station.

"It will require pedestrians to cross New Illawarra Road at a particularly dangerous location," he said.

Phoebe Scali tabled a petition against the Planning Proposal signed by over 300 residents and 70 individual letters from residents.

Emmanuel Zoumas spoke in support of the proposal.

"The silent majority, which is probably more than 90 per cent, did not say anything against it at all," he said.

"It is an ideal place and position for rezoning. All we have is one dilapidated service station, two fibro homes and three 1970s brick homes. There's nothing about it that is nice."

But mayor Saravinovski said the council needed to send a message to the Department saying no to the Planning Proposal.

"Our rights and the residents' rights have been taken away by an independent unelected planning panel. That's the facts of life," he said.

Councillors agreed, voting that council does not support the submission of the Planning Proposal to the Department of Planning for Gateway determination on the grounds of parking, traffic and lack of direction in the LEP for Bexley North.