Saturday, December 18, 2004

Compromises on Wayside Chapel, PO developments

Press release from Clover Moore:

The City is committed to revising and updating the planning controls
inherited from the former South Sydney, City and Leichhardt Councils.
As this major task will take some time, in the interim we will need to
deal with anomalies and make some site specific decisions.

Recent Development Applications (DAs) for the Wayside Chapel and
Potts Point Post Office sites highlight the work needed in the Kings
Cross area in particular. Given the history of inappropriate
development in the area, I have asked Council staff to address the
area as a priority.

In considering a DA for the Wayside Chapel in Hughes Street, Potts
Point, Council identified a mismatch between allowable height and
floor space ratio (FSR). Unreasonably low FSRs previously enabled the
South Sydney City Council controls to be bargained upward at the DA
stage to provide "development bonuses" to Council.

In April Council resolved to improve certainty by strictly applying
core development controls. The resolution provided for major
variations to occur only through amending the control itself, after
public consultation and consideration of issues such as the character
of the area, density, transportation, environmental capacity,
sustainability and cumulative impacts.

The City proposed to review the controls for the Wayside Chapel site.
Council staff surveyed the area and found a wide variation, but the
predominant built form around the site is three to four stories with
FSRs of 5:1, 8:1 and 10.1. Council has approved a revised FSR of
2.5:1, satisfied that it is appropriate in the location for any future
development, whatever it may be.

This revised FSR is lower than previously proposed by the Wayside
Chapel development. The applicant has indicated that a revised DA is
being prepared to conform to the new controls and address concerns
raised by Council and the community, such as overlooking, on-site
activity and ambulance access. Council will need to be satisfied that
any proposal meets the range of applicable planning provisions before
approval is granted.

Council will next week consider a revised DA for the Post Office in
Macleay Street Potts Point. In 2003, the Land and Environment Court
supported community concern about the unacceptable bulk and scale of
the previous DA, which would have impact on sunlight, views and
heritage.

The new proposal is significantly improved and is supported by many
residents who opposed previous schemes. However, the FSR controls for
the site are below the actual level in the current building on the
site, as well as less than that proposed in the new DA.

Where existing buildings that exceed the controls are being
adaptively reused (such as heritage buildings) or detract from an area
(as the Post Office building does), Council needs to work toward
better buildings and better design that reduce impacts on the
neighbourhood.

The Council planners report on this development recommends approval
for the DA, with additional conditions to better comply and reduce
amenity impacts.

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