Peninsula planning is 'sorely tested', says ACF branch
The Australian Conservation Foundation Central Coast branch has described the planning system on the Woy Woy Peninsula as being "sorely tested" by non-complying approvals.
The statement was made in an oral submission to the Joint Regional Planning Panel, opposing the approval of a 120-bed three-storey nursing home on rare bushland in Hillview St, Woy Woy.
The Panel was considering an application seeking exemption from a two-storey limit and in parts a one-storey limit on such developments.
The submission quoted a report of the concerns of mayor Cr Jane Smith about the numbers of non-complying development approvals:
"Our community spends a lot of time and effort in developing and consulting and being a part of the development of local environment plans and development control plans with the expectation that our council will enforce those planning guidelines and controls.
"To have so many non-compliances I would think sets a poor precedent for future development," she was reported as saying.
The ACF branch submission said: "The planning provisions are there for a reason. As the mayor says, they should be observed and any proposed changes introduced through the consultation processes that are there for the purpose.
"They should not be eroded and whittled away by an accumulation of incremental precedents which become the defacto benchmark but bear little resemblance to the formal provisions."
The submission claimed that the development would have a significant impact on the rare bushland on the site.
It said that, given that no building had yet occurred, the whole site should be regarded as part of the small Umina Coastal Sandplain Woodland Endangered Ecological Community, of which only 10 hectares remained, and that any decision should be based on a current Species Impact Study.
"The assessment of this proposal should be based on a full and fresh application in its own right with current information and not, as it does, on previous assessments of other applications."
It said that claims by the developer that the development was ecologically-sustainable were not substantiated.
"How and why a development can be regarded as ecologically-sustainable should be explained - and not just given as a bald statement that it is."
The branch said that a previous assessment by council staff of essentially the same proposal had found that it was "not consistent with the character of the area", where the assessment before the Panel claimed that it was.
The previous assessment had found: "A three storey building with a flat roof... is not consistent with the existing and likely future character of the area.
"The height and external appearance is out of character with existing and likely future development in the area. The predominant residential housing is single storey with the odd two storey house."
The branch said there was no further information in the assessment of the current application or explanation provided that would justify a different assessment being made now.
"What should be evident is the consistent application of the planning provisions and principles."
The branch said the application should not be approved because it was not a fresh application based on current information, it had not adequately addressed its ecological sustainability, it significantly exceeded the planning provisions and its assessment was not consistent with a previous assessment.
After the Panel reported its decision, ACF branch president Mr Mark Ellis said he was disappointed that the Panel had not given more weight to the branch's submission.
Media release, 25 Jan 2019
Mark Ellis, ACF Central Coast