Whether or not you agree with the outcome (the market garden will go ahead) it was brilliant to see the councillors working together.
It was also great to see an increase in Council grant money, which will now also be indexed to CPI.
An area that has been an ongoing point of difference has been around subdivisions. All went ahead on majority votes but there are clearly some complex discussions that need to be had on this and maybe an all-of-Council approach where Camden Council could potentially agree to a submission to the State Government about subdivisions of small blocks.
The stated fear of a potential for "lowest common denominator development" made by one councillor, and the likely flow-on effects to the community, is one that we should take seriously. I hope to see movement on this front over the coming months.
One final note before getting to the meeting proper, I have to report that despite being 12 meetings into this term, Cr Rob Mills has yet to speak in Camden Council chambers. This is a growing issue as those he represents cannot hear the reasons for his vote. I continue to hope this situation will change.
Now, down to the details of the meeting
The first speaker in the public addresses, Mr Graham Pascoe, spoke in support of ORD04, the market garden proposed at 25-85 Camden Valley Way Road, Elderslie.
Mr Pascoe was speaking in support of the market garden. He described how it was with a sense of elation and frustration that he was before the council. He said he was elated that the counsellors were looking at the development application for the property but he and his client were frustrated by the "resource sapping" journey to this point and the level of misinformation that had been circulating in the general community.
He described as clients as "top tier farmers" and that the proposed business was compliant with the aims of the Camden Council to maintain rural industries and the scenic landscape of the area. He acknowledged the sensitivity of the site, its placement at the gateway to Camden, the sensitivities around the former Tramway and its proximity to the Nepean River and several local residences.
While the applicants had gone through a long process to get to this point they were concerned by some of the conditions that were being placed on the development application.
They challenged the need for an archaeologist because of the former Tramway, as the land had been significantly disturbed and was unlikely to reveal anything of significance in regards to the railway.
They also challenged the need to cover the poultry manure piles to prevent odour as exposure to the elements causes crusting of the stockpile that locks in the odour.
They also asked for the hours of operation to be extended during summer two 7:30pm or sunset rather than the current condition of 7pm.
The second scheduled speaker was Mr Mark Whitehead who aimed to speak against the market garden development. Unfortunately, Mr Whitehead was not present at the meeting.
The minutes from the previous meeting were accepted.
The mayor then proceeded to read two mayoral minutes. The first was on Anzac Day and the impressive way the ceremonies were conducted. It seems the kerfuffle over the flag poles from earlier this year has been put to bed. You can read the full minute here.
Cr Eva Campbell also responded to the mayoral minute. She requested that the mayoral minute also include a thank you to the Camden RSL management and the volunteers from the Camden Veteran Widows organisation. She also added her congratulations to the Camden RSL sub branch members for the big screens that were used very effectively this year.
The second was for Camden Cricket Club, which was named Cricket Australia's club of the year. You can read that here.
This was the smallest subdivision yet that has come before Council while I have been observing it. Under the South-West Growth Plan’s State Environmental Planning policy, which is controlled by the New South Wales government, this is a complying development.
Cr Theresa Fedelli spoke in support of the development. She noted that it was permissible and that it was a complying development. Cr Fedeli recognised there were concerns about the lot size from the local community but because it was permissible she would support it.
Cr Paul Farrow spoke against the development. He first asked a question regarding the statement at the bottom of page 19 of the business paper whether the terms "generally compliant" as it related to this subdivision meant that there were some aspects of this subdivision that may not have been compliant.
The Director of Planning and Environmental Services Miss Nicole Magurren said that this was just standard phrasing and the subdivision was compliant with the development control plans for Oran Park.
Cr Paul Farrow then noted that the business paper stated that development was in the public interest and asked how the Council officers determined "what was in the public interest".
Miss Magurren said it was not a straightforward answer but that the officers would look at the strategic direction documents and controls linked to an area, the broader strategic planning controls and documents across all of Sydney.
Cr Farrow then asked a final question, querying whether this kind of subdivision would be allowed through the local environment plan.
Miss Magurren said dual occupancies were allowed through the local environment plan although there were different controls in different areas — such as changes in lot sizes.
Cr Farrow then went on to make the point that if the Council’s controls don't allow the subdivision of a 500sqm block then how can it say this is in the public interest under the State Environmental Plan?
Miss Magurren noted that areas such as Oran Park, which had been designated as Southwest Growth Area centre, would have its own set of controls. She noted that generally lot sizes were smaller than areas outside of the growth areas.
Cr Farrow ended his questions.
Cr Cindy Cagney spoke against the development. She said she had drawn a line in the sand when it came to this sort of subdivision. She said she considered it to be overcrowding and there would be a loss of light and amenity. For these reasons she would support the residents..
Cr Cagney said it was very sad and unnecessary for these kind of subdivisions considering the amount of land available in the area. She also expressed her concern again that people have bought into what they thought were premium developments and suddenly found themselves with “two houses over the back fence” that were extremely close to the fence edge.
Cr Eva Campbell spoke against the development. She said she appreciated the comments by her colleagues against this development and that she understood Cr Fedelli's point of view around the state government rules and that therefore the council must support it. However, she said there some things that needed to be noted.
One, although the council represented the community it did not have the ultimate say on the development as it was a State government decision. However, she noted that as community representatives it was important that the councillors pointed out at every opportunity that “lowest common denominator development” was not suitable. She said while Sydney may have an affordable housing crisis, and this needed to be addressed, development of this kind would in the future create communities with questionable livability. She noted we don't have local employment to support this density of population or sufficient access to public transport.
Cr Campbell was concerned that simply saying the Council can't do anything about this inferred councillors approved of this and the community accepts these kind of subdivisions. She noted some subdivisions have been worse than others and that not many people had objected to this particular subdivision either because they had given up or that they knew they would be subject to this type of subdivision before they moved into the area. She said, the key question for counsellors was whether they should just go along with what the State Government wants “or do we have the bottle to stand up and say this is wrong?” That's the question we have to ask ourselves when we vote on this.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves spoke for the development. He said the fact the development application was submitted at a time when the rules allowed it. He said, “yet again” that if councillors do not like those rules they actually should try to change tem. If the applicant has complyied with the State government controls and council controls it should be approved.
Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke for the subdivision. She noted that the discussion repeated conversations that had previously come before the council. Cr Symkowiak pointed out that the policies developed in 2006 have been in place for over 10 years. “It clearly states the minimum lot size for dual occupancy as 500sqm”, she said. “All the planning controls have been met. The owner purchased the land in good faith and they have legally complied with the rules.”
She again urged buyers, particularly in the Growth suburbs, to be aware of the blocks that surrounded them and what could eventually be built beside them. She understood because of the housing crisis in Sydney, the intention was to create multiple housing types in the region and that it was likely to see these kind of subdivisions and dual occupancies in these estates. As in the last meeting, she again suggested buyers do their homework and get the most out of a good conveyancer or solicitor.
She said the subdivision met all controls and disagreed with Councillor Cagney's comments on overshadowing and privacy. She said the subdivision met the solar access requirements and the upstairs rooms were considered low use rooms that would not intrude on privacy.
The development was passed. Liberal councillors – Cr Michael Morrison, Cr Peter Sidgreaves, Cr Theresa Fedeli, Cr Lara Symkowiak and independent Cr Rob Mills voted for the development. Cr Cindy Cagney, Cr Paul Farrow and Cr Eva Campbell voted against the subdivision.
This is the subdivision of a 690sqm lot into two lots. One of the houses being built on the subdivision will have an attached garage while the other has a separate garage. The block was part of a residual lot from a development that had been previously approved and built on.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves spoke in support of the development. Cr Sidgreaves did not go into detail but addressed the specific aspect of the width of the driveway, which was a variation from 5 m to 8 m. He supported it because the driveway had to serve two houses and it also entered a service laneway.
Cr Paul Farrow had a question. He aimed to clarify whether the original development application for this area, which was brought before the council in early 2016, included this residual lot or whether this was added later. He wanted to determine if the original application for this area had removed this space, so that it could be accepted at the time and whether or not this block had now been reinserted despite not being part of the original application.
Miss Magurren explained that despite this being a residual lot, the intention was always to develop in the future. “It was always intended that another development application would come before the council for this particular area”.
Cr Farrow then asked whether the development application had originally been put forward for nine lots.
Miss Magurren explained that the original development application did come in at nine lots but there were some issues with the development control plan, so the DA was amended to only include seven lots with this lot to be revisited later.
Cr Eva Campbell then asked a question. She reviewed the process that led to the current development application and then asked about the additional secondary building on one of the subdivided blocks. She was concerned that there were now three dwellings on these two blocks.
Miss Magurran explained that the additional dwelling was just a detached garage.
The subdivision was passed. Liberal councillors – Cr Michael Morrison, Cr Peter Sidgreaves, Cr Theresa Fedeli, Cr Lara Symkowiak and independent Cr Rob Mills voted for the development. Cr Cindy Cagney, Cr Paul Farrow and Cr Eva Campbell voted against the subdivision.
This is an unusually shaped battle axe block in the middle of the street that has a very small front but which opens out into a much larger block towards the rear. One of the blocks to be subdivided also includes a secondary detached dwelling in the form of a granny flat.
Cr Teresa Fedelli spoke in support of the application. She said the development was permissible in this area and despite two submissions opposing it she would still support it.
Cr Paul Farrow spoke against the subdivision. Before speaking he had some questions for Council officers. He wanted to know how wide the frontage of the two properties were as this was not immediately apparent on the plans.
Miss Magurren said the site frontage was measured at 15m.
Cr Farrow then asked that even though there were two blocks to be approved, was the permissible frontage related to the entire block rather than the split block after it was subdivided.
Miss Magurren said no, frontages were based on minimum lot size.
Cr Farrow then referred to the proposed granny flat. He asked if the granny flat could have occurred in the future without the Council's consent.
Miss Magurren said it could have, as new secondary dwellings are now permitted in most residential zones and if residents meet the controls for affordable housing in the Growth areas. She said it could be proposed on lots of 450sqm and over as long as development controls were met.
Cr Eva Campbell spoke against the subdivision. She apologised for her error on the previous development, noting that she knew there was a granny flat somewhere but had mistaken it for the previous development.
The development application was passed. Liberal councillors – Cr Michael Morrison, Cr Peter Sidgreaves, Cr Theresa Fedeli, Cr Lara Symkowiak and independent Cr Rob Mills voted for the development. Cr Cindy Cagney, Cr Paul Farrow and Cr Eva Campbell voted against the subdivision.
This is the market garden proposal spoken about in the public addresses. It is a large commercial development that will replace the horse agistment centre that currently occupies the land. The area for cultivation extends from the Nepean River near the intersection of MacArthur Road along Camden Valley Way to as far as Kirkham Lane.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves spoke in support of the development but wanted to ask a few clarifying questions first. He noted a letter had been received from Mr Graham Pascoe and also an additional memorandum (one assumes from Council officers). He noted that, as Mr Pascoe had said, some of the conditions for the development seemed excessive. In particular he pointed out the need for the presence of an archaeologist when the excavation of the tramway area was underway. He asked it was absolutely necessary for an archaeologist to be employed in this way when they were actually required to report on any findings.
Miss Magurren said ultimately the decision was for the council. She said the reason the decision was made was because some level of skill may be needed to recognise if something significant was uncovered.
Cr Sidgreaves then asked about the conditions that required the manure pile to be covered. He noted there was already a condition in place that said the odour from the manure pile should not be detectable from the edge of the property. He said, in light of this, was the secondary condition to cover the pile absolutely necessary?
Miss Magurren set the condition had been recommended because it was believed that it would enhance the likelihood that the odour would not be detected from the boundary.
Cr Sidgreaves said it was the council's responsibility to ensure there was no odour detectable at the boundary but not how this would be achieved.
Miss Magurren said that was correct.
Cr Sidgreaves last question was in relation to summertime hours, saying he had no issue with extending the hours to 7.30pm and felt it was entirely reasonable. He felt it was a good compromise between sunset and 7pm.
He then went on to propose amendments to the development application. These were to remove the condition to cover the poultry manure and stockpile then to allow the extension of trading hours during summer to 7.30pm.
The changes were put to Cr Teresa Fedelli as she was the seconder of the original motion.
Cr Fidelli agreed to the changes, saying she was glad he had not also added in removing the archaeologist because she said she would have said rejected that.
Cr Sidgreaves then went on to speak in support of the development saying this was the kind of application Camden had been calling out for. He said it was completely in line with the Council's views about rural heritage. It was a great development and he was very pleased to see it.
Cr Eva Campbell spoke in support of the amended recommendation for the market garden to go ahead. However, she said she would like to address the issue of the archaeologist. She noted Cr Fedelli supported keeping the archaeologist. Cr Campbell noted that until she had read the detail around the creation of the Heritage committee, which would be addressed later in the meeting, she was not aware that the Council had a heritage officer. She wanted to know whether the heritage report came from this officer or from an external consultant appointed by the Council.
Miss Magurren said the Council's own heritage officer had compiled the report.
Cr Campbell said she was perplexed by the the idea that the former platform at either Kirkham or Elderslie should warrant archaeological expertise. She said this was not the same as Belgenny Farm, which had historical value through the Macarthur's. By contrast, she could not see the purpose of an archaeological expert for the rail platforms as these were not stations they were just platforms and, much like bus shelters of today, residents waved to stop a train and pulled the bell when they wanted to get off. Cr Campbell could not see much in the way of archaeological relics other than the odd coin or button. She noted the whole area had been disturbed since the train left Camden in the early 1960s and felt having an archaeologist was "completely over the top". She asked Cr Sidgreave and Cr Fedelli if they would agree to remove that condition.
Cr Sidgreave agreed to the amendment. Cr Fedelli paused for a very long moment to think over what she had just heard before also agreeing to the amendment.
Cr Campbell then said the only other area that concerned her was in relation to turning traffic. She couldn't understand how one truck turning in and turning out of the market garden every day was more hazardous than the multiple horse floats that moved in and out of the same driveway currently, especially as traffic lights were proposed for the intersection of Macarthur Road and Camden Valley Way. She asked if the traffic lights had been factored in to this condition.
Miss Magurren replied that the traffic lights were considered as part of the recommendation conditions.
Cr Campbell noted that licensed truck drivers have far more skills than those people towing horse floats — such as herself — and that perhaps the condition regarding the trucks was unnecessary.
Cr Cindy Cagney spoke against the development of the market garden. She said her concerns mirrored many of the submissions. She didn't think a market garden was a good choice for an iconic gateway development saying it didn't have any connection to the original intention for the land and was out of context with the drive into Camden township. She said she didn't think there was anything wrong with the development application but that it was in the wrong location.
Cr Paul Farrow had a question. He said he had only one concern around the poultry manure stockpile. His concern was that it was close to residents and the main street and he wanted to know what recourse the Council had if odours became an issue.
Miss Magurren said that if the Council received complaints, a Council officer could go out and enforce the conditions of consent.
Cr Eva Campbell asked if it was possible if the condition of consent for covering the poultry stockpile could be added as a pending recommendation if there were justifiable complaints in regards to the odour.
Miss Magurren said it would be a matter for the council if they wanted to add that condition.
Cr Campbell then asked the mover and seconder if they would be prepared to put in a deferred condition of consent to have the pile covered if the odour did prove to be a problem.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves asked a question before he answered. He asked if this kind of amendment was customary for similar developments within the Camden local government area.
Miss Magurran said she would have to take the question on notice but she noted that it was possible and perhaps not unusual to have a deferred condition of this type.
Cr Sidgreaves then asked how close the poultry manure pile was to houses.
Miss Magurren consulted the plans and noted, after being informed that the main building was 150m from residents, but an additional distance to the manure pile from the development edge would have to be factored in.
Cr Sidgreaves asked if this condition of consent was deferred what would activate it?
Miss Magurren said that if the council was to receive complaints about the odour they would send somebody out there to review the issue. In that case they could ask the market garden to take further measures including covering the manure pile.
Cr Sidgreaves asked if that would be on a case-by-case basis or once they had been asked to cover it, it would remain that way?
Miss Magurren said the market garden would have to do whatever is necessary to address the odour. She said the council would likely receive further complaints if the odour persisted. She noted the amount of manure onsite would likely be affected by the seasons, “so it may be something that only happens at certain times of the year”.
Cr Sidgreaves said he was happy to support the deferred amendment. Cr Fidelli was also happy to support the amendment.
Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke in favour of the recommendation and all the amendments. She noted how rare it was to see a development application of this size for a rural industry in Camden to come before the council. She believed the staged plan of 13 agricultural precincts would benefit development.
Cr Symkowiak noted the garden would employ 24 staff, including a permanent on-site manager. She didn't believe there would be traffic issues and thought it was a positive development for the Camden local government area.
In reference to Cr Cagney's comment regarding the site, she said that the Council couldn't be choosy about the location of this type of agricultural industry. Cr Symkowiak said that although people have become used to the horse agistment in this location, it didn't mean that it could to return to its original use as a primary industry business.
She felt it was a positive economic development for the area and noted the time and expense the applicant had invested to get to this point. She supported the removal of the three recommendations and the deferred condition of consent. Cr Symkowiak said the 50m buffer around the tramway area was appropriate and with the history of disturbance she was happy to support the amendment removing the archaeologist.
The vote to approve the market garden was passed by majority. Only Cr Cindy Cagney voted against the development.
This item shows the draft plans and budgets for the council and future developments. It will be exhibited publicly and comments and submissions for change will be accepted from the public before it has been approved. You can find all the documents online here.
Cr Eva Campbell spoke for the recommendation. She noted that this was going out on public exhibition and encouraged the community to look at it and let the council know what they think of it. The plans and delivery program would then come back to Council for the council to make a decision.
Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke for the recommendation. She said it was a sensible budget and that was in line with what the community expects of the Council. She encouraged members of the community to have a look at the budget. Cr Symkowiak said there were very exciting plans and the capital works arena and she wanted to know what the community thought of them. She noted there was an increase in the number of trainees the Council as the area grew.
Cr Symkowiak noted that the complete budget was $300 million, while the cash budget was just over $100 million. That $200 million difference was made up by developer contributions and section 94 payments or work in kind for the Camden Council area. She looked forward to community comments.
Cr Symkowiak said the budget included 25 new positions for the Council this year, saying it highlighted how quickly the Council was growing to deal with the increase in population. The positions were primarily for landscape and garden maintenance; parks and reserves; and customer service.
The recommendation was passed unanimously.
ORD06: Options for a heritage protection committee
This item follows on from a notice of motion earlier in the year two introduce a heritage committee to the Camden local government area. At that original meeting the decision was made for council officers to explore different options for this committee. This is the report that was brought back to the Council. The next stage of the process will be to explore the terms of reference required to establish the committee.
Cr Cindy Cagney spoke in support of the heritage protection committee. She said she looked forward to seeing the terms of reference once they had been developed by Council officers. She asked for in addition to the dot points in the report asking that they include active links on the Council website that would make it possible for members of the community to contact the heritage protection committee. She also requested the potential addition of a point where the Committee would be notified when a development application was submitted.
Cr Cagney reminded the Council of a heritage building that had proposed renovations in the main street of Camden. She recalled that the owner of the building had gone to a lot of trouble searching for colours and materials in what she thought were heritage colours but in fact they were nothing like the heritage colours of the period of that building. Cr Cagney said had the owner had access to a heritage committee this could have saved a lot of trouble.
Cr Campbell spoke in support of the recommendation. She said the importance of the heritage aspects of Camden made this an excellent move by the Council. She noted that it was "unfortunate" that Cr Cagney had mentioned that building as she thought it was a classic case of why we need a heritage committee. She said that the building was on heritage list but nobody could find out when it went on the list or why it went on to the list. Cr Campbell said she couldn't understand why it went on heritage list either because it was "as heritage as I am".
She commended the endorsement of the committee. She congratulated and envied Campbelltown Council, which uses its heritage committee to provide advice on development applications. Given the similarity between the heritage of the two councils she hoped that it may be possible in the future to work up to that level for the Camden Heritage committee as that kind of advice was well and truly needed.
Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke in favour of the heritage protection committee. She spoke to Cr Campbell's suggestion about the Heritage committee becoming involved in development applications, saying that as an advisory committee it could comment on development applications that are on exhibition at the time the committee meets. She compared this to the disability access committee, which meets every three months, and how it would look over development applications that are active at the time. She said not every meeting would review development applications but it would depend on the timing of those meetings and current applications. She said if every DA was referred to the disability committee it would hold up development applications if they had to review every one when they met. She definitely felt it was in the scope of the heritage committee to comment on development applications but development applications should not be held up specifically for the committee.
She supported the committee and said she looked forward two seeing the terms of reference.
The recommendation was passed unanimously.
ORD07: Update to the community sponsorship program.
This order of business relates to increasing the amount available for community grants. It has been a long time since has been a raise in this rate and a recommendation to index community grants to CPI and increase the current amount available drew consistent and strong support.
Cr Michael Morrison spoke in support of the update. He said this was a great initiative and he was pleased to see the wide range of grants. He highlighted the grant to Light Up Camden and the BMX championships. He did however have a question about the Punjabi Film Festival. He wanted to know what information was required and why it wasn't able to go ahead.
The Director Customer and Corporate Services, David Reynolds, said the application was received late and “it was very early in the sponsorship window” for this year. The film festival had also not yet confirmed its booking with Camden Civic Centre. Another event had since paid a deposit for that space. Despite trying to contact the organiser of the event they were unable to get the information they needed in time. However, as noted in the report, the Council continued to engage with the film festival.
Cr Morrison said he felt the Council needed to consider all members of the community and that it was important to consider other events. He concluded by saying he would support the recommendation.
Cr Eva Campbell spoke for the update to the program. She was pleased to see the support for the BMX state titles and felt it would bring a large audience. It was surprising to hear from Cr Campbell that the local Camden BMX club was the largest in New South Wales. She noted that three different car shows had received $2000 and wondered, with some amusement, if that was a reflection of our lack of public transport. Cr Campbell also pointed out that nearly half of the money was outlaid for Christmas events and this could have an impact on residents credit card bills in the new year.
Cr Paul Farrow had a question. He asked if it was still possible for the Punjabi film festival to be included in the budget.
Mr Reynolds said it could be considered as part of the quarterly review.
The recommendation was passed unanimously.
ORD08: Draft development infrastructure bonds policy
This order of business relates to developers and contractors working for the council being called on to pay a bond or guarantee to ensure that work is delivered to a standard required by the Council and on time. Submissions were received that called on the percentage amounts to be reduced from those included in the original draft. Some changes were made in response to these.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves spoke in support of the recommendation. He said he thought the policy to reduce risk and the organisation was a good one.
Cr Paul Farrow spoke against the recommendation. He started by asking how many submissions the council received in regards to the bonds policy.
The Director of Community infrastructure, Mr Peter Capaldi, replied that they had received six submissions.
Cr Farrow said he liked the fact that the Council officers did the research and put forward a policy of 50% of the costs of building based on that research, which had been benchmarked against other councils. But now, he said, “based on some submissions from developers we have reduced that. If only we had paid as much attention to submissions from the public".
He was briefly interrupted by Cr Cagney who asked him a quiet question to which he replied audibly, (thanks to the microphone being on), that he would wait to see if they could get this recommendation defeated first.
He then concluded by saying that the reason of the change in policy he would speak against it.
The bond policy was passed with a majority. Liberal councillors – Cr Michael Morrison, Cr Peter Sidgreaves, Cr Theresa Fedeli, Cr Lara Symkowiak and independent Cr Rob Mills voted for the development. Cr Cindy Cagney, Cr Paul Farrow and Cr Eva Campbell voted against the subdivision.
ORD09: Closure of the meeting to the public
The next discussion was in regards to a review of the organisational structure and as it would deal with personnel matters it should be closed to the public under section 10A(2)a of the Local Government Act 1993.
The vote to close the meeting for this item was passed unanimously.
When the meeting was reopened the councillors had agreed unanimously to adopt the proposed 2017 Organisational Framework.