It brought up quite a bit of discussion and passion around the subdivision of lots over 600sqm in the growth areas like Oran Park, Gledswood Hills, Gregory Hills and Spring Farm. The outcomes are very important for current and future residents,
The subdivision of large lots is a major issue in our growth suburbs and it was clear that even those councillors who supported the subdivisions had concerns around the Growth Area policies that allow two two-story homes to be added to blocks barely larger than 300sqm. I would not be surprised to see the Council attempt to change some of the planning instruments in the future but in the meantime they have little choice but to approve these subdivisions.
In the meantime, Cr Eva Campbell offered advice on how to detect the possibility of future subdivisions on single blocks (if it is over 600sqm and on a corner, the block could be subdivided and two two-storey houses could be built there) and Cr Lara Symkowiak encouraged future residents to get the most out of their solicitors and conveyancers to avoid development surprises.
The meeting also produced the locations of water play parks and youth spaces after a report and recommendations were brought back to the Council. Residents in Elderslie, Oran Park, Curran's Hill and Harrington Park should be delighted.
There is a lot to get through below, but the commentary in this meeting really gave us a very clear indication of where individual councillors stand on important issue. With the exception of Cr Rob Mills who, to date, has yet to speak in any Council meeting.
Declarations of Interest
Five councillors had non-pecuniary interests in regards to Ord04, a multi-unit housing development on the corner of the Hume Highway and Wire Lane. The four Liberal councillors had insignificant non-pecuniary interests because they were members of the same organisation as one of the objectors.
Cr Paul Farrow had a more significant non-pecuniary interest and therefore elected to leave during the public address, debate and voting around this DA application.
There were four public addresses from Mr Joe Bacha, Ms Vanessa Tripodi, Ms Michele Stanford and Miss Kim Hawkes.
Mr Joe Bacha spoke in support of ORD01, a residential development at 10 Springs Rd, Spring Farm. He spoke on behalf of the developer Badul Laoulach who is the Director of Olmoty Pty Ltd. Mr Bacha was the consulting engineer on the project.
He noted that he had been driving the DA process from day one and that it had been a long process. He said he believed they had been compliant and the documentation they supplied had been satisfactory.
Mr Bacha said he appreciated the concerns about the loss of views and had factored these in. However, he said this was an emerging community and the land was specifically set aside by the Council for this use. He said that the developer was happy to work with the community to ensure that no one was adversely affected by the development.
He said Sydney is going crazy with building at the moment and this area was on land set aside for development. They were not looking for leniency but were happy to work with surrounding residents.
Ms Vanessa Tripodi spoke about ORD04, objecting to a multi unit housing development on the corner of 277 Old Hume Highway and Wire Lane in Camden South.
She was concerned that 33 residences on this site represented a significant overdevelopment. Ms Tripodi was also concerned about increased traffic congestion, particularly on the weekend, where she thought there was a significantly increased likelihood of accidents.
Ms Michele Stanford spoke against ORD002, objecting to the subdivision and building of two two-storey houses at 18 Hennings Way, Gledswood Hills.
It was worthy of note that she was disappointed that they were advised this was coming before the Council on the Friday before and this gave them very little time to prepare. This point has been made a number of times by various speakers over the past six months and it may be worth considering releasing the Council business papers a day or two earlier, if possible.
In regards to ORD02 she made a number of points.
Ms Stanford said the house ticked all the boxes according to the State Development Control Plan but they had been led to believe that only one dwelling per block was permitted in the area. The developer of the area, she said, had told a number of people the same thing but this is clearly not the case. She asked whether the DCP had been changed or could they have been misled by the developer.
She was concerned with overshadowing which was significant as they also had overshadowing from the two-storey building behind them.
Ms Stanford also felt the proposed structures were not in keeping with the streetscape and that the advertising for the area, as a masterplanned community enjoying the lush surrounds of Gledswood Hills, did not match up with their experience.
Miss Kim Hawkes spoke against ORD01: the residential development proposed for 10 Springs Rd, Spring Farm. She kindly provided me with her public address, which you can read in full here.
The Mayor, Cr Lara Symkowiak, delivered a mayoral minute praising Camden Council officers for achieving second place in the 2017 Australasian Management Challenge.
ORD01: 10 Springs Rd, Spring Farm residential development
This item was brought back to the Council following a deferral in the previous meeting. The deferral was the result of a substantial number of objections leading up to the meeting and the need for Councillors to visit the site to better understand residents’ concerns.
Cr Eva Campbell immediately proposed an alternate motion that the development not be approved. The motion was seconded by Cr Cindy Cagney.
Cr Campbell said the development was not in the public interest. She emphasised the 2011 Development Control Plan that talks about the importance of scenic landscapes and view corridors and then went on to say the development significantly affected these views for residents and not just those views from the pocket parks in the area.
She made a very clear distinction between the idea of view corridors and “little hallways” which were essentially glimpses of the Razorback range and Blue Mountains between large houses.
Cr Campbell also highlighted how the Elttlesdale Rd enclave of houses was a unique enclave of buildings that had distinct heritage character. “There is nothing like it in the whole of the Camden Local Government Area,” she said. She felt it was inappropriate, at a time when the Council was reviewing its planning instruments, to put a development of that bulk and scale in that area.
She also brought up sewerage issues – as Ettersdale Rd homes are not in a sewered area and water run-off issues that could occur as a result of the increase in hard surfaces with the new estate. Cr Campbell also suggested that this area has been flood affected in the past.
Finally she said agricultural and quarrying activities could impact residents at the new estate and may also impact those businesses that could see the EPA permissions for operations change with residential housing in that area.
Cr Paul Farrow supported the amended recommendation to refuse the development. He said he understood that nobody owned a view but residents had been in this location for 50 years.
He felt that in circumstance like these, when development arrived the Local Environment Plan counted for nothing. He suggested that perhaps existing residents should be given certain advantages when developments came to their area.
Cr Farrow was also concerned about flooding and run-off and expressed surprise that an area so close to Camden could have been without a sewer system.
Finally he noted the proximity of the quarry and compared this development with that proposed for 240 Macarthur Rd and wondered allowed why similar restrictions had not been opposed on the Spring Rd development.
Cr Michael Morrison spoke against the amended recommendation to refuse the development but had some questions for the Director of Environmental and Planning Services, Ms Nicole Magurren before he stated his reasons.
He asked when the area was rezoned as part of the Spring Farm Growth Centre. The answer was in 2004.
Cr Morrison then stated that he was concerned that councillors consistently wanted to set guidelines and then change them when they got to the point of developments coming before the Council.
He felt the developer had made an effort to maintain the views from public spaces, describing how plans had been altered. He said it appears the view will be maintained or the loss of view minimised.
He said the development met the Development Control Plan for the area and the Local Environment Plan. He said it was not responsible to ask someone to meet all the criteria and then in the next breath move the goalposts when individuals saw something they didn’t like.
Cr Cindy Cagney spoke for the recommendation to refuse the development. She did however have a question for Cr Eva Campbell, asking would Cr Campbell consider adding to the recommendation to refuse that the DA be resubmitted to the Council once the nearby quarry had concluded its extraction activities.
While Cr Campbell said she had other concerns beyond the quarry she did not have any “intrinsic objection” to making that change.
This amendment essentially created a new recommendation and so the floor was again open to all speakers.
Cr Cindy Cagney stated that she agreed with everything stated about the DA and the reasons to refuse it but her major concern remained the location of the quarry. She said heavy vehicle movements were an issue and the quarry’s owners were concerned the EPA guidelines may change with new houses in the area. “There could be legal ramifications for the quarry and their business operations,” she said.
Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke against the recommendation to refuse the development.
She said the area was rezoned in 2004 and the development was compliant. The subject site was not identified as an area of local heritage significance and the proposal was supported by a heritage impact statement.
The Office of Environment and Heritage did not raise any concerns.
The resource recovery centre was over 2km away and the development was outside the odour buffer zone. The noise and dust from the quarry were within acceptable limits.
Drainage had been considered. Road alterations were being made at the turn off to Macarthur and Spring roads.
Cr Eva Campbell then had a right of reply.
She reminded councillors that view corridors meant overall wide impressions of the landscape, not “view hallways”.
Cr Campbell said the councillors needed to do more than just tick boxes “because we are representatives of the community”.
She remained concerned about the impacts on agricultural and quarry activities and then went on to say that the odour buffer zone is an insult to the olfactory senses of anyone who knows how far the pong extends beyond the buffer zone.
The mayor interrupted and warned Cr Campbell saying that it is not insulting but that she, in her statement, was reporting a fact. “Be careful with those words,” she said.
As per usual there was a bit of pointless back-and-forth over the wording, which could easily have been left alone.
Cr Campbell returned to her point that the odour buffer zone was arbitrary and not realistic and then went on to say that the area was flood affected. She was concerned what may occur in a major flood event.
She said that although it was not listed, the “unique enclave” of Ettersdale Rd was special. With the impacts on view corridors, stormwater run-off, sewerage concerns, an inability to restrict the height of the development and the existing agricultural and quarrying in the area that it would best serve the public interest to refuse the development.
A vote was taken. The amended recommendation to refuse the development outright was lost with the Liberal councillors (Morrison, Sidgreaves, Fedeli and Symkowiak) and Cr Rob Mills voting against it. The Labor councillors (C Cagney, Farrow, A Cagney) and Eva Campbell voted for refusal of the development.
This brought the original recommendation to accept the development back into debate. Moved Michael Morrison, seconded Theresa Fedeli.
Cr Michael Morrison in supporting the development application commended the applicant for maintaining the views, saying that he didn’t believe when he drove down Macarthur Road that the development would impact on the view across the floodplain.
Cr Theresa Fedeli also supported the development while thanking residents for their submissions. She said it was unfortunate that Camden Council was seeing a lot of cases where residents were losing the vacant land close to them. “These changes will occur,” she said.
Cr Fedeli said she agreed with Cr Campbell that councillors had to look after the public interest but they also had to look after the interests of future residents moving into the area.
Cr Paul Farrow asked for an amendment to be made to the resolution. In the spirit of compromise he asked for an additional condition to be attached which would limit houses to single storey dwellings where the lots backed on to existing dwellings.
Before accepting the changes, Cr Morrison asked the Director of Planning and Environmental Services, Nicole Magurren, if such a restriction was challenged in court, what the likely outcome would be.
Ms Magurren said she was not a lawyer but that this could be challenged through State Government housing codes.
Cr Morrison said he would be happy to accept the amendment proposed by Cr Farrow.
This meant that councillors were now debating a new amendment and the floor was open to everyone again.
Cr Paul Farrow said he felt the amended recommendation was a good compromise. He said councillors were fortunate that much of the new development occurred on open land but where it impacted on residents, he expected councillors totake a closer look.
He understood it was hard to change existing rules but he felt there should be some safeguards for existing residents. He said as a council, “are we looking after the residents that are here or are we looking after the people who aren’t here yet?”
Cr Farrow said he didn’t believe the current Local Environment Plan does look after current residents but he would leave these comments for another time.
After another bit of backwards and forwards with the mayor over whether she was asking a question, making a comment or speaking against the recommendation, Cr Eva Campbell spoke against the recommendation to approve the amended development.
Cr Campbell said councillors had to make decisions for the community based on the knowledge we have. She said even if they left aside the valid concerns of the residents of Ettersdale Rd, there were still issues around odour, stormwater, flooding and the safeguarding of existing uses in the area. “These all affect future residents,” she said.
She said a lot of new residents will be in for a hell of a shock when a major flood event occurred.
Cr Campbell said she was not only standing up for residents but also standing up against the State Government’s existing code and housing standard, which seems to take a one-size-fits-all model.
She said she was worried those residents who are coming don’t know what they are letting themselves in for, “and that deeply troubles me”.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves spoke in support of the amended recommendation. He said he thought the amendment was a good halfway point. He said the development had been put together based on the guidelines of today and the past.
He then attacked Cr Campbell, saying she had been on the Council for 22 years and had 13 years to challenge the current zoning in this area and had failed to do so…
Cr Campbell then called a point of order. She claimed Cr Sidgreaves was talking about things of which he had no knowledge, including whether she had approved the documentation that came before the Council in 2004. “I doubt there is even an officer in the room who knows what was argued then,” she said.
Cr Campbell said she would not have her reputation impugned by someone who didn’t know what they are talking about.
Cr Symkowiak overruled the point of order, saying that a difference of opinion was not a point of order. She said Cr Sidgreaves had stated a fact that Cr Campbell had served on the Council and what had been put forward to the Council in that time. “A clear difference of opinion is not a call for a point of order,” she said.
Cr Sidgreaves continued
He said the point he wanted to make was that if councillors have a problem with a control document, it should be tabled and discussed rater than become an issue when a development application comes before the council.
He said that Cr Campbell had 13 years to challenge the zoning and had not.
Using the development controls for that zone as the basis, Cr Sidgreaves said it was a complying development and was suitable. It was consistent with the masterplan for the area. For those two reasons alone he supported the recommendation to approve the development.
Cr Lara Symkowiak then spoke in support of the amended application. She supported it but said she remained skeptical because potentially it could be challenged and then even outlined under what grounds it could be challenged. However, she said it was worth adding the amendment to show the Council’s support for Ettersdale residents.
She then went on to say that she hoped the development applications for the site would come through the Council as opposed to going through a private developer. (Ed – This comment surprised me. As did the previous one on the grounds for challenge, as both seemed to explain how to circumvent the amendment while the developer's representative was in the room).
Cr Ashleigh Cagney asked if she could move a foreshadowed amendment if the vote was lost. This was refused as the mayor claimed she had already asked for the right of reply from Cr Morrison. (Ed - My notes are unclear on this but I do not recall the right of reply being asked for or a call for questions).
The amended recommendation to allow the development to go ahead with height restrictions was passed with Cr Paul Farrow, Liberal councillors and Cr Rob Mills voting for it. Cr Cindy Cagney, Cr Ashleigh Cagney and Cr Eva Campbell voted againt it.
ORD02: Subdivision with two two-storey houses at 18 Hennings Way, Gledswood Hills.
Moved Theresa Fedeli. Seconded Michael Morrison
(This was an interesting debate that brought out strong positions on subdivisions of lots just over 600sqm that have regular cropped up in Council meetings. It also highlighted how to recognize those lots likely to be subdivided in existing estates and was very useful for residents buying into the growth area).
Cr Theresa Fedeli spoke for the recommendation to approve the subdivision and thanked the resident who gave a public address. She noted that the resident was not aware that the neighbouring block could be subdivided when she bought the property. Cr Fedeli acknowledged the issue but said that because this was permissible, she would be supporting it. She noted a past councilor would have said, “buyer beware” and she agreed with that sentiment.
Cr Paul Farrow spoke against the recommendation to approve. He noted the statement of buyer beware but said this should not have been allowable. “When you buy a block of land you expect a house to be built beside you – you might get a two-storey or a dual occupancy – but you do not expect two separate two-storey houses on two lots. He said when ever subdivisions of this sort appear there is always opposition and therefore he would vote to support the residents.
Cr Michael Morrison spoke for the recommendation to approve the subdivision. He said that the owner was entitled to put in the proposed subdivision because it complied. He said anyone would be allowed to do this as long as it was compliant and so he could see no reason why he wouldn’t support it.
Cr Eva Campbell spoke against the proposed subdivision. She said she had listened to the person talk about the area where they had decided to build their dream home and she had driven down Hennings Way. Cr Campbell said the proposed subdivision was not in keeping with the streetscape or the character of the area.
She noted that while the DA is permissible, it was “with the consent of Council”. “We have a role in defending our community – this consent is not automatic,” she said. In the future, she suggested, some houses could end up with a four-storey school or preschool beside them if a later document in this meeting came to pass.
Cr Cindy Cagney spoke against the development application. She said this was a massive overdevelopment of the site. The two-storey homes would only get three hours of sunlight in June. She suggested there would be parking conflicts. Cr Cagney said this estate was sold as a prestige, upmarket area and that the development was not in keeping with that character.
Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke for the development application. She said she felt for residents who bought into these growth area because a certain image had been portrayed by the sellers of the land in these areas. She said she had no doubt that buyers had been told they would be living beside single detached dwellings.
However, the State Environmental Planning Policies were formed for these growth areas in 2006 and the Turner Rd precinct in 2007 to allow a variety of housing styles. This development is completely permissible, she said.
She then asked a question of the Director of Planning and Environment Services, Ms Nicole Magurren, acknowledging she was not a lawyer. If this was refused and it went to the Land and Environment Court, what is the likelihood it would be approved?
Ms Magurren said the prospect of defending an appeal would be low.
Cr Symkowiak then asked how many of these types of subdivisions Ms Magurren’s unit would see that didn’t come before the Council. Miss Magurren said she was unable to answer that question and would take it on notice.
Cr Symkowiak said not to worry. She said her point was that any block over 600sqm in growth suburbs could be subdivided as the minimum block size was 300sqm. She said If the Council was to refuse every application of this type that came before them, it would need to refuse every other one of that type and then defend it in the Land and Environment Court. “It would be a completely reckless waste of Council’s money,” she said.
She said it was not about standing up for residents in an area but standing up for all residents and ratepayers who pay good money to the Council. The application met every planning control and it would be a waste of money to oppose it.
Cr Symkowiak said she understood Miss Stanford’s concerns as she would be unhappy in the same situation but she must support the application.
She called for questions
Cr Paul Farrow opened with a question to Ms Magurren. Cr Farrow asked if there was a way the council could make a submission to the State government to get the State Environmental Planning Policy changed in regards to subdivisions of single blocks.
Miss Magurren said the Council would need to approach the State Department Planning to make an amendment to State policy.
Councillor Farrow then asked if the council could change its own Development Control Plan and that if they did so, would it not carry some weight?
Miss Magurren said although there were various planning instruments this was a State policy and it would override the Councils Development control plan.
Cr Farrow clarified he was talking about the nature of subdivisions allowed and not the lot size.
Miss Magurren said it would depend what the Council hoped to change but that if it was around what was permissible in the Growth areas then it would require an amendment of the State policy.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves asked that if this occurred in its own Local Environment Plan, would the council be able to go through Gateway determination for that?
Miss Magurren said the Council could amend the subdivision rules outside of the Growth areas.
Cr Eva Campbell asked whether the council needed five counsellors to achieve such a change has there has not been an agreement on Local Environment Plan changes since 2002.
Miss Magurren confirmed this was the case.
Cr Cindy Cagney asked whether it was possible to designate that subdivisions of blocks above 600sqm could only result in single story constructions for dual occupancies or single dwellings?
Miss Magurren said the council could resolve to put various changes in the Development Control Plan but these had to be viewed in terms of a likely outcome if taken to court. She indicated that the State Control Plan for the Growth Areas was the dominating instrument. Further complicating matters, the State Environmental Planning Policy has a statewide code on housing heights that applies throughout New South Wales.
The subdivision was approved on a majority vote. The Liberal Party councillors and Cr Rob Mills voting for the recommendation and the Labor Party councillors and Cr Eva Campbell voting against it.
ORD03: Two-storey subdivision at 1 Spitzer St, Gregory Hills
Recommendation moved by Cr Theresa Fedeli. Seconded by Cr Peter Sidgreaves.
This subdivision of a single corner block into two blocks just above 300sqm and with two storey building is proposed as very much a repeat of the issues we have just seen in ORD03.
Cr Therese Fidelli opened the discussion by saying it had been assessed as compliant and she would be supporting the recommendation.
Cr Paul Farrow was again against the recommendation. He agreed that under the guidelines this subdivision was allowed but said we "didn't have to enjoy the fact". He said it would be good to see a number of councils send a clear message to the State Government by knocking back subdivisions like these.
Cr Eva Campbell spoke against the recommendation saying that there was a difference between something that was legal in something that was moral. She reminded the councillors of their vote on development around Currans Hill from the last meeting. Repeating mistakes like that would be unforgivable, she said.
Cr Campbell then asked the councillors to look at the map of the previous area where subdivision had been approved. She said that the blocks that could be subdivided "are sitting there like landmines". She noted they were invariably bigger, on a corner and often the last one sold because of the higher price.
She said she understood the State Government wanted a diversity of housing but it was not families buying these blocks but developers by. Cr Campbell then went on to point out on page 37 other areas where there were large blocks likely to be subdivided.
To make changes to this required five councillors minimum and that is the council had become increasingly politicised this had not occurred since 2002.
Cr Cindy Cagney also spoke against the recommendation to subdivide this block saying it was tragic to think about the people who had paid a high price for new homes to suddenly find themselves decide to development of this type. She noted she had received an email from a doctor who objected to the development saying this kind of building could lead to low hygienic micro environments. He has said the development would make his quality of living very low.
Cr Cagney said that sometimes the councillors had to make hard calls and this is what she was doing here. She said the development will cause overshadowing, issues with parking and was not suitable, so she would vote against it.
She said if the applicants decided to pursue this in the Land and Environment Court, she didn't see how a couple of hundred bucks was an excuse not to support the residents.
Cr Michael Morrison asked the Director of Planning and Environmental Services, Miss Nicole Magurren what the likely cost of a challenge in the Land and Environment Court.
Miss Magurren estimated it would be in the region of $20,000 plus additional costs.
Cr Morrison said $20,000 did not sound like a couple of hundred dollars to him. He said he supported the recommendation. At this moment he let out a rather large sigh, which seemed to be one of frustration.
He said there was a part of society and people who live within the community who can't afford to buy a “fourbedroom home on 1/4 acre block”. He noted the plight of divorced families, single parents who couldn't afford to buy a large dream home in Camden. He highlighted the issue with single dads after a divorce who had to pay child support and said they do not have the income to spend on purchasing the property.
He said at a time when everyone was concerned about home ownership that it made sense to have smaller properties available. He noted that driving through Gregory Hills and Gledswood Hills that most houses were on a single block of land. Cr Morrison said the councillors had to think about supporting the whole community and not just the people who can afford to spend $850,000 on land.
it was quite clear that Cr Morrison was very passionate about his concerns for those needing smaller houses but eventually caught himself and said, "this is compliant and I will be supporting the recommendation".
The meeting moved to questions.
Cr Paul Farrow started to ask a question but was then interrupted by the Mayor Cr Lara Symkowiak when he was giving a little background to that question demanding he asked the question immediately.
Cr Farrow then resumed. He asked if there was any way the council could set a quota for the number of blocks that could be subdivided in an area. His intention he said was to maintain transparency for residents before they built so they would be aware of blocks that could be air marked for subdivision.
Miss Magurren replied that they way to meet this would be to make lots of smaller than the minimum lot size required for subdivision but that the Council was a limited by the controls of the Growth Areas.
After questions, the mayor, Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke in favour of the recommendation to subdivide. It is perhaps worth noting that this is a common practice of mayor — to wait until all councillors have spoken and all questions have been asked to then sum up rather than engaging in the debate as it occurs.
Cr Symkowiak noted the State Labor government brought in the plans for the Sydney Region Growth Centres. She noted the council had made numerous submissions against some of the codes, including for the draft district plan at the last Council meeting.
She agreed with Cr Morrison's point that everybody had to be considered in the area and that a large four-bedroom house on a 600sqm block was not available to everyone. She reiterated his points about single and divorced parents and said she supported a wide variety of housing. "Affordable housing has been part of the planning tools for the past 10 years," she said.
Cr Symkowiak also addressed Cr Farrow’s question about making residents and potential buyers aware of blocks that can be subdivided. She said the key was minimum lot sizes and that a good conveyancer or solicitor should be asking questions about what is allowed next door. "People should be getting their money's worth and asking exactly what can be built around," she said.
The subdivision was voted on and approved with the Liberal councillors and Cr Rob Mills voting for the recommendation and the Labor councilors and Cr Eva Campbell voting against the subdivision.
ORD04: Multi unit housing development at 277 Old Hume Highway, Camden South
(Cr Paul Farrow leaves the chamber)
Moved Cr Michael Morrison. Seconded Cr Theresa Fedeli
Cr Michael Morrison spoke in favour of the recommendation saying he was excited by the development and that it was again about offering a variety of housing types for the community. He said the photos provided suggested it would be a fantastic development that would add to the streetscape.
While there were issues with solar access, who believed the communal open space available to residents would make up for that. He was also happy that a condition to place No Stopping signs on the northern boundary Road had been introduced.
Cr Cindy Cagney spoke against the development. While she said the previous building had been an eyesore she felt that this proposal was in overdevelopment of the site. She noted the communal open space was beside skip bins and there was a row of buildings down the middle of the block that limited where people could walk around. She said she would like to see it reduced by about 10 residences.
She also raised concerns about run-off and traffic congestion, noting a petition from locals had stated how difficult it was to get out of Wires Lane during rugby days or when Camden Valley Inn was holding a wedding.
Cr Cagney said the development looked of good quality but her prime concern with a number of dwellings on the block.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves supported the development saying it was of a high standard and provided housing choice. He said he did have reservations around traffic and parking but the conditions that included No Stopping signs alleviated these concerns.
He proposed a small amendment to the recommendation, asking that Camden Council write to Wollondilly Council to request they also add stopping signs on their side of the street.
He noted that it was better to have an accident from the development at Wire Lane rather than the Old Hume Highway. He felt the solar access issue was overcome by the communal garden and their close location of Camden Rugby Park.
He had some concerns around people buying into the development not being aware of Camden Valley Inn and asked for it to be added to a 149 certificate so that residents would be aware of the area they were buying into. There was a brief question and answer session between the Director of Planning and Environmental Services, Miss Nicole Magurren, and himself as they determined where this might be placed on the 149 certificate.
As a result, two amendments were called for. One, was the request to Wollondilly Council and the second was for an addition to the 149 certificate.
Cr Michael Morrison and Cr Therese Fidelli accepted the amended conditions and so the floor was opened to debate for all councilors again.
The meeting now went to questions.
Cr Eva Campbell asked how many units were originally proposed for the development. Miss Magurren said that when the development application was lodged there were 33 units.
Cr Campbell then asked if the number of units had decreased at all. Miss Magurren said earlier schemes prior to the development application being lodged had included more units.
Cr Campbell then asked for clarification wanting to know if the Council's request that dwellings along Camden Valley Way be moved back caused the overshadowing issue. Miss Magurren said the solar access issue actually related to dwellings along Wire Lane.
Cr Campbell appeared to misunderstand the answer and asked if there would have been a solar access problem if the residences along Camden Valley Way had not been moved back, saying "so, if we had left the dwellings forward we may not have had the solar access problem".
Cr Peter Sidgreaves then called a point of order, saying this is not what Miss Magurren had said.
The mayor then went to Miss Magurren for clarification, who cleared up the misunderstanding.
There was then another backwards and forwards between Cr Symkowiak and Cr Campbell over whether there was an opportunity for comments. As the order of business had moved into the question component there was no room for comments. Cr Campbell apologised for the misunderstanding saying, "thank you Madame Mayor for your forbearance".
While it was clear that there were some politicking going on here between the Liberals and Cr Campbell, I was impressed by the way Cr Campbell withdrew in a civil fashion and took the wind out of this before it moved into ridiculousness.
Cr Lara Symkowiak, in her capacity as Mayor, now spoke for the recommendation. She said she believed the development was of high quality and permissible. The solar access requirement while difficult for all of the dwellings here met the standard and importantly it complied with solar access to nearby properties.
Cr Symkowiak said the Roads and Maritime Services had raised no objections regarding the traffic and Council officers only saw an additional 33 car movements at peak times. She supported the introduction of No Stopping signs.
She felt drainage and stormwater issues had been sufficiently addressed by the design and that the number of units had been reduced from the original proposal before the development application stage. Putting the bins inside was done to maintain a good streetscape.
In conclusion she said it was a high quality development that supported a variety of housing. She felt it would contribute positively to the area with the amendments.
The development approval then went to the vote with the Liberal councillors and Cr Robert Mills voting to approve and Cr Cindy Cagney, Cr Eva Campbell and Cr Ashleigh Cagney voting against it. (Cr Paul Farrow returned to the room after the vote).
ORD05: Draft submission for the State Environment Planning Policy for educational establishments and childcare facilities.
Moved Cr Cindy Cagney, seconded Cr to Reza Fedelli.
A little bit of background on these first. The State Government exhibited a draft planning policy for educational establishments and childcare centres and called for submissions. At the same time it also exhibited proposed changes to the infrastructure section of the State Environmental Planning Policy.
It is possible to see the full detail of the proposed changes and the counter recommendations of Camden Council officers but in brief the Council officers put forward the following for approval:
- Signs on bus shelters would be regarded as exempt developments.
- Clear labelling of State roads.
- A detailed submission that advocates for child care centres to be sensitively designed in relation to the surrounding areas, particularly in terms of size, mass and scale. It suggests such centres are in keeping with the character of the surrounding area and that impacts to traffic and parking are considered. The State draft policy as it currently stands raises concerns that these aspects of educational development may not be considered.
Cr Cindy Cagney initially intended to move an alternative recommendation but then realised that she had miscounted the order of business. Once this was clarified she said she was impressed by the way the Council officers had simplified the report and she was very supportive of their recommendations.
Cr Eva Campbell also supported the recommendation and said that when she had read the State planning proposal she was increasingly concerned that the one size fits all approach was not appropriate. She also stressed that linking preschools with schools was fraught because while both were learning facilities how people used and move to and from them was completely different.
She then admitted to talking politics but said that the linking of non-government schools and government schools was an abrogation of the government's responsibility in education. She noted private institutions aimed to make a profit from educating students and get tax-deductible status, so they were effectively making their profits on the back of Australian taxpayers and local ratepayers.
Cr Campbell said the idea in the State Government proposal that traffic could be treated the same across all schools — whether metropolitan, opposite a railway station or rural — was nonsense.
She was pleased Camden Council officers had recognised the need for educational facilities have specific infrastructure, like playing fields, parking and drop off areas onsite. Cr Campbell noted the example of Elderslie Public School as a location where this hadn't been considered and the consequent issues. She also noted the Anglican School just down the road was using public playing fields for its physical education activities.
Cr Campbell was pleased to see that Camden Council officers did not support reducing community input into local planning outcomes around education facilities. "The notion of a four-storey school with no facilities provided just blows my mind," she said referring to the State planning proposal.
She said the Camden Council officers had done an excellent job with the submission but she would like a small amendment where it would be noted that the two areas of education — childcare and schools — had very different needs.
Both the mover and seconder of the motion agreed.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves supported the recommendation. He noted that he was generally sceptical of State Environmental Planning Policy documents but felt it was a positive step to split education and child care away from the main planning policy documents.
He noted from his experience on the Joint Regional Planning Panel that putting specific submissions to the State Government around the draft proposal for childcare was very positive. "I think it is a step in the right direction," he said.
The proposal was put to the vote and passed unanimously.
ORD06: Amendment to Camden Local Environment Plan for The Old Oaks Road, Grasmere.
Some background. This amendment aimed to rezone rural land to large lot residential. Importantly, this land it is on the ridge line overlooking Camden. It appears that the owner it is likely to subdivide and then have this land built on for residential purposes.
Cr Michael Morrison immediately moved an alternate recommendation to refuse the amendment. This was seconded by Cr Cindy Cagney.
Cr Morrison referred immediately to the Camden 2040 document, noting how it talked about the rural community and key directions focusing on the rural setting, trees, parks and natural open spaces of significant value. He noted it also talked about protecting views down the floodplain.
He then looked at the Grasmere Southwest district plan and its focus on protecting ridgelines and scenic landscapes. He said that nowhere in the application could he see anything that would make him think it would not have a substantial impact on the ridge line. Cr Morrison said he didn't believe the councillors would be protecting the ridgeline if they allowed this to go ahead. "I can't see why the applicant would subdivide the property without the intention of letting people put houses on them," he said.
Cr Morrison asked his colleagues to support the refusal.
Cr Cindy Cagney asked for an amendment to the refusal referring to page 71 and 72 of the Council report. She asked that the dot points on these pages be included to strengthen the reasons for refusal. Cr Morrison was happy to support that amendment.
Cr Cagney said like Cr Morrison she was concerned about the future of this area. She noted that over a few decades large parcels of land had been subdivided down and slowly become residential, which, she said, could be seen on the other side of the ridge line in Grasmere.
She went on to say that a number of rural pursuits could be carried out on 40 ha blocks of land including alpaca farming, market gardens and even she said, half jokingly, the growing of medical marijuana.
Cr Cagney understood that areas changed over time but that as a Council they had to draw a line on developments such as these.
Cr Ashleigh Cagney supported the refusal, saying she was pleased to see that protecting scenic views was something they were going to take into consideration.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves described the proposal as the thin edge of the wedge, saying that he had a sense of déjà vu when Cr Morrison gave his reasons for refusal. He reminded councillors of a Kirkham property that had come before them five times proposing something similar.
He said the rezoning proposal did not have technical merit, strategic merit or social merit hence he would similarly refuse it outright.
Cr Paul Farrow said he also supported refusal because the over buffer along the ridgeline had already been reduced from 400m to 300m. He noted the clash between subdivision and scenic values was highlighted in the report by Council officers. These had been included in the amendment put forward by Cr Cindy Cagney.
He noted that it was strange that in the earlier Spring Farm decision some councillors had ignored the issue of views but had taken them up in this case. He also supported refusal.
The alternate recommendation was put to the vote and the refusal was passed unanimously.
ORD07: Amendment to Camden LEP 2010 and DCP 2011 for Glenlee
Moved Cr Cindy Cagney, seconded Cr Eva Campbell.
Background: Currently the area to the south of the waste resource management facility south of Spring Farm and to the east of Camden Park is zoned rural. This proposal looks to change the zoning of the Glenlee Precinct (of which the majority is in the Campbelltown LGA) to a combination of general industrial and environmental conservation. The idea is to create an industrial employment zone that will not overstress local roads and will generate future employment opportunities.
Cr Cindy Cagney supported the recommendation saying the area had formerly been a coal loader and a green waste facility and that it was time for the precinct to be developed.
Cr Eva Campbell said she was aware this had been on the horizon for a while. She believed proposed rezoning and development could decrease emissions from the current site and improve local air quality.
She noted road access through Camden could be an issue and thought it might be useful for Camden Council to advocate for a rail link through this area as they did in 1999. She felt that if this could be included as part of the proposal then it would make it even stronger.
The proposal went to a vote and was passed unanimously.
ORD08: Community financial assistance policy review
Moved Cr Peter Sidgreaves. Seconded Cr Michael Morrison.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves said he believed this was simply an administrative issue because the amounts going to the community small grants award had not been reviewed in a long time. He agreed with the change to raise it from $5000-$6000 and to index the grants against CPI increases. He fully supported the recommendation.
Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke in favour of the recommendation. She noted that in her time on council she didn't remember any increase in these programs and that to build on the CPI going forward was only fair.
She was pleased that the grant for special achievers, which used to be a one-off payment of $500, now had the capacity for these achieve his to return to the Council and apply again. "I think special achievers are also regular achievers and I think increasing the opportunity for them to come before Council once every term has a good thing," she said. Cr Symkowiak even suggested increasing this to once a year as a possibility.
Cr Symkowiak was pleased that donations for charitable purposes has increased from $500-$700 and noted that a couple of home fires over the past few months highlighted how important these donations were. She said helping residents who are in dire need was a good thing for the council to do.
The recommendation was put to the vote and passed unanimously.
ORD09: Delivery program six month progress report
Moved Cr Cindy Cagney. Seconded Cr Peter Sidgreaves.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves said he thought it was a good achievement that 93% of projects were on track and congratulated the Council officers on delivering on the programs. "We are very much on track to deliver what the community wants," he said.
Cr Theresa Fedeli agreed and congratulated the staff on the good work.
The recommendation was passed unanimously.
ORD010: Water play parks and youth play spaces
Moved Cr Therese Fidelli. Seconded Cr Peter Sidgreaves.
Background: Camden Council officers have now returned a report and have recommended four areas for either water play parks or youth play spaces. Those areas are:
- Water play parks
- Town Park, Oran Park.
- Curry Park, Elderslie.
- Youth play areas
- Harrington Park Lakes, Harrington Park
- Sedgwick Reserve, Currans Hill
Cr Therese Fidelli said she was happy to support this recommendation and felt that the Camden Council officers had found the four best locations. She said if Birriwa Reserve was any indication that the community would embrace the four parks.
Cr Peter Sidgreaves also supported the recommendations. He said they were very important for recreation and that this was something the Council had focused on in both this and the previous term.
He noted that like many residents he commuted out of the local government area to work and so the weekends he could spend with his children were valuable. He said these parks gave him the opportunity to spend quality time with his children and that Birriwa reserve had been nothing but an outright success. "I think it is fitting that we put more money into these types of facilities for other locations in the local government area," he said.
Cr Paul Farrow said he was also on the same page with this and said it was fantastic to deliver these parks. From a purely selfish perspective he was delighted that his ward had been selected to host a water play park and that it would complement the main street and businesses of Camden.
Cr Lara Symkowiak was pleased to see the report come back after the two notices of motion from the previous year. She highlighted a great pickup by the staff of the Director of Community Infrastructure, Mr Vince Capaldi. She noted they had advised that Town Park in Oran Park was already getting a substantial water feature and suggested these resources could also be used to develop a water play park for half the cost. "That was just a fantastic achievement and we really thank Mr Capaldi and the staff for that pickup," she said.
She also mentioned that these water parks would not be on the scale of Wet n Wild as the council did not have those resources. She said the $4 million spent on the additional leisure facilities was an excellent achievement and that she would be pleased that this would be achieved within an 18-month timeframe. She also noted that another reason that these parks would not be of the scale of a Wet n Wild facility was because they did not intend to make money but remain free for the community.
"The water play parks were particularly for young children who may not be competent swimmers or have special needs, so they can have fun in the water and cool down in the hotter months but not in a pool environment," she said.
As for the youth spaces, she said the initial feedback was that there might be some BMX jump elements and other different elements at Currans Hill. She also noted that while these were called youth spaces, it was clear from Birriwa Reserve that these parks were readily used by adults as well.
She said she looked forward to community consultation and hearing the ideas about what is wanted at these locations. "I think this will be one of the best projects that the Council does during this four-year term," she said.
The recommendations put to the council and passed unanimously.
The meeting (finally) closed.