There were four key items in this meeting
- the development of 10 Springs Rd, Spring Farm;
- the leasing of 85 Richardson Rd, Narellan, to a Montessori preschool;
- proposed amendments by Council officers to the draft South West District Plan; and
- a Notice of Motion by Cr Ashleigh Cagney examining the creation of transitional zonings between Smeaton Grange and the residential areas that are or will be beside it.
While these might seem quite dull, there were some important issues raised in this meeting for current and future residents – particularly as it relates to the South West District Plan and the report on creating a transitional area between the Smeaton Grange industrial estate and residential areas.
Now, down to business.
ORD01: Residential estate development of the 10 Springs Rd, Spring Farm.
There has been significant opposition to this development by local residents, including phone calls on the day of the meeting. A particular concern was the loss of views to the Razorback and Blue Mountains, which must be maintained according to the Camden development control plan.
This prompted Cr Paul Farrow to put forward an alternate motion, asking for councillors to defer the motion, so councillors could make a site inspection.
The amended motion was accepted and passed unanimously.
ORD02: Amendments by Council officers to the draft South-West District Plan and amendments to the plan for A Growing Sydney.
Council officers picked up some significant concerns in these reports and, as Cr Theresa Fedeli noted when she opened the discussion, Camden Council staff will have a lot of work ahead of them to respond to some of the blanket recommendations in these reports.
It is worth noting that these reports seem to struggle to distinguish between green-field growth areas, like Camden, and heavily developed areas closer to Sydney. It’s a point the mayor, Cr Lara Symkowiak, has repeatedly and strongly made in Council meetings.
Cr Eva Campbell said the reports and proposed plans for wider Sydney were the best opportunity we have had in a while to get planning for the entire basin and Camden. She was concerned about the loss of viable agricultural land in the Sydney basin; poorly planned and bland developments; and the rise of the aerotropolis with the planning required for that to be successful and its environmental impacts that appear to have been ignored.
Cr Cindy Cagney wanted to know if certain areas could have decisions made ahead of the overall plan, particularly Leppington.
The Director of Planning and Environment Services, Nicolo Magurren, said discussions were already underway with the Greater Sydney Commission and Department of Planning and Environment, where they were still waiting for a firm commitment to areas like Leppington. “There is no reason why that (development) couldn’t be commenced immediately if they agree to it,” she said.
Cr Cagney then asked if the Council’s suggestions weren’t agreed to, would there be any recourse to another body?
The Manager for Strategic Planning, Tina Chappell, responded saying yes because the concept plan for Leppington was at a district level and so some of the detail wouldn’t rise to the departmental level. This allowed Council officers to continue to work through specific items, like Leppington, from a regional perspective.
Cr Cagney said she asked the question because during a briefing by the Commission it appeared the Commission’s concept for Leppington seemed different from her understanding. She said it would be an issue if planning for Leppington was dragged out as she felt it was instrumental in the planning for the entire district.
The mayor Cr Lara Symkowiak spoke in favour of the amendments and specifically supported the amendments around transport, health, education and the issue of the $30,000 contributions cap for developers. This latter items is clearly a bugbear for the mayor, and rightfully so.
She supported the focus by Council Officers on the Leppington-Narellan rail link, the route from Narellan to Macarthur, the Bagdally Rd extension and the Spring Farm Parkway extension. Cr Symkowiak also agreed with the report that a new public hospital was needed in the area, a new university and a TAFE at Leppington.
The contributions cap remained a significant concern, as did the government’s proposed definition of essential infrastructure (land) and non-essential infrastructure (the buildings on the land). A $30,000 cap, she said, would seriously impact the Council’s budget and the kind of communities that could be delivered in Camden. She wanted a comprehensive review of the cap.
The amendments proposed by Council Officers were passed unanimously.
ORD03: New Montessori preschool at 85 Richardson Rd, Narellan
The Montessori Academy Group was awarded the lease for this block after a competitive tender. They had the most competitive tender and intend to refurbish the buildings, outdoor play areas and upgrade the landscaping.
Cr Eva Campbell asked if the education program being offered was considered as part of the tender.
The Director of Customer and Corporate Services, David Reynolds, said this was not part of the assessment but that the group has a particular style that is well known in the community and provided quality preschool and early education programs.
Cr Campbell acknowledged the Montessori method and said that she felt it would be a major boon to the community.
The mayor, Cr Lara Symkowiak, also supported the motion, emphasising the substantial refurbishment and the investment. With the Council also receiving money for the lease she felt it was a huge win for the community.
The recommendation was passed unanimously.
ORD04: Proposed park names for Gregory Hills.
Cr Cindy Cagney noted that Dartwest had again found names of significance to the community. The names are Cunningham Park (Brother Clarence Cunningham), Howard Park (Brother Charles Howard), Gillogly Park (Brother Mark Gillogly), Gregory Hills Park, La Valla Park (the valley in France where the Marist Bothers was founded) and Saunders Park (Brother Anselm Saunders).
ORD05: Investment monies – February 27
This is pretty much housekeeping. Passed unanimously.
ORD06: Notice of Motion to bring back a report investigating creating transition zoning areas between Smeaton Grange and residential areas in Currans Hill and those proposed for Turner Rd precinct.
Cr Ashleigh Cagney proposed this notice of motion.
This notice of motion could result in a precedent that may see new transition zones established between other residential and industrial area. Such zones have already been proposed for other areas in the South West Growth Area.
Ashleigh Cagney said the motion aimed to strike a fairer balance between businesses that operate out of Smeaton Grange and the families that live on the borders. She noted that Currans Hill residents repeatedly had to fight off inappropriate applications, highlighting the hot dip galvanising plant and a waste facility.
She said she understood that the community needed jobs but it was equally important for residents to be protected.
Cr Theresa Fedeli indicated it was important to get behind the residents and said she would support the motion.
Cr Cindy Cagney said she supported the recommendation and that this was the right time to put such a motion forward. She noted that after sitting through a briefing by the Greater Sydney Commission that it was clear there would be a large amount of industrial and commercial land becoming available between Camden and Badgerys Creek.
She felt shift workers would appreciate the creation of a transition zone and said that the noise allowed in an industrial area would be unacceptable in a residential area. The fine line between boundaries meant that some residents would experience noise that would be unacceptable in any other location.
Cr Eva Campbell said the bottom line of proposal could be found in the phrase “a fine line”. She remarked that her concern about these fine lines arose when hoteliers bought land right on the edge of a commercial zone, so that it was absolutely next to homes.
She said she had been advocating for a buffer between zoning lines. She said she was aware that areas in transition, like Little Street, Camden, were problematic and there were legal implications around changing zoning if someone had already purchased a block of land with an expectation.
However, she said what had happened to Currans Hill residents may not have been illegal but it was morally questionable. She said the developers had the opportunity to place public parks as a buffer between Smeaton Grange and Currans Hill but instead chose to place the parkland in the worst, most flood affected areas of community land.
She concluded by saying the review was timely because people, above everything else, count.
Cr Michael Morrison started by asking if Council officers knew the cost of the galvanising plant, as it was to be assessed by a Joint Regional Planning Panel. While an exact figure wasn’t forthcoming it was over $20m.
Cr Morrison then went on to support the recommendation but somewhat reluctantly. He was bothered that the Council would zone an area and encourage business to come in and invest in that area and then appear to change that zoning. He said Camden was severely lacking in jobs and it was vital that businesses put mor jobs into the community.
“I don’t like the idea that somebody might spend millions of dollars on a property purchase to create a business and then have the council take it away because we don’t like what is proposed,” he said.
He was concerned changing zoning would encourage businesses and investment to go to Penrith or Liverpool.
He noted and commended the Council officers’ submission for transition zoning arrangements for the south west growth areas to reduce land-use conflict. He said he thought this was important moving forward but the Council had to be mindful not to discourage investment, particularly for large amounts of investment.
Cr Paul Farrow said he could relate to some of the comments made by Cr Morrison and that there needed to be investment certainty. However, he said Council should not put residents in a position where they have to sit back and wait, not knowing what potentially could come and left hoping that it was suitable.
He commended Cr Ashleigh Cagney for the motion saying it was a productive way of dealing with conflicts up front rather than waiting for an application to land and for residents then to start public campaign to get the Council’s attention.
Cr Ashleigh Cagney kept her right of reply short saying, the point of the motion was not anti-business but it was about getting the right businesses into the right locations.
The notice of motion was passed unanimously.