Monthly Chronicle - - The Village Voice - NOEL OXLEY

This month we’re con­sid­er­ing the in­her­ent con­flict be­tween bal­anc­ing the need to stream­line hous­ing ap­provals by re­mov­ing un­nec­es­sary bu­reau­cracy, with al­low­ing lo­cal res­i­dents to comment on de­vel­op­ments ad­ja­cent to their prop­er­ties.

The Trust ac­knowl­edges the need for more hous­ing in Pen­nant Hills pro­vided de­vel­op­ments are sym­pa­thetic to the her­itage and en­vi­ron­ment of our sub­urb, and al­low for rea­son­able com­mu­nity in­put.

The Pen­nant Hills Town Cen­tre master plan which Hornsby Coun­cil is now work­ing through, is the ve­hi­cle to gather com­mu­nity in­put for what we want as the fu­ture of Pen­nant Hills, yet the Medium Den­sity Hous­ing Code which the State Gov­ern­ment is con­sid­er­ing, has the po­ten­tial to over­ride the com­mu­nity’s pref­er­ences.

The Medium Den­sity Hous­ing Code pro­poses that medium den­sity hous­ing, in­clud­ing town­houses, ter­races, dual oc­cu­pan­cies and sub­di­vi­sions, be classed as Com­ply­ing De­vel­op­ments and not be sub­ject to the usual DA process.

A Com­ply­ing Devel­op­ment is a low-im­pact, rou­tine devel­op­ment, such as a new dwelling-house or al­ter­ations to a dwelling-house in­clud­ing bal­conies, ve­ran­das and swim­ming pools The devel­op­ment doesn’t go be­fore Coun­cil and the devel­oper would hire a pri­vate cer­ti­fier to ap­prove and cer­tify the devel­op­ment. There’s no op­por­tu­nity for neigh­bours or any­one else to comment.

While rea­son­able for low im­pact de­vel­op­ments, the con­cern of the Trust is that these creep­ing re­lax­ations of con­trols may ul­ti­mately be ap­plied to apart­ment build­ings with all the detri­men­tal ef­fects this will have on the vil­lage na­ture of Pen­nant Hills.

Larger, higher im­pact de­vel­op­ments should be sub­ject to a full as­sess­ment and ap­proval pro­cesses. The com­mu­nity must have a voice on ma­jor de­vel­op­ments which change the char­ac­ter of our en­vi­ron­ment.

This is re­ally im­por­tant in eval­u­at­ing the cu­mu­la­tive im­pacts mul­ti­ple code-as­sessed dwellings have on lo­cal neigh­bour­hoods, parks and com­mu­nity ser­vices. We have seen this al­ready on a small scale in Pen­nant Hills; we don’t want it to be­come the norm. The Trust be­lieves • Com­ply­ing Devel­op­ment should not be ap­plied to medium den­sity hous­ing be­cause it will in­crease the like­li­hood of poor de­sign and amenity in­com­pat­i­ble with lo­cal con­di­tions; • Devel­op­ment Ap­pli­ca­tions should be re­tained for all medium den­sity ap­pli­ca­tions and lo­cal Councils should be the plan­ning author­ity; • Medium den­sity hous­ing lots can be as small as 200 square me­tres. As part of the DA process, Medium Den­sity pro­pos­als should ad­dress is­sues such as green space pro­vi­sion tree canopy and whether cur­rent in­fra­struc­ture is ad­e­quate.

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