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This proposal had come back to council after Councillors had rejected to original proposal on 27 November 2017.

On 28 February 2018, the applicant sought a Rezoning Review with the Sydney North Planning Panel. At its meeting of 2 May 2018, the Sydney North Planning Panel recommended that the Planning Proposal should be proceed to a Gateway Determination subject to amendments.

At its meeting of 2 May 2018, the Sydney North Planning Panel heard the matter. Council provided written commentary to the panel beforehand indicating their reasons for refusal and provided an oral submission on the day as to why it should not be supported. The following day the Panel determined the Planning Proposal should proceed with substantial amendments that were not communicated or discussed previously.

Rather than pursuing an amendment to Schedule 1 of the Pittwater Local Environmental Plan 2014 to introduce seniors housing as an additional permitted use the Panel supported a straight rezoning from E4 Environmental Living to R2 Low Density Residential, and a recommendation to investigate expanding the subject area to include 13 additional properties up to Irrubel Road.

Significant concerns were raised regarding this decision. An extract from Council’s letter to the Planning Minister in relation to this matter is provided below:

This decision represents an egregious overreach by the Panel. In making this decision, the Panel are in breach of the Planning Panel Operational Procedures which state as follows: “The Panel’s determination should provide a clear decision on whether the planning proposal before it should proceed, or not proceed, for a Gateway determination rather than recommending improvements”. Clearly the Panel have not followed their own Operational Procedures. Rather than making a decision on the proposal before it, the Panel have significantly expanded the scope of the proposal. In making this recommendation the Panel has exceeded their authority. Further, the Panel are ignoring the newly published North District Plan which states that “Councils are in the best position to investigate and confirm which parts of their local government areas are suited to additional medium density opportunities”. The Panel are seemingly attempting to step into the role of Council and undertake strategic planning on our behalf on a Planning Proposal by Planning Proposal basis. The Pittwater LEP 2014 is less than 5 years old and Northern Beaches Council is on track to achieve our housing target. We are committed to preparing a housing strategy to address growth. The demand for seniors housing is recognised however, there are literally hundreds of other sites within the northern beaches where seniors housing is permitted. These sites can yield thousands of seniors housing apartments.

Accordingly, to change the zone of these lots is unnecessary and unwarranted. The development and gazettal of the Pittwater LEP was undertaken following extensive investigation, research and community consultation.

The first objective of the E4 Environmental Living zone is as follows:

  • To provide for low-impact residential development in areas with special ecological, scientific or aesthetic value.

Every residential property that fronts the Pittwater Waterway is zoned E4 Environmental Living on the basis of ‘aesthetic value’. The Panel have taken it upon themselves to arbitrarily dismiss this and make a decision which sets a precedent that will undermine the consistency and integrity of this zone and all it sets out to achieve. There are also serious site specific issues related to this recommendation. Nine of the additional lots recommended to be rezoned are subject to medium or high risk flooding affectation.

Additionally, the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) (SEPP (HSPD) contains site related requirements that include the need for a site to be within 400m of a bus stop. All of the additional sites are beyond 400m from the nearest bus stop. Accordingly, these properties should not be developed for seniors housing in accordance with SEPP (HSPD).

Having regard for the above, we request an immediate review of this decision. An extract from the response from the Department of Planning and Environment is provided below:

The Panel unanimously determined that the proposed instrument should be submitted for a Gateway determination because the proposal demonstrated clear strategic and site-specific merit. The Panel supported the planning proposal's objective to allow for seniors housing on the site; however, it recommended an alternative mechanism to the proponent's submission to achieve this objective, being rezoning of the site. The Panel considered that an R2 Low Density Residential zone would be more appropriate to achieve the proposal's intended outcome rather than an additional permitted use in Schedule 1 of the Pittwater Local Environmental Plan 2014. In the reasons for their decision, the Panel recommended to the delegate of the Greater Sydney Commission, the additional investigation and rezoning of land in the immediate vicinity of the site, including the 10 lots north of the subject land. Through the rezoning review process, the planning panel determines whether a proposed instrument should be submitted for a Gateway determination based on the strategic and sitespecific merits of the proposal. The panel's recommendations are then taken into consideration when the planning proposal is submitted to the Department for Gateway determination. The Department is currently assessing the submitted planning proposal for a Gateway determination. I would like to assure you that whilst this includes consideration of the Panel's recommendation, it also considers the information in the planning proposal. The planning proposal does not include the additional land referred to by the Panel and this will mean that the relevant planning and environmental studies are not available for assessment and a subsequent Gateway determination decision by the Delegate of the Greater Sydney Commission. Given the substantial changes proposed by the Sydney North Planning Panel, Council sought to be the Relevant Planning Authority (RPA) for this Planning Proposal. This means Council is now responsible for the preparation of a Planning Proposal and subsequent Management of this proposal through the plan making process. Council has subsequently prepared the Planning

In accordance with the Minister for Planning’s Local Planning Panel Directions, the Planning Proposal must be referred to the relevant local planning panel first, before being forwarded to the Department of Planning and Environment and the Minister for a Gateway Determination. Subsequently the proposal has been prepared for the Panel’s advice.

On 14 June 2018 Council agreed to be the Relevant Planning Authority for the Planning Proposal. This requires the preparation of a Planning Proposal, and subsequent management of this Proposal through the plan making process.

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