Ku-ring-gai Electorate Building Developments
|About this Item||Subjects||Planning and Development; Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council
||Speakers||O'Farrell Mr Barry; Gaudry Mr Bryce
||Business||Private Members Statements
||Commentary|| Sepp 5, Sepp 53
Mr O'FARRELL (Ku-ring-gai—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [5.51 p.m.]: I again raise the issue of the State Government's planning policies as they affect my electorate. I do so following the latest residents meeting held last Saturday at St Ives. The 200 people who attended reflected the local community's discontent with the Government's statewide planning instruments. At the outset I express some regret at the political undertones that were evident at the meeting. The political party Save Our Suburbs [SOS], which was trying to sign up new members at the end of the meeting, offers no help to those residents affected by the impact of State environmental planning policy [SEPP] 5 and other inappropriate developments on their homes, families, amenity and local infrastructure. The actions of SOS highlighted its cynicism in putting political interests ahead of the concerns of local residents who confront planning nightmares.
No-one could regret more than I the re-election of Labor in March and the continuation of its flawed planning policies. However, Labor has been elected for a four-year term and it was dishonest of SOS to claim last weekend that it could stop the planning policies that are currently the root cause of the problem confronting Ku-ring-gai residents. Unfortunately, that approach represents a continuation of the council politicking in this area that I have criticised before, the type of politicking that stupidly resulted in councillors contributing to delays in settling a residential strategy for Ku-ring-gai. It was stupid because it was based on the flawed view that if the issue was delayed and deferred it would somehow go away. Even a child learns that putting off a problem or a difficult task never makes it go away or any easier to resolve. Indeed, it often worsens the situation.
In this case Ku-ring-gai suffered as a result, as I have said before in this place, and the delay allowed SEPP 5 to run amok across Ku-ring-gai, which never benefited from the municipal-wide SEPP 5 exemptions obtained by those councils that had managed to reach agreement on their residential strategies. Instead, SEPP 5 developments have run rampant across our suburbs, and places like St Ives, Turramurra and Wahroonga have been changed forever. It is important that residents demand an end to this type of politicking by local councillors, which has worsened, not improved, the planning situation facing Ku-ring-gai.
This afternoon I want to raise two issues. First, as I indicated last month, there is a serious flaw within existing planning laws that is creating a major headache in areas like North Turramurra. I remind the House that last year, following community action led by the North Turramurra Action Group, the former planning Minister decided to exempt North Turramurra and similar bushfire-prone areas from further SEPP 5 developments due to concerns about access in the event of a fire emergency. It was a good decision, which was welcomed by the local community, and came about after the former Minister, Dr Refshauge, finally agreed to accept my invitation to visit North Turramurra to see the problem for himself.
Due to inconsistencies between the two SEPPS—that is, SEPP 5 and SEPP 53—developers are currently driving a truck through the ban the former Minister agreed to last year. The good news is that on 28 May the current planning Minister acknowledged the problem faced by Ku-ring-gai and announced a review. The bad news is that without a moratorium applying while the review is under way, developers are speedily lodging SEPP 53 applications. They are marketing similar developments to the same over-55 age group. Properties previously exempted from SEPP 5 or the subject of successful objections in the Land and Environment Court are now coming within the ambit of these developments. Last year the Land and Environment Court rejected one site because of the unacceptable level of risk of bushfire evacuation. This year council was required to approve it for development under SEPP 53. SEPP 5 applications are being withdrawn and replaced with the same or similar levels of density as a series of development applications for subdivisions down to areas as small as 400 square metres. At 233 Bobbin Head Road a 13-unit SEPP 5 proposal has been replaced with a proposed 12-unit development, that is, six attached dual occupancies.
Urgent action is required, not just to preserve the North Turramurra community and ensure adequate access in the event of fire emergencies but also to uphold the decision made by the Carr Government just seven months ago. More than 46 per cent of the population of North Turramurra is aged over 55 years, compared to a Ku-ring-gai-wide level of 27 per cent. Twenty-two per cent of the population of North Turramurra is aged over 75 years. I use this opportunity to plead for a moratorium or an urgent amendment to SEPP 53 in line with the bushfire-prone amendments to SEPP 5 to stop this bastardisation of last year's decision.
Second, I make a plea to the assistant planning Minister to respond positively to the requests for a meeting that I and Ku-ring-gai council have made directly to her. Some new people are now holding the levers of planning in this State, and only good can come from the assistant planning Minister hearing first-hand about the planning issues confronting Ku-ring-gai, the progress with the residential strategy and the need, in relation to North Turramurra, to resolve the conflict between SEPP 5 and SEPP 53. I have spoken to the Minister about this matter, and even though she could not attend the House this afternoon I am delighted that she has consented to meet council in August. It offers some hope, however slight, of progress. At this point, given the length of the saga and the adverse impact on the amenity and character of Ku-ring-gai, it is an opportunity that ought to be seized by councillors.
Mr GAUDRY (Newcastle—Parliamentary Secretary) [5.56 p.m.]: I thank the honourable member for bringing this matter before the House. Obviously he has also brought it to the attention of the Minister for Infrastructure and Planning and the assistant Minister. I am sure they have taken into account the matters he has laid before us today regarding SEPP 5 and SEPP 53, and his view about the manipulation of those planning instruments. I am sure that matter will be looked at.