Monday, January 30, 2012

DA1305 - Second Letter from the BCCT, other issues

Joint Regional Planning Panel
23-33 Bridge Street
NSW 2000

The General Manager
Hornsby Shire Council
PO Box 37 Hornsby NSW 1630

RE DA 2011SYW128 / 1305/2011
7-11 Hannah St and 129-131 Copeland Rd Beecroft
Second Response
Dear Sirs,


This document should be considered along with the First Response submitted by the Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust on 30 January.

The Trust objects to the above Development Application proposing development of 51 units across three buildings to be built in the Beecroft Heritage area.  The first response of 30 January argued that the application demonstrably fails to meet the character test.  This second response relates to other concerns held by the Trust and by local residents.

Community Responses

The response time limitation imposed by Council has not permitted distribution of bulletins or letter drops to the residents of the Beecroft / Cheltenham heritage area, all of whom are affected by this threat to the character of their lovely village.  But it is clear from responses received so far that this DA has elicited and will continue to elicit widespread vociferous protest, and Council will be required to defend any recommendation in favour of the application.

Other than a very small group of residents living around the proposed development, all other residents of Beecroft and Cheltenham whom the Trust has been able to contact consistently say they have heard nothing about this proposal from any Council communications.

Responses to an on-line survey have been 100% opposed to the overall application, and very nearly 100% negative to each of six specific questions asked about the application.

Comments from the public in response to one question, “Have local residents been given enough time (to 1 Feb) to consider the application?” include phrases like “unreasonable”, “an insult”, and “morally wrong”.  Perhaps the best quote from the many emails the Trust received was “the way it was handled by the Uniting Church to get this through over the holiday period was devious and I believe shows the Church and its officials up to be completely unchristian and morally bereft.

The Trust’s blog,, has received more hits in the last month than at any previous time in the blog’s history.  Public interest in this issue is obviously great.

Other individual residents and protest groups have independently been campaigning against this development, with petitions and street corner protests at Beecroft Village and elsewhere. 

Overwhelmingly the feeling is that the Beecroft Shopping Village, with its proposed large number of residential units, is enough to meet Beecroft and Cheltenham’s obligations to the NSW state government for extra housing.  The Uniting Church’s development proposal is without merit in its own right, and seems to be grossly excessive considering the existing approved rezoning of the Village.

Affordable Housing

The only question in the Trust’s email survey which has not provoked a unanimous “NO” response relates to affordable housing, where the responses are typically “Not sure, don’t know enough about it”, and this is very true.  There is indeed very little easy-to-read information about how the affordable housing will be implemented and managed.

Some responses have been very well researched and suggest that affordable housing is being used as a cloak to mask blatant profiteering by developers.  With the only long term requirement being that 20% of the units must remain in assisted resident hands after ten years, it is suspected that many “affordable housing” developments will be used by developers to sell off profitably 80% of the units. 

Presumably the other units after being sold off will be available for rent to all comers.  Some respondents are concerned that people from outside the area will apply for these cheap flats simply to get their children into the excellent local schools.  This is hardly fair to people who have grown up and raised their families in the area, who should be rewarded with primary access to those schools.


The scale of the proposed development is totally out of keeping with the existing housing in the neighbourhood.  As such, the proposal will have a very significant and negative visual impact in the area.  While it may to some extent be screened on the higher (Hannah Street) side, the fall of the land exposes the 5-storey scale on the other aspects.
This monumental scale will have a severe negative impact on the existing properties due to issues around overlooking and loss of privacy. There will also be significant loss of solar access to the existing neighbours.


The traffic survey commissioned for the review was conducted during school holidays, and therefore is clearly irrelevant.  In reality the existing road system and local parking provision is already highly congested, especially during business hours.  The RTA’s intended construction of a third railway track through Beecroft is expected to take out a significant portion of the commuter parking spaces currently available alongside the railway, further aggravating the traffic problem.  The anticipated, and already approved, development of the Beecroft Shopping Village precinct with mixed commercial and residential five storeys will further compound the traffic problem.  Nothing is planned to improve the road system in the area, so it must be considered the height of folly to add a further development to the area.

There is also community concern about egress from the development, especially in the morning rush hour.  The “S” shaped driveway feeding into Hannah Street, with blind corners, minimal passing bays and a steep grade, is a significant concern and would become a weakness and management problem for the complex.  Given the commuter parking along both sides of Hannah Street, exiting right into the traffic heading for Beecroft Road will be a serious problem with significant inherent accident risk.  Exiting left onto Copeland Road feeds directly into a school crossing, and drivers forced to wait for gaps in the long stream of traffic waiting to turn right will be likely to take steps that could put pedestrian school children at risk.


The development proposes very significant loss of trees across the site, both in the native and cultural landscapes. These trees represent a core element of this long-established neighbourhood, and their loss will impact significantly on both the flora & fauna of the area, and the overall character of the local landscape.

When considered with the ongoing attrition and loss of trees in other local developments, including that along the M2 and the Northern Freight Line, the overall significance of this proposed clearing is only heightened.


The SEE states that the house at 125B Copeland is currently already overshadowed  by trees, so a large building up sun of it will make no difference!  This argument is totally unacceptable under the development assessment regime.  Trees filter the sun and can be trimmed but a 5 storey building provides no relief.  Also trees look nice and most people accept their shadow and are indeed happy to live in a shaded woody glen.  That does not mean they would be happy to live under the shadow of a tower block. 

The other houses in Copeland Road will also suffer from a loss in amenity from overshadowing and loss of quality of outlook. While the other houses are further away from the proposed development they will still experience a shear wall of units towering behind their houses, which of course is completely out of character in the Residential AS area.  The houses in Beecroft Road will lose their rear outlook and privacy, with this block of units looking straight down into their back windows.


The BCCT and other local groups have done their best in the limited time allowed to bring this application to public attention by email and blog, but it is estimated that so far only a small percentage of the local population has been alerted to this hugely significant proposal with potential to damage the character of their suburb.

Even so the responses that have been received are all totally opposed to the Uniting Church’s proposal, on a wide range of planning, quality of life, livelihood, and ethical reasons.


The Trust has previously asserted that the proposed development demonstrably fails the required character test under clause 16A of the ARH SEPP.

This document, the Trust’s second response, covers some of many other concerns that residents of Beecroft and Cheltenham have brought to the Trust’s attention in opposing the application.

The Trust submits that the proposed development must be recommended for refusal.

Yours sincerely,  

Peter Hewitt

Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust

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