Tuesday, March 5, 2013

DA 38/2013 Corner Chapman / Wongala

To  General Manager Hornsby Shire Council

Copies:  Hon Mayor, Robert Browne, C Ward Councillors.
DA 38/2013 Proposed development Wongala Crescent - Chapman Ave Beecroft
We write in relation to the above mentioned development application.  After careful review of the plans and details submitted with the development application, we have reached the opinion that the development is not compatible with either the Hornsby Council DCP Part 3: Heritage Precinct Development, or accepted engineering standards. 

Based on this review the Trust strongly objects to the proposed development for 36 units at the corner of Chapman Avenue and Wongala Crescent,  Beecroft.
The following paragraphs outline specific examples where in our opinion the development proposal is deficient:
Rear Setback Provisions
The development proposal appears confused in relation to the designation of the property boundaries.  Initially it appears that the applicant considers Wongala Crescent to be a front boundary and the western boundary, perpendicular to Chapman Avenue as the rear boundary.
However, in calculating the boundary setbacks it appears that the western boundary becomes a side boundary.
The basis of this interpretation is the applicant’s documentation.  The applicant assumes that any future development to the west of the subject site will consider the western boundary to be a side boundary, and therefore the applicant is entitled to also assume this boundary as a site boundary.
As a result of this interpretation the applicant attempts to gain an additional developable area of 120 m2 (3m x 40 m).
A review of the aforementioned DCP indicates the definition of a front and rear boundary. 
In our opinion there is no ambiguity in the DCP, the western boundary is the rear boundary.
As a result of the boundary re-interpretation the desired outcome of the DCP, to achieve a “Pedestrian friendly scale, adequate landscaping, open space and separation between buildings”, is compromised and inconstant with the prescriptive controls. We are unable to locate any reasonable justification within the development submission which supports the Applicant’s boundary interpretation.  Instead we consider the proposal to be a blatant misinterpretation of the planning controls.
Similarly, we have also reviewed the setback control provisions for the basement parking areas, which indicate that rather than providing a 9m setback the applicant is proposing a 4m setback. 
The setback provisions for a rear boundary were nominated within the DCP for a reason and should not be compromised.
Side Setback to Chapman Avenue
The DCP is very specific in that “regardless of the setbacks specified in the above table, all buildings and structures should be setback a minimum of 10 m from Chapman Avenue”. The applicant has setback the 2 levels of underground parking at only 4 metres. The Trust considers the setback requirements for Chapman Ave specified in the DCP as essential. The underground or basement parking is defined as a structure. Therefore the applicant has not satisfied the DCP requirements at all for Chapman Avenue.  This is another serious breach of the controls.
The Trust also wishes to remind Council that it entered into lengthy debates with the local residents in Chapman Ave over the housing strategy and the agreed compromise was a 10 metre setback that could not be varied. Relaxing this prescriptive measure by a massive 250% from 10 metres down to 4 metres is unacceptable and if permitted would create an undesirable precedent for other unit development along the full length of Chapman Ave  The 10 m setback for structures is to allow separation between the low density residential development in a heritage precinct on the northern side of Chapman Avenue from the 5 storey development across the street, and to allow a visual separation in the streetscape with substantial deep soil planting for permanent street trees.
In fact the existing trees fronting Chapman Avenue including a Sydney Blue Gum will not survive because there will be major excavation within their root zones.
Front setback to Wongala Crescent
The DCP clearly states that balconies can encroach into the front 12 metre setback up to 9 metres from the front boundary. The balcony for unit 5 on each level encroaches within 7.5 metres of the front boundary.  This major encroachment is a significant non-compliance that is unacceptable.
Housing choice
The proposed development fails to satisfy the desired outcome of providing a minimum of 10% of each unit type.  There are only two 3BR units proposed rather than the four required by the DCP.  Having a dominance of 2 BR units indicates that the applicant is not providing sufficient housing choice but instead seeking to maximise his financial return, at the expense of the DCP controls.
Site Requirements on consolidated developments
The prescriptive measures state a minimum street frontage of 30 metres for development sites. If an adjoining site is compromised then applicants must demonstrate that orderly and economic development can be achieved on the adjoining sites. 
The subject site abuts two residential zoned properties to the south being 23 and 23a Wongala Crescent.  These properties are wedged between the subject site and the Beecroft Arcade. which has a commercial zoning.  Unless Council amend the zoning boundaries it will not be possible to develop in isolation 23 and 23a Wongala Crescent, as they do not have a street frontage of 30m. 
The applicant appears to have ignored these adjoining properties, which is contrary to the aforementioned prescriptive measures. We understand that the applicant has not approached the owners of either 23 or 23a Wongala Crescent Development with the intention of site amalgamation.
Therefore the Trust strongly requests that the applicant must at the very minimum demonstrate that he has approached the adjoining owner seeking a consolidated site.    
Similarly with the adjoining site facing Chapman Ave to the west of the subject site. There is significant vegetation on this adjoining site and any development on it will require an integrated approach with the subject site in order to best achieve the Housing Strategy’s objectives. The Beecroft Road Precinct (residential portion) key principles diagram clearly indicates how the various lots should be consolidated in order to achieve the key elements, such as the integrated landscape setting. In fact to permit the subject site to proceed independently has the potential to make the precinct plan fail. 
The applicant must demonstrate how the current proposal does not adversely impact on the precinct’s key principles.  To date he has simply stated ‘not applicable’ in his SEE.  The Trust regards the applicant’s clear disregard of the key principles plan as a very serious matter, that if not properly addressed could jeopardise the implementation of the key principles of the residential precinct.
1.    Following on from the matter of site requirements and consolidation, access onto Wongala Crescent is located fairly close to the Chapman Avenue intersection and is likely to develop into a road safety issue with school children attending Arden School. 
2.    If 23 Wongala Cres is not consolidated into the subject site then Wongala Cres will end up having two driveways at 23 and another at 25 Wongala Cres as a minimum. 
3.    In fact for any independent development at 23 Wongala Cres its frontage will be only wide enough to serve as a driveway to any development located in the rear. This is not acceptable and is contrary to the DCP controls.
Stormwater design
We have reviewed the stormwater concept plans which provide an overview of the design intention.  Whilst we appreciate that the plans are only concept, we are concerned that they have been prepared without due regard for the proposed site topography, existing vegetation or generally accepted engineering principles.
The following details our concerns:
1.    There is no provision of overland flow from Chapman Avenue which has a documented local flooding problem.
2.    The adjustment of the existing ground levels in the south western corner of the site by approximately 800mm and the location of new stormwater drainage infrastructure appears to ignore the presence of existing trees which are nominated on the landscape drawing LPDA 13 - 107 as being retained.  What strategies are proposed to maintain these trees both during and after construction?
3.    The drainage pit in the south western corner is nominated on the storm water concept plan as being at RL 142.00, which is the lowest surface level on site. Whilst the surface level of the pit in Wongala Crescent is at a similar same level being RL 141.98.  It would appear that any blockage in Wongala Crescent would surcharge at the pit in the south western corner. 
We note that there is provision for an overland flow path from this pit to Wongala Crescent.  However, based on the surface levels provided we are unclear how a gravity drainage solution is achieved.
4.    The proposed 375mm storm water main in Wongala Crescent does not appear to nominate protection to street trees or coordination with other services installed within the Wongala Crescent.  Further it is unclear if it is possible to provide a gravity drainage connection across the Wongala Crescent footpath based on the presence of other authorities’ infrastructure.
5.    The proposed detention basin at the south eastern corner appears to have minimal soil cover of about 300mm. This is insufficient for the permanent retention of grass.
6.    The proposed rainwater tank appears to be installed within the driveway with a sloping concrete lid.  In the event of a surcharge from the tank it is unclear how water would be directed away from driveway which leads to the basement car parking areas.         
1.    The plan indicates an open space area in the south western corner of the site that is also to work as a detention basin. The plans indicate at least 800 mm of excavation around the existing trees.  This does not work and it is difficult to see how the existing trees can be retained. 
2.    The plans indicate that along Chapman Avenue there will be private open space above the basement car park.  Therefore there is insufficient open space for screening.  The residents of Beecroft were assured that there would be a 10 metre setback to allow for, amongst other matters, the opportunity for a decent vegetation screening.  The end result of the plan is that the intent of the 10 metre setback is negated. This is not acceptable.
3.    There are no details of additional street plantings and no attempt to improve the streetscape along Chapman Ave.
4.    The protection of the existing trees along Chapman Avenue, including a Sydney Blue Gum, appears to be compromised by the excavation of the basement car park and construction of the boundary fence.
5.    How are trees 27, 23, 24 and 21 to be retained and protected when the ground levels are modified
Shadow Diagrams
The communal area is located at the south western corner of the site.  The Trust questions whether the area will actually achieve the minimum 2 hours of sunlight each day in mid winter.
Top Floor treatment
The top floor patios do not really achieve anything. They appear to be an afterthought with poor amenity with the appearance of a desert of paving in a barren roof-scape. More thought should go into their function and purpose.
There is no information addressing privacy with the use of shutters or louvres. There is no mention of louvre screening on the eastern elevation, on the western elevation there is a vague reference, while there are no details for the western elevation. Full details are essential in order to lock in any future developer.  Any plans approved by council must provide full details of exterior wall treatments so the details are locked in. 
There are no details about the materials to be used on the exterior walls. More information is required. As stated above, any approved plans must provide full details of the treatment of exterior walls so details are part of the DA consent. Otherwise council will have no control over the finished product. 
The architectural plans must specifically nominate that the louvre shutters graphically shown are exactly that and that they are fully operable and extendable / retractable and  therefore able to comply with the intention of the DCP to provide operable privacy and shading devices as well as  façade aesthetic modulation
Floorplates and separations.
There is no separation in the basement levels for deep soil planting. The DCP clearly states with supporting diagrams that a minimum of 6m x 6m is required with no basement.  This is a serious omission that is not even commented on in the SEE.
Draft LEP 2013
The Trust notes that council’s DLEP 2013 went on public exhibition last year. Under the provisions of the EPAA these draft controls must be considered in the DA assessment. One of the draft controls relevant to this proposed development is the Floor Space Ratio (FSR).  The DLEP 2013 states that the maximum FSR is 1:1. The DLEP also describes how the FSR is to be calculated.  The Trust’s calculations indicate a FSR for the proposed development of over 1.4:1.  This represents a clear over development of the site by 40%, while the SEE is silent on the FSR.  Any development of this magnitude on this small undersized development site will set an unacceptable precedent for the rest of the Precinct.
In summary the Trust’s concerns are so serious that we seek Council’s absolute rejection of DA 38/2013.  The applicant’s dismissive interpretation of Council’s DCP and DLEP2013 leaves a lot to be desired with the over-development of the site.
This is the first DA lodged under the recently approved Housing Strategy and if not rejected outright by council it has the potential to create undesirable precedents that would seriously compromise future development at Beecroft and render many of the precinct’s key principles unachievable.
Yours sincerely,  
Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust

1 comment:

  1. Sensational response Peter - THANK YOU!

    What a comprehensive, well researched and well articulated response.