Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Seniors Residences on Beecroft Rd

DA 1394 / 2013 is for 10 senior residences to be built at 186 Beecroft Rd.

This was submitted 16 December 2013, it seems to be standard policy for developers to submit applications just before Christmas to minimise opportunities for comment.  The Trust has argued before that the time to respond to such applications should be extended, but so far Hornsby Shire Council has not accepted this recommendation.

The Trust received the following summation of the problems with this application from one of our members, if you agree (or disagree) be sure to let your council know:-

Further to our correspondence on the application for development of 186 Beecroft Road (DA/1394/3013), we spent the weekend working over the documents and we can now outline what we think are some major issues for consideration by the Trust.

1. The scale of the development is totally out of keeping with the rest of this low-density-housing, single-family-occupied (R2) heritage precinct. The proposed development is also unsympathetic to the nature of the site.

2. As well as many other trees, the development requires the removal of 11 out of 28 turpentines. The justification in the arborist's report is that they are all healthy, but in the way of the development, and may be removed because there are others on site. These turpentines are part of a remnant original turpentine forest, possibly the best remaining in the whole Beecroft-Cheltenham area. They are true heritage trees. The stand is centred on 188 with a major proportion on 186, the site under development, and smaller portions on other adjacent blocks. As the development design concept states, this stand of trees is simply dramatic. What irony it is that a significant proportion of this remnant forest has to be cut down so that the new occupants can properly enjoy the stunning (but much depleted) environment!

In recent times, indeed since its inception, the trust has played a decisive role in protecting even non-heritage trees in our area and we would hope a similar interest would be shown in protecting this remnant stand of turpentines. Some of the trees to be removed are truly magnificent big and gnarled old specimens. The tree stand as a whole must be 100-200 years old. For over 40 years, small turpentines have self-seeded and grown to spindly saplings - and that is in a carefully preserved forest environment. We will all, even the youngest of us, be long dead before these saplings grow to maturity. The developer's idea, perhaps aided by the arborist though I do not see this in his report, is that these trees can be readily replaced, which is nonsense. They are not fast-growing like eucalypts. Once removed, they will be gone forever. Without question, there is no more room left on the development site for more canopy trees. New turpentines will never be grown there, or anywhere else by substitution. Who would nurture them for 100 years? It is a fiction.

The great pity is that there is plenty of site area available on 186 for development without destroying our heritage. It requires some application and inventiveness - for example turpentines can penetrate a deck area with beautiful effect. Specimen trees can be surrounded in courtyards.

3. The site could hardly be more poorly chosen with its only entry and exit being Beecroft Road at the busy T-junction with The Boulevard, which is the major RH turn for traffic accessing properties on all the northern side of Beecroft road. During peak hour traffic one frequently waits ten minutes for a safe exit from these houses. Year by year the traffic problem becomes worse as more and more development takes place towards the northwest of Sydney. It is hard to imagine what the traffic will be like in 10 years. We note that there is onsite parking associated with the development for about 20 cars including visitors. There is no safe street parking on Beecroft Road, Cheltenham, and nobody tries to do it. Fast traffic coming around the bend from the overpass with only a couple of seconds to adjust to a car parked on the road ahead, is a recipe for disaster. Nevertheless, with limited parking space on site at 186, visitors will be tempted to park on the road, as they do outside the Beecroft Nursing home, Beecroft - where, however, cars parked on the road can be seen for a long distance ahead. Should this happen, the visibility from the driveway of other properties along this stretch of road will be impaired and the danger of exit made even greater.
Locals know never to try to enter a driveway from the opposite side of Beecroft Road - there have been too many serious accidents. But visitors do not know the back street routes available to enable enter driveways with safety from the same side of the road. The only other locally comparable development is Chesalon, also on Beecroft Road, but with an excellent vehicle entry on a quiet side street, which provides ample safe street parking for visitors.

4. The major building (containing six 2 and 3 bedroom units) proposed for the development is massive by local standards and it can in no way be compared to single family double storey buildings in the vicinity. At its lower end (the block is sloping) the height of the building is 12 metres, far exceeding the 8 metre limit on all other local housing. Even at the upper end of the slope the building is 10 metres above ground level. What is proposed is really a three storey building under the guise of a two storey building with underneath parking.

5. Many of the figures in diagrams and tables are 'rubbery', as they say, and require careful scrutiny.

Buildings are allowed to be no more than single storey in the rear 25% of the site. The demarcation line is incorrectly drawn on the notification diagram. When correctly drawn, one of the two storey units is in this single storey zone.

The main building is more than a metre higher than two storey adjacent to the NW boundary where, incidentally, a balcony has a fine view over the garden of 184 Beecroft Road, when the silky oak is removed, as proposed. Perhaps this is the place to mention that a balcony on the eastern corner of the main building also looks down on the yard used for exercise by the occupants of 190 Beecroft Road.

Landscaped area is stated to be 37.6% of the site. A careful grid count suggests no more than 25%, and that includes some marginal areas to the units which would surely have to be paved to allow maintenance. The only way this figure could be increased is by including roads and pathways which are not landscape areas. By clause 50(c) the landscaped area should be at least 30%. It is not.

On the evidence of these examples, we should look very carefully at the other quoted figures. Even the distance to Beecroft shopping centre (stated as 1 km is wrong - it is actually 1.6 km).

6. Under the 186 development proposal, about 75% of the site will be covered by buildings and driveway. The plans for dealing with water from the site are of great concern. Currently, adjacent driveways are flooded for days after heavy rain, accepted as normal run-off from a clean area at the front of 186. At the back of an adjacent block, the pool has been frequently flooded by surface muddy water run-off from the the back of 186. The general southerly slope of 186 means that heavy rain run-off will flow in the direction of that land.

We have to trust the hydraulic engineers that the complex proposal to deal with roof rainwater disposal will work. The proposal requires pumping excess water collected on the site to drains on the other side of Beecroft Road. This interesting suggestion would require pipes to be laid beneath Beecroft Road which could only be accomplished by diverting traffic (in part or in full) from Beecroft Road into side streets on the northern side of the road because bottlenecks in streets on the southern side would not allow sufficient traffic flow. One envisages many days of absolute traffic chaos, and it is surprising that an indication that the RTA would approve of, and manage this initiative was not submitted along with the rest of the development proposal. With the very large collection area on the site, if water were to be simply pumped off into the road gutter, one can imagine a flooding of the Boulevard T junction in times of storm.

There is a large paved roadway area in the rear half of the block including a turning area and visitor parking area. It is not clear from the plans how rain water is going to be collected there. Unless there is very careful attention to the groundslope and guttering, rainfall from this area will be distributed all over the southwestern boundary onto adjacent blocks. This matter has greater importance because heavy leaf-fall from the canopy trees blows into guttering and downpipes (the existing house on the development site has this problem) commonly resulting in gutters overflowing. There are extremely large roof areas in the plan. It is important that collection and disposal of possible overflow water should also be taken into account.
There seems to be no reference to sewage disposal from 10 units, except a note that sewage is available to the single house on site.

At the front of the property, the driveway/garbage area introduces new problems. It is not clear where rainfall, from what is likely to be a very smelly area can go except onto the driveways of neighbours. There is no proposal to capture this water.

7. Garbage. With ten units, twenty red and yellow bins and a few green bins one would suppose, garbage does not seem to be the sort of problem one can dismiss with the comment 'A common bin storage area is located adjacent to the driveway. This storage area will service all dwellings. This area is accessible by the Council's standard waste collection vehicle.'

The Councils standard waste collection vehicle does not enter properties as far as we are aware. If it did, it is hard to imagine how this very large vehicle would move in and out. Normal servicing requires bins to be placed in a specific position and orientation on the grassy verge. If 20 bins were to be placed on the verge each week, this would soon become known as the Cheltenham rubbish tip. This part of the proposal needs a more convincing explanation.

1 comment:

  1. Sensational and through response by this resident. How I wish it really was "your council" or "our council" and not just council for developers and people who ignore the rules. I am sadly disillusioned.

    Council's care for trees in Beecroft is demonstrated by the example of 109 Copeland Rd.