One of the most important roles for a council is to develop and implement the rules for all development in any given area. This is achieved through planning rules known as Plans. The most important Plan a council prepares is the Local Environment Plan (LEP). The LEP’s primary purpose is to set the rules for land use – so which areas can be used for what purposes such as residential or commercial. It also sets the overall density and height rules.
The other key Plan for a council is a Development Control Plan (DCP). This Plan controls the impacts of proposed buildings on things like how far buildings need to be set back from adjoining properties and how much open space is needed for each type of development.
As many of you know, there has been a number of recent major amendments to the Kogarah LEP.
Kogarah introduced draft changes to its LEP in 2015, resulting in extensive public comment by residents – to the extent that over 500 people turned up to two separate public meetings. Clearly, the issue of development and the future shape of our area is a topic that many residents feel passionately about.
In 2016, in response to the submissions made by local residents, Kogarah Council made a number of changes to the proposed LEP, and sent this to the Department of Planning for consideration. These changes reduced the scale of development on particular sites such as parts of the Princes Highway, Carlton, Blakehurst and South Hurstville by reducing the proposed controls relating to height and floor space ration (FSR).
Recently, the Department rejected these further changes and as such, the LEP as approved by the Department is now finalised.
So, what’s my view of all of this?
I can understand why residents who voiced their concerns during community consultation are disappointed in the outcome. The LEP approved by the Department appears to be here to stay, so I believe the best way forward is to minimise the effects of those changes. One way we can do this is to ensure that Council’s DCPs achieve the best design possible to minimise height, perhaps by setting back the top levels to reduce the bulk and scale of a building. There also might be an opportunity for Council to have another look at the residents’ proposed changes when the Kogarah and Hurstville LEPs are merged.
The Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel (IHAP), and rigorous DCPs will result in better designs that are more sympathetic to the surrounding area. This may not completely overcome residents’ concern, but it may alleviate the majority. Nobody likes big, ugly unit blocks that are designed solely to maximise developers’ profits. But well-designed buildings that are mindful of their impact on the local area have the power to transform the look and feel of our suburbs.
For more information:
A copy of the Department of Planning’s letter to Council can be found here: Letter to Georges River Council re Kogarah LEP
Council has put together a summary of the changes which can be found here: New-City-Plan-Gazettal-26-May-2017 (1)