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Lane Cove Local Planning Panel Meeting

3 March 2020, 12:30pm



Lane Cove Local Planning Panel 3 March 2020





PRESENT:                              Mr Robert Montgomery, Chairman, Mr Graham Brown, Planning Expert, Ms Lindsey Dey, Planning Expert, Ms Jane Blackmore, Community Representative


ALSO PRESENT:                  Mr Michael Mason, Executive Manager, Environmental Services, Mr Greg Samardzic, Acting Manager, Development Assessment, Mr Chris Pelcz, Co-ordinator Strategic Planning, Mr Terry Tredrea, Strategic Planner, Ms Lara Fusco, Strategic Planner and Ms Angela Panich, Panel Secretary




Lane Cove Local Planning Panel Reports


Planning Proposal 31 for 524-542 Pacific Highway, St Leonards (the "Telstra Site")




In providing advice to Council, the Panel has given careful consideration to the following:


·        The context of the site with respect to surrounding and nearby developments which have been recently completed, approved and under construction;

·        The relevant regional and local strategies which apply to the site and the important role of St Leonards as a key employment centre in Greater Sydney;

·        The size and scale of the proposed built form compared to the emerging built form in a number of approved and completed nearby developments;

·        The information provided in the planning proposal and by the proponent in response to questions from the Panel; and

·        The Council officer’s assessment of the planning proposal.

The Panel endorses the Officer’s report and the recommendation not to proceed to Gateway Determination for the reasons listed in the report.  The fundamental issue for consideration is whether there is strategic merit in changing the zone to allow the establishment of significant residential development.


The Panel considers that the proposal is premature given that the St Leonards and Crows Nest Draft Plan (which identifies the site and adjoining land as a significant site) has not yet been finalised by NSW Planning Industry and Environment.


The Panel is of the view that there is a need to retain the subject land for employment uses due to its strategic location.  Permitting residential development on this site would represent a lost opportunity for the future provision of high quality commercial floor space in this strategic location.  The planning proposal appears to be short-sighted and market driven.

It is relevant to note that the Lane Cove LGA has exceeded its residential targets for 2020 and will continue to do so based on approvals issued and future developments which are in the pipeline.  It is therefore considered that there is no demand for additional residential land within the LGA in the foreseeable future.


It is considered that the emerging built form in this locality respects and enhances open space, view corridors and connectivity.  The proposal does not respond appropriately to this emerging form.

There is no apparent justification for the significant height increase over the existing and approved buildings in the immediate locality.  It is also noted that the building height proposed would encroach on the Obstacle Limitation Surface Level for Sydney Airport.

The proposal provides no justification as to why the Telstra building must remain on site in its current form.  This is a significant constraint which appears to be driving the outcome.  Any proposal should consider alternatives to retaining the Telstra building in its current form.

The proposal does not properly consider the adjoining sites in a strategic context.  In the absence of amalgamation, the constraints presented by this site prohibit a development of the size and scale proposed.  Indeed, developing the land in isolation would hinder the ability to provide a master-planned outcome for the precinct.

The Panel is of the view that the planning proposal is fundamentally flawed and lacks strategic merit. 




Pursuant to Section 9.1 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the Lane Cove Planning Panel at its meeting of 3 March 2020 is recommended to not support forwarding Planning Proposal No. 31 to the Minister of Planning for a Gateway Determination, as it:


A.  Fails the strategic merit test




1.   Is not consistent with A Metropolis of Three Cities which identifies the St Leonards Strategic Centre as a major employment asset of the Eastern Economic Corridor for “attracting investment, business activity and jobs in strategic centres across Greater Sydney increasing access to a wide range of jobs, goods and services close to people’s homes and supporting the 30-minute city.” (p 119)


2.   Is not consistent with the North District Plan's priorities or actions for the St Leonards Commercial area, which identifies “the importance of the precinct as a key employment centre in Greater Sydney”. Particularly as a health and education (employment) "super precinct". This Proposal realises approximately 24% of the employment potential of the site as it currently exists, thereby constraining the centre’s ability to provide for the long-term projected employment growth as envisaged by the Plan.


3.   Counter to the "Significant Site" concept of the Draft 2036 Plan, the Draft Plan’s Economic Feasibility Report recommends retaining most or all of the existing B3 zoned sites, and allowing additional floorspace including mixed use with minimum commercial floorspace only in the B4 zone.


4.   Is not consistent with the following aspects of the Draft St Leonards/Crows Nest 2036 Plan:-   


a)   The proposition by the proponent that St Leonards/Crows Nest cannot compete with North Ryde / Macquarie Park and Chatswood, and therefore commercial land use here represents a negative return on investment, is refuted by the 2036 Plan’s Economic Feasibility Report, which concludes "the new Metro station and Metro rail investment is expected to catalyse higher value office development in the medium-short term." (p75). That is, taking a longer-term, strategic perspective.


The Proposal does not acknowledge or take into account recent development and leasing activity (i.e. approval of the JQZ 16-storey, A-grade commercial building, and the Mastercard tenancy);


b)   It is inconsistent with the "Significant Site" concept of the Draft 2036 Plan, which:


i. Requires amalgamation with the AMA building (p.62. Opposed by applicant); and

ii. allows mixed-use development on key sites to "encourage more A-grade commercial office floorspace. The proposal only intends to develop 24% of the current employment potential GFA, and therefore represents a significant underutilisation of the potential 28,000 m2 of commercial space.


c)   Given the likely impacts on the adjoining AMA building, the proposal does not “avoid unreasonably constraining development potential of neighbouring sites” – another Significant Site Design Criteria in the Draft 2036 Plan (page 62);


d)   It requires a rigorous design excellence process, (and is currently inconsistent with the height concept of the Draft 2036 Plan); and


e)   It is inconsistent with the Draft 2036 Plan's Principle to "ensure no additional overshadowing of public open spaces..." (p11) as it would create additional overshadowing of Newlands Park from 10:15am to 10:45am. Note, as a result of height reduction in the December 2019 iteration, the proposal appears not to overshadow houses to the south of River Road.


5.   Inconsistent with the following aspects of Council’s exhibited and amended Draft Local Strategic Planning Statement:-


a)   Principles for the Location of Additional Housing (page 30) are focused on the St Leonards Strategic Centre and its surrounds in existing B3 Commercial Core zoned land, but not at the expense of the attraction and growth of jobs; and


b)   Council’s action “To grow jobs in the St Leonards Commercial Office Precinct and Strategic Centre, all existing Commercial Core zoned land will be retained. This approach will be reviewed after the delivery of the Crows Nest Metro Station (in 2024)” (page 44).


6.   It is not consistent with Council's "pilot project" approach to St Leonards centre, which was not intended to become a precedent for others that are not part of the specified policy, but rather is a finely balanced policy designed to revitalise and stimulate the centre's long-term employment potential by activating sites adjacent to open space. Council’s pilot projects encourage commercial land uses above that currently required. It is too soon to consider further B4 rezoning.


7.   Due to the number and degree of non-compliances with the Draft 2036 Plan objectives, design criteria, design principles and actions, the proposal has not appropriately responded to any change in circumstances.


B.  Fails site-specific merit test




8.   The applicant’s claim that due to site constraints, the size of the commercial floor plates would be limited and unsuited to “A-grade” stock is counter to the Draft 2036 Plan’s main reason for allowing B4 Mixed use – “mixed use development on key sites to encourage more A-grade commercial office floorspace and encourage revitalisation of St Leonards” (p 54). Even with the applicant’s amendments, the A-grade commercial floor space proposed is still a 24% underutilisation of the current potential.


9.   The proposed car stacker, servicing a 7-10-storey above-ground car park, for an estimated 65 peak hour vehicle movements per hour, is likely to compromise the amenity of business and residential tenants, and has the potential to adversely impact the traffic at the intersection of Christie St and Pacific highway, which is an important gateway to the precinct.


10. Due to the number and degree of non-compliances with the Draft 2036 Plan objectives, design criteria, design principles and actions, the proposed vehicular egress (via Pacific Highway) is not justified. If the site was amalgamated with 69 Christie Street (as per the Draft 2036 Plan) this would potentially be alleviated.



The recommendation of the Panel was unanimous




The meeting closed at 1.30pm




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