Download full submission or read the executive summary below.
The Property Council represents the companies that help build, shape and finance our cities, companies which have a long term interest in the future of centres such as the North Sydney CBD.
We note that a number of the concerns raised in our September 2002 submission on the draft LEP have been addressed in the amended LEP, such as removing the five-storey podium requirements, and we welcome this.
However, the Property Council still has serious concerns with the amended LEP, which are set out in this submission and comprise the collective views of our members. The concerns reflect the industry’s lack of confidence that the draft plan is workable, can deliver the anticipated increase in commercial floor space, or encourage the refurbishment and redevelopment of aging office stock that is necessary if North Sydney is to improve its urban amenity and retain its role as a major CBD.
For some time, the Property Council has expressed its concerns about the ability of the current planning framework to protect and enhance the wider employment and economic role of the North Sydney Centre. Restrictive planning controls have made rejuvenation of commercial sites uneconomic, resulting in aging office stock and declining urban amenity in the centre.
The Property Council is therefore extremely concerned at the inadequacy of the draft LEP to protect North Sydney’s commercial status. We doubt that increased employment capacity can be achieved under the draft LEP and recommend that modeling be done, or evidence of Council’s modeling be reviewed by PlanningNSW.
The overly prescriptive nature of many of the planning controls in the LEP, together with the proposed levies to fund transport infrastructure, and the increased section 94 contributions, will render the plan’s overall objective of maintaining North Sydney’s status as a major commercial centre questionable if not unattainable. The level of ambiguity of some of the controls in the plan is also likely to lead to disputes and redress to the courts.
The property industry is also frustrated at the length of time it has taken to finalise a new LEP. The current process has been going on for over five years and this creates massive uncertainty for the property investment community.
The submission suggests a number of amendments to the draft plan and the Property Council would be happy to work with Council and the State Government to develop a planning framework that would achieve a more viable and certain commercial future for the North Sydney Centre.
Summary of recommendations
That professional modeling be undertaken on the impact of the LEP controls on the North Sydney Centre’s ability to accommodate the additional 250,000 square metres of floor space.
Revise the objectives so that they do not work against each other, but instead reinforce the commercial status of the North Sydney Centre.
Reject the proposed levy on commercial development to fund an upgrade of North Sydney railway station.
Delete the words “or height” from objective (b) because height is dealt with under other LEP clauses such as the overshadowing provisions.
As part of the modeling recommended in recommendation 1, that the effects of the overshadowing provisions be professionally modelled with the results used to design more reasonable overshadowing provisions that allow the additional 250,000 square metres of floor space to be accommodated.
That the building heights and massing controls be revised so that they reflect clear planning and design outcomes for the Centre and require development controls to be formulated and tested for their ability to be implemented and for their collective impact on built form and redevelopment feasibility.
That Council be required to adopt a master plan in 60 days, which provides for an advertising period of 21 days for the master plan and for Council to assess the accompanying development application.
The LEP to provide that development applications not determined before commencement of the amending LEP, must submit a master plan, but if the master plan does not materially depart from the development application previously advertised, there is no requirement to further publicly advertise and consult on the master plan.
Remove the restrictions on the redevelopment of sites up to 1,000 square metres and instead provide planning and design guidance, in a DCP, for sites which may not be able to be consolidated into a parcel greater than 1000sqm.
That the sunset clauses be deleted and replaced with a requirement to review the LEP controls every five years.