Eastern Suburbs Sydney
The power of dialogue, Randwick's Mayor adjusts Education and Health Specialised Centre Discussion Paper
Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson
The Mayoral Minute detailed how the Murray Matson suspended community consultation following comments by Labor Member for Coogee Paul Pearce on Streetcorner.com.au that the process was ‘very flawed’. Murray Matson and Paul Pearce then met on the 6th of December to discuss the detail of Paul Pearce’s concerns, which included loss of open space, height limits and the potential for a concentration of overdevelopment in the High Street & Barker Street precincts.
The Randwick Mayor’s quick response and his willingness to engage in direct dialogue has resulted in a ‘reframing’ of the Discussion Paper and will give more time for the community to fully articulate their concerns.
Part A of the Discussion Paper will proceed and Part B, which contains the detailed planning recommendations will be re-examined by Randwick Council.
Murray Matson has laid out much of the detail of his discussions with Paul Pearce in the Mayoral Minute, a public document all are able to see. This is not backroom dealing, hidden from public view, everything is on the table. It's a style of politics we see too little of; frank, flexible, willing to listen and a respect for the right of residents to be fully informed of what their politicians are doing on their behalf.
This is the Government 2.0 that ACT Senator Kate Lundy has been arguing for but we’ve seen little evidence or leadership on from our Federal politicians and one which uses digital technology to make the political process transparent and accessible to all.
Paul Pearce, likewise put his comments on the public record, responding directly and publicly on Streetcorner.com.au to the article which started the debate, published by the Greens candidate for Coogee Sue Doran on Streetcorner. Pearce, with his planning experience as a previous Mayor of Waverley shared his views with the community, not just his own database. There was no hiding behind spin, leaking information to journalists, just his views on display for all to see and judge. This approach takes some courage and Pearce and has not been afraid to incur the wrath of developers, on this or other development sites in the Randwick Council area, most notably the Coogee Bay Hotel.
To date Liberal Councillor Bruce Notley-Smith and Liberal candidate for Coogee is only key player absent in this particular public debate, but Notley-Smith has also put direct communication to good use on past local issues.
A second Mayoral Minute which dropped Council discussions on Driveways & Pedestrian access through Randwick Girls & Boys High School for Inglis development was also passed last night.
It followed firm opposition to the idea by both Randwick Girls High School, Randwick Boys High School and the broader school community.
The Randwick Education and Health Specialised Centre Discussion Paper, which looks at changing zoning to allow high-residential and commercial development around the Randwick Racecourse, UNSW, High Street and Barker Street has been under attack in recent weeks.
Randwick City Council developed the discussion paper, predominantly in response to State Government requests for Council’s to plan for increased population and to consider developments that can utilise existing transport and other public infrastructure.
Many residents, feel they have not been given enough time to understand the complex planning documents and asked for an extension of the public consultation period. Others are opposed to the inclusion of public or private open space in the rezoning plans, arguing that open space is a rare commodity in Randwick and should not be used for residential or commercial development. The Kingsford South Precinct has been letterboxing residents with a brochure to spread word on the Discussion Paper.
The Full Transcripts of the Mayoral Minute MM75/10 is below
“Mr, Paul Pearce, MP, Member for Coogee, recently made a statement on the Street corner web site that he considered the Randwick Health and Education Specialised Centre Discussion Paper to be “very flawed”.
I immediately suspended further Council work on the discussion paper and invited Mr Pearce to meet with me and clarify what he saw as flaws in this paper. We met on Monday 6 December, and Cr Tracey was also present. Later in the discussion I asked the General Manager in to participate as well.
Mr Pearce agreed with my view that parameters need to be put into place to clarify directions in the discussion paper to assist with further consultations.
Mr Pearce put the following issues forward.
• NSW Government Required Metro Strategy Dwelling Target. Mr Pearce confirmed that the Council should continue planning to accommodate Randwick’s assigned target of 8,400 new dwellings by 2031.
• Comprehensive LEP. Mr Pearce recognised the need for Council to continue with the Comprehensive LEP requirements of the State Government.
• Support for Vision and Strategy verse Key Planning Codes. He offered the view that Part A of the discussion paper could be separated from Part B of the paper, with which he had his concerns.
- Part A describes the Centre, its key attributes and drivers, growth trends and likely demands over the next 20 years, and identifies a vision and broad strategies for its long term future.
- Part B suggest design and planning principles for key precincts and sites, or “investigation area” within the Centre and discusses options for the key planning controls that could be included in the comprehensive LEP and DCP.
I confirm that Part A is intended as the broad strategy or ‘Precinct Plan’ for the Centre, as required by the Metro Strategy. This Part A then informs the detail proposed in Part B, which will eventually inform the draft LEP, DCP and a public domain strategy.
• Heights. Mr Pearce suggested that the discussion paper’s presentation of a range of possible heights (e.g. 15 metres to 24 metres) for various streets should be replaced with a single definitive value. This would allow for clearer community definition.
I note that Mr Pearce has quoted from a table which actually summarises the range of heights identified in each investigation area eg different heights are shown for different streets. Within each investigation area, a range of heights is also valid as it relates to issues such as required building setbacks or where incentives are proposed for affordable housing. The heights are proposed to be defined in the LEP and DCP.
• Overall Excessive Density. Mr Pearce felt that simply too much was being proposed. We discussed the possibility of a maximum cap of 1,500 new dwellings. I put the point that the building envelopes could be scaled down in the draft Local Environment Plan (the next step after this discussion paper) to be contingent with a potential of 1,500 new dwellings by 2031. Mr Pearce expressed doubt that this could be done via a DCP or an LEP. I agreed to investigate. Mr Pearce favoured an LEP restriction if a cap was to adopted.
• Overall 15 Metre height limit. He did not support any residential development higher than 15 metres. His view is that provision to 15 metres is justifiable because that is the minimum height at which lifts become economically feasible for inclusion.
A 15m height equates to around 4-5 storeys depending on the uses, to which many of the areas suggested for change would no longer be viable (as many are already 3 -4 storeys). Land values rather than lifts are the key determinant of feasibility. Nevertheless, I consider that we should note in principle that 15m may be the most suitable maximum subject to feedback from the community, as per the expectations of a consultation period.
• Limited Open Space. Increased opportunity for open space was an issue with Mr Pearce.
• Light Rail/Metro/Heavy Rail. I advised Mr Pearce Council has received a letter from NSW Planning, supporting the formation of the Randwick Public Transport Working Group in order to advance the Metro Strategy and its draft East Subregional Strategy, which are both currently under review. Mr Pearce was of the view that current residential densities in the area were already high enough to justify either a light rail or metro facility but that he favoured metro.
I strongly recommend that Mr Pearce bring his views to the attention of the Minister for Transport and request that planning be commenced and prioritised for light/metro/heavy rail.
I note that the discussion paper indicates that the changes are reliant on significantly improved public transport, including rail.
• Residential Development on Racecourse. Mr Pearce expressed surprise that residential development was being put forward as an option for the South Western corner on High Street. He understood that UNSW had previously supported student accommodation on the South Eastern corner abutting Wansey Road.
The paper suggests a combination of uses, not just residential, on both the SE and SW corners of the racecourse. This includes research, biomedical facilities, education and accommodation supporting these facilities, as well as support uses such as recreation facilities and open space. The south-west corner is identified as a rail station site and any development must allow for this transport future.
• Future USW Student Accommodation Needs. Mr Pearce put the position that his involvement on the UNSW Council lead him to believe that UNSW wanted another 1,000 beds. Mr Pearce wants this to be accommodated on the UNSW site. I agreed to clarify whether UNSW whether this was possible on their site.
The UNSW DCP proposes to accommodate an additional 3000 students on or near the campus by 2020. To date, 1300 have been provided and were fully occupied within a week of opening. The university has 45,000 students enrolled and increases are expected, many of whom live not only on campus but also in the suburbs around the university. This paper recognises the need to provide housing options, for students and also for others who want to live close to the uni and hospital facilities.
This was intended only to be a long term possibility and for investigation only, should the configuration of the school’s buildings or road accesses change.
• Extending the Exhibition Period. The General Manager made the point that the current discussion paper on public exhibition was only the first of three planned exhibition processes. The next two being prepared is the draft Local Environment Plan and then a draft Development Control Plan. There is thus no particular reason why the exhibition process for the discussion paper could not be extended to next year.
This week’s discussions between the Mayor and Paul Pearce, MP, Member for Coogee, in reference to the Specialised Centre discussion paper went positively.
There was agreement that Council can continue with implementing State Government planning requirements under the eastern sub-regional strategy of the Metro Strategy if some additional parameters on Part B (the planning strategy) are imposed at the draft LEP stage.
That, in reference to the currently exhibited Randwick Health and Education Specialised Centre Discussion Paper, Council:
1) Lifts the suspension imposed by the Mayor in response to Coogee MP Paul Pearce’s stated view that it was flawed;
2) Notes Mr Pearce’s endorsement of Part A of the discussion paper and informs him that it is responding to his criticisms of Part B;
3) Extends the exhibition period for the Discussion Paper to March next year and will confirm to residents that all submissions received during this extended period will be taken into account in the generation of the draft Local Environment Plan (LEP);
4) Resolves that the draft Local Environment Plan that will be generated from community feedback to the exhibited Discussion Paper, shall:
a) adopt a general maximum height restriction of 15 metres for residential development;
b) explore the potential for increased open space and protection of currently unbuilt on open space;
c) have a restricted distribution of building envelopes allowing for the inclusion of a total of 1,500 or less additional dwellings in the Centre by 2031;
5) That prior to the final version of the Draft LEP going on public exhibition Council will consider the inclusion of further provisions including:
a) Restrictions on the sites for student accommodation following clarification with UNSW as to how much is required and the preferred site for its location including the options of using only UNSW land;
b) More explicit options for light rail or metro rail following any consideration and input by the Randwick Public Transport Working Group recently supported by NSW Planning; and
c) there should be a maximum height of 15 metres for residential development with concessions in carefully chosen locations for affordable housing incentives."
End of the Mayoral Minute.
What do you think of Mayor Murray Matson response to community concerns? Are you happy with the recommendations passed following Councillor Matson’s discussions with Paul Pearce?