Sydney council tries to block 800 new homes located outside its boundary

A Sydney council is attempting to block the development of 800 new homes in the already built-up suburb of Zetland despite the site being located outside the council’s boundaries.

Randwick City councillors last week unanimously voted to send an 11-page submission to their neighbours,the City of Sydney,demanding the council stop a Meriton project on the site of the former Holden Suttons car dealership on Epsom Road beside Southern Cross Drive.

An impression of Meriton’s proposed development on Epsom Road in Zetland,with a 25-storey tower on the right-hand side.

An impression of Meriton’s proposed development on Epsom Road in Zetland,with a 25-storey tower on the right-hand side.City of Sydney planning proposal

The City of Sydney and Harry Triguboff’s Meriton want to change the height controls to allow one building of 25 storeys,while reducing the height of other buildings on the site.

This would enable more diversity of housing types and provide more public spaces and streets,the council says. The floor space ratio and overall density would not change,and the project would contain 30 townhouses and 784 apartments.

However,the proposed changes have alarmed residents in the so-called west Kensington heritage conservation area (HCA) east of the site,on the opposite side of Southern Cross Drive,as they will be able to see the tower.

The submission from Randwick Council argues the new 25-storey tower will be “clearly visible from many vantage points” within the HCA. The council says the area has an “unusual triangular street layout”,producing a “unique subdivision pattern featuring interesting street junctions”.

A map of the development site,with west Kensington to its immediate right,on the other side of Southern Cross Drive.

A map of the development site,with west Kensington to its immediate right,on the other side of Southern Cross Drive.City of Sydney planning proposal

“This results in a great variety of internal vistas,long and short,” it says. “It is council’s view that the draft planning proposal not proceed until the potential visual impact of the tower on the HCA has been assessed and suitably resolved.”

Randwick Council also paid Bitzios Consulting to study the potential impact of the development on traffic in the Randwick LGA. The consultants found the height change would make no difference to traffic because it was not increasing the density of the site.

The council said in its report:“Even though this draft planning proposal is not increasing density (floor space),it is contributing to an already unsatisfactory situation regarding traffic impacts in the Randwick LGA.”

At a meeting last week,councillors unanimously endorsed the submission to the City of Sydney. Liberal councillor Andrew Hay called the proposal a “massive overdevelopment in Zetland”.

“This proposal has to be stopped,” said Labor councillor Alexandra Luxford. “The fight is not over yet,we still have an option up our sleeves which I will pursue if we don’t get the results we require.”

The City of Sydney has endorsed the plan as the best outcome for the site. It says the height of the tower matches those already built along South Dowling Street,and the revised configuration will give more sunlight to a new park which is included in the development.

The project also includes a 130-place childcare centre,a supermarket and other retail,new roads and public spaces. It is located in the south-east corner of the Green Square urban renewal area,which is expected to grow to 32,000 dwellings and 60,000-70,000 residents by 2036.

The City of Sydney is currently reviewing public submissions,including Randwick Council’s,before making a final decision. “The City’s proposed changes do not make any changes to the zoning or density of the site,” it said in a statement.

Rosebery Residents Action Group,run by union organiser and local Wayne Moody,will host a public meeting about the project next week. Luxford said state and federal MPs were expected to attend.

Randwick Council has a tense relationship with Meritonover the developer’s long-held plans to construct 1900 apartments at Little Bay in buildings up to 17 storeys.

The council wants to stick with a previously approved plan for 450 units.

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Michael Koziol is Sydney Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald,based in our Sydney newsroom. He was previously deputy editor of The Sun-Herald and a federal political reporter in Canberra.

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