Leighton submission from FOE

The Chief Executive
City of Sydney
GPOBox 1591
Sydney
New South Wales 2001
ATTENTION: Mr. Mark Solomon - Specialist Planner
City Planning, Development and Transport

Dear Sir

DA D/2011/2152 Unit 36 - 36A, Lot 2, 1A Coulson Street, Erskineville 2043


This document is a submission from the Friends of Erskineville Resident's Association
("FOE") in response to the Development Application D/2011/2152 concerning the
Ashmore Estate, Erskineville ("Estate"), and which has been placed in the public arena
for comment.


ABOUT FRIENDS OF ERSKINEVILLE
The FOE is a registered not for profit organization whose members are residents of
Erskineville and Alexandria. FOE is governed by a constitution of rules approved by the
relevant State government authorities, and is subject to annual independent audit of its
financial activities.
FOE is managed by a committee which is elected annually by the members, and is
supported by other committee members who manage sub-committees under delegated
authority from the elected management committee.
FOE charge an annual membership fee of $20.00 for resident members, with a special
annual fee of $2.00 for senior citizens.


THE DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION
The Development Application (DA D/2011/2152) refers to the area of the Estate bounded
by McDonald Street to the south, the Illawarra railway line to the west, Ashmore Street to
the north, and has a boundary line through the estate running parallel in two sections to
Mitchell Road to the east. It is approximately 1 HA in area of a total 17.4 Ha area of the
Estate.

The Estate itself is bounded by Coulson Street, the railway line, Ashmore Street and
Mitchell Road.

The DA is for the approval of several buildings comprising 320 dwellings ranging from 2
storey terrace accommodation to apartment complexes 8 storeys in height.
FOE has serious concerns that were this DA to be approved in its current form it would
be to the detriment of the immediate local area and surrounding areas. FOE is also
concerned that were the DA to proceed in its current form that Council may be
contravening its own guidelines. These concerns will be detailed in this submission.

Also please note that the concerns of the FOE expressed in this submission relating to the
aforementioned DA are informed by the consideration of the effect on the local area and
surrounding neighborhoods once the whole of the Estate is developed for residential use.

FOE supports the urban renewal of the Estate, but the objections to
this DA cannot be considered separate to the entirety of the Estate.


If this DA is approved, it is very likely that the rest of the Estate will be developed in
accordance with the Draft DCP 2011. Such development would allow for up to
approximately 6,000 people on the site, and which would be in addition to the present
total of residents in the suburb which is currently approximately 6000 people according
to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The net effect would be a doubling of the
population of Erskineville.

If Council were to reject any objections to this DA because the DA, of itself, will not add
6000 residents to the area, then FOE would not accept such a rejection.

SITE DENSITY
In the letter to Leighton Properties Pty Ltd ("Leighton") from G Jahn, Director of City
Planning and Regulatory Services, and which was dated 19 September, 2011 REF:
2011/241556 File No. PDA/2011/15, the Director states "Any DA submitted before the
gazettal of the Draft Sydney Local Environment Plan (LEP) (2011) ("draft LEP") must
be assessed against the controls of the South Sydney LEP 1998. In accordance with the
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the draft LEP is a matter for
consideration. However the weight to be given to the draft LEP will be determined by the
consent authority, which in this case id the Central Sydney Planning Committee
("CSPC").

The LEP (2011) had not been gazetted prior to the submission and exhibition of this DA.
The CSPC only debated the LEP (2011) on Thursday March 8, 2012. Hence this DA may
be considered against the South Sydney LEP 1998.
The second principle objective of the 1998 LEP is "to enhance the quality of life and
well-being of the local community". This DA is proposing three buildings of 8 storeys,
with 264 dwellings and ultimately a further series of buildings with a total of 69
dwellings. The Estate is zone 10 and has as its objectives "to ensure that building form,
including alterations and additions, is in character with the surrounding built environment
and does not detract from the amenity and environmental quality enjoyed by nearby
residents".
It is the contention of FOE that 8 storey buildings, adjacent to conservation area CA33
the Malcolm Estate, cannot do anything but detract from the quality of nearby residents.
  • The buildings are out of scale with the existing built environment
  • Motto 1 at the corner of Eve and McDonald Streets has a nominal height of 9
storeys but this is only as a result of old technology and placement of a
communication apparatus. The residential aspect of Motto 1 is 7 storeys and it is
questionable as to whether even that height should have been allowed
  • Council has previously stated that development such as the Zenix Tower is
completely out of character with the surrounding areas. A building that is already
extant does not, of itself, provide an automatic excuse for other buildings to be of
similar height or building envelope
  • The two floors that comprise the upper part of Motto 1 are above the elevator
shaft. Modern technology allows for elevators to not require the addition of a
storey above the top residential floor.
  • The section above the top of the Motto lift apparatus is solely taken up with
communication relays. These could easily have been placed elsewhere on the
building as is common throughout modern cities in order to provide
communication services
  • If the residential area of this building were to be used as a template the 7 storeys
would be the maximum allowed.
  • The Draft Amendment South Sydney Control Plan Amendment: Urban Design
1997 - Part G Special Precinct No 7 - Ashmore Estate as at November 2011,
Figure 8, clearly defines the Motto building as 7 storeys in height and is zoned in
Figure 8a as 25m allowable height. If it is the case that the Motto 1 building is
being used as a template, then Leighton explicitly acknowledge this as they have
requested that the proposed height limit of 27m in the LEP (2011) is insufficient
for 8 storeys and must be raised by 1m to accommodate their preferred outcome -
which also includes a reduction from Council's preferred floor to ceiling height
instead becoming approximately the same as Leighton preferred storey height.
This is not tenable.

If the limit were to be raised from a proposed 27m to 28m it would require a new
set of studies to consider the full impacts of that decision. These impacts - social,
economic and environmental - are referred to later in this submission.
The above is relevant not withstanding that the Estate has been under the
guidelines of the South Sydney Development Control Plan Amendment: Urban
Design 1997 - Part G Special Precinct No. 7 - Ashmore Precinct 2006. This plan
allowed for a height limit of 5 storeys on the section of land now owned by
Leighton and which is the subject of this DA. FOE contends that the height limits
in this DA, taken into account with the rest of the Estate, would result in over
development and hence the DA as submitted should be rejected.
FOE has consistently argued for the retention of the DCP 2006 as the relevant
document to guide development of the Estate.


TRANSPORT STUDIES

The most recent traffic study conducted in the Erskineville area was the Inner
West Parking Study completed in January 2010. FOE contends that the area has
demonstrably changed since that date with new apartment buildings being
constructed in the area: e.g. Verve received its first residents in December 2009.
A new study must be done.

Any new study should include both restricted and unrestricted parking. Council

has indicated previously to the FOE that a study of parking in the area would
commence possibly as early as March 2012. Hence this DA cannot be approved
until the result of that study is published and made available for public perusal
and comment.

A study that only looks at the possible changes in waiting times to enter

intersections or roundabouts would not be adequate. The forecast length of time to
travel from one point to another in the area has to be considered. Traffic flow
along Mitchell Road in peak hour - north in the morning and south in the evening
- is very slow with long delays, and it can take over 15 minutes to travel from
Henderson Road to Sydney Park Road. An influx of 6,000 residents would
exacerbate this situation.

Council may consider that residents use public transport, and this is addressed in

the next section of this submission.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT
FOE understands that Council does not control public transport infrastructure. It is
for precisely this reason that Council should support residents and not allow any
development without a commitment from the State government to increased
public transport facilities and services. A whole of government approach to
development of this nature is required with Local (Council), State and Federal
branches of government working together to secure optimal outcomes.
People using buses on Mitchell Road already face delays as the buses are caught
in the traffic snarls at peak hour and travel slowly on the network in the
Erskineville area - there being no room for dedicated bus lanes on Mitchell Road
for example. In addition, buses are often full by the time they reach Mitchell Road
and are unable to admit any additional passengers, and travellers are left behind
and must wait for the next bus. Arguing that more people can use buses is not a
viable solution as the system is already at over capacity levels. Adding more
buses to the network may reduce the number of cars using the roads, but a traffic
study would be required to offer insight into that point of view.
The train network is also already at over capacity levels. RailCorp's own studies
in 2011 disclose the morning peak hour traffic at Erskineville station is at an
average of 140% of capacity for the full hour from 8.00 am to 9.00 am.
Passengers must occasionally miss a train as it is not possible to board a service at
Erskineville Station.

Whilst Redfern Station is about a 20 to 30 minute walk away, such a walk would

be beyond the capability of some residents - particularly those that are infirm,
injured, aged, unable to walk or have no mobility without artificial means, or
those with young children. The evening Peak outbound from the city to
Erskineville is at similar levels to the morning Peak.

If Council rejects this objection as "Beyond the Scope of the City Plan", then

FOE contends that Council is not fulfilling its duty of care to residents by
supporting them to ensure the local area provides for sustainable transport
solutions.

CAR PARKING

Council has a policy of minimizing car space availability in an effort to minimize
car ownership in the area under its control. The implications of overly restrictive
car parking can be dire. The level of car spaces to be made available in this DA is
insufficient to prevent the possibility of undesirable outcomes.

Currently, in the Verve Apartments on Coulson Street, there is an ongoing police

investigation into violence caused by the interaction between a visitor and an
owner of an apartment. Instances of vandalism to cars parked in the street due to
tensions over resident versus non-resident parking are known to FOE.

The fact is that some people have to own a car for work or other necessary

personal reasons. Public transport does not necessarily allow all people to meet
their work or social commitments all the time. To pretend otherwise is perverse.

If Council wishes to have minimal car parking then it behooves Council to press

for better public transport infrastructure, or where possible, to provide Council
initiated alternatives. The ability of Council to satisfactorily provide transport for
thousands of additional residents is a small area is highly questionable.

Council should reject development pending increased public transport

infrastructure or other measures to improve traffic flow.

TRAFFIC

In addition to the traffic concerns already raised in this submission, FOE is very
concerned about the potential for injury to persons or property arising from
increased traffic flow in the Estate area. Certain outcomes are predictable with the
development of this site prior to the development of the remainder of the Estate.
The single entrance and one of the two proposed exits from the Leighton site will
be via MacDonald Street, and traffic will enter from one of three ways.

The first way is from Eve Street, with a narrow turning at the corner of McDonald

and Eve Streets. It should be noted that this is the preferred pedestrian path for
many students on their way to classes at the Erskineville Primary School. These
students are of primary school age and there is no safety crossing at the
intersection. In addition there is an increased risk of accident due to poor sight
lines around this corner.

The second way is to drive down McDonald Street from Rochford Street.

McDonald Street is a narrow street which transverses the railway line, and has
cars parked on both sides of the street and on both sides of the railway line. Peak
hour traffic in particular will cause an increase in cars attempting to travel east
and west meeting each other with no room to maneuver - and thus the likelihood
of a traffic jam in a narrow street is increased.

The third way is that traffic will travel south on George Street and turn at Bridge
Street, and then travel north down Smith Lane before turning left into McDonald
Street. Smith Lane is a very narrow road with houses that front directly on to the
road, and with only a narrow footpath on the house side and no footpath on the
opposite side. Smith Lane also has garages that back onto it from Pleasant
Avenue. The chances of an accident either from a car entering Smith Lane from a
garage and colliding with a car travelling down Smith Lane, or the worst case of a
car hitting a pedestrian walking along Smith Lane as many local residents do,
must be increased with the additional traffic movement.

None of these three situations is an increased benefit to the interests of the local
residents and on these grounds the DA must be rejected as it imposes an increase
to residents of damage to their persons and property.

The traffic study commissioned for this DA by Leighton is inadequate to the task
of providing enough information to allow an informed consideration as to whether
the DA should be allowed.

First the report considers the effect of an increase of 2,435 residential apartments.
The proposed site densities across the Estate now allow for an increase of 3,200
apartments. This is 30% greater than the number of dwellings considered in the
Leighton traffic report. Such an increase invalidates the traffic report delivered by
Halcrow MWT. For this reason it is imperative that a new report is commissioned
to allow for the much greater potential site density of the Estate. No approval can
be given to the DA without a new traffic study that allows for the potential 3,200
residential apartments in the Estate.

The Halcrow report is largely a set of statements with little exposition. It notes for
example in section 2.4 that the Estate is an area well served by rail. This is only
true in that two rail lines are close by and a third rail line passes through the area,
but crucially does not stop in the area. No mention is made whatever of the
current passenger over capacity issues mentioned elsewhere in this submission.
The fact that there is existing services does not mean that those services are
adequate. In the case of rail and bus in the area they are manifestly not adequate
and this is borne out by RailCorp's own surveys. For the Halcrow report to make
no mention at all of this may lead some to question the thoroughness of the
authors and the validity of any conclusions in the report.

The Halcrow report makes no investigation into possible movements at weekends
when people are more likely to be using their cars. Many people only use cars at
weekends as they use alternative methods to attend work during the week. On
weekends though their time is their own and cars are used more frequently. The
report only considers peak hours during the working week and such a limited
consideration it inadequate.

In addition, the report only considers a very limited number of intersections in the
local vicinity - 8 in all. This is totally inadequate. Traffic flows must be
considered that include the effect on surrounding neighborhoods. The report does
not consider in full the implications of people who own cars with no permanent
car space available, and so may spend time on roads searching for a car park
space. Such search necessity will serve to increase traffic density in local streets.
The baseline figures used in the Halcrow report are from 2009. This timing was
BEFORE the completed development of Motto 2 and Verve - which are just two
examples of apartment complexes that have been built since some of the data in
this report was first compiled. For this reason the report must be rejected and no
decision made on the DA until a new, fully comprehensive report is
commissioned, delivered and published for public review.

In summary, the increased population of approximately 6,000 residents cannot
presently be accommodated in the area and any DA that would contribute to such
a level of increase over part of the site cannot be approved until the following
have been conducted:
  • A full traffic and transport study that considers movements of residents and
supplies for any economic activity into and out of the area
  • The effect such movements would have on the surrounding suburbs, and the
ability of the public transport (rail, bus) and private transport (car, bicycle,
pedestrian) networks to cope with such an increase
  • Any studies must consider traffic throughout the whole week as traffic on
weekends is now problematic throughout the main part of the day

FLOODING

The piped drainage system in the area is only capable of handling a 3 to 5 year flood
event. This may well be an underestimate as there has been significant flooding in recent
times. This flooding includes 0.8 m of water on Coulson Street (at the intersection with
Mitchell Rd) in June 2010. It is Sydney Water policy to provide a system capable of
handling a 20 year average recurrence interval (ARI) flood.
Remediation to cater for a 20 year ARI has neither been recommended nor
mandated by Council.

The SPC 2004 report calculates that a complete upgrade of the Munni Street catchment
area to cope with a 100 year ARI flood would result in a net economic benefit when
taking into account flood risks and other necessary mitigation measures. This benefit
holds even after applying a discount rate of 7% recommended by the NSW Treasury.
Objective 10.3 of the Sydney 2030 Vision states that Council should ensure its long term
economic position. Demanding that the water catchment system is upgraded prior to
development is thus consistent with Council's own policy. Conversely not demanding
this upgrade would appear to be a decision against Council's own policy.
FOE is strongly in favour of and supportive of the catchment area being upgraded prior to
development of the site and if this is not agreed then the DA to develop the site should be
rejected.

Council also recognizes that the proposed detention basin will not seriously improve the
flood affected nature of the site. The detention area would be dangerous in times of flood.
With a PMF depth of 3m, as would many other areas of the Estate. Recommendations
have been made to Council to undertake runoff water quality testing before further
development proceeds. FOE supports these recommendations and believes if they are not
actioned then the DA should be rejected.

Due to the high water table, it has been found that the dual use retention basin/park, 1.2 m
below the surrounding ground level, may be permanently soggy and leach contaminants
posing a risk to the community. It was also noted that there would have to be information
programmes to make locals and visitors aware of the risks.

The high PMF level has the effect of necessitating the raising of floor levels in the area.

Such a situation is already evident along Coulson Street with the Motto Apartments.
Buildings that are raised from the footpath create detachment from the street. This would
negate the proposed boulevard feel of Option 1 discussed in the Clouston Associates
report of March 2006. Such raising also negates the social impact of enjoyment of
residents in the area; makes passive viewing of properties more difficult; and may result
in higher incidents of crime in the area. Leighton has stated that the "basement" car park
would have to be built with 1.2 m above ground - and this would be unsightly.

This raising may affect the north - south cycle path on the western side of Mitchell Road
with it requiring a different path within the estate. This would have a detrimental effect
on the green link possibility between Sydney Park and Erskineville Oval, and force
cyclists to take an indirect route. This would in turn affect Corridor 7 Glebe to Rosebery,
part of the Council's 10 Green Corridors Policy.

Raised "ground" levels above the street also adversely affect economic activity. Council
would be aware that the shop fronts at IB Coulson Street are 10 steps above street level,
and one of the shops has been vacant for more than 2 years with a second shop only
recently opening in February 2012 after a lengthy period of no tenancy. Empty shops are
a blight on the visual enjoyment of an area, and such a situation is also contrary to the
Sustainable Sydney Vision 2030 of, amongst other objectives, being ":economically
sound".

Storm water concerns have also been experienced by all three major apartment buildings
on Coulson Street; the Sydney Park Village, Verve and Glo developments. In Glo and
Verve, storm water overflowing into the basement car parks is pumped back up to the
street level by electric pumps. This is inefficient and flooding still occurs.

Sydney Park Village has in the past 12 months upgraded its whole storm water processes
in order to prevent flooding of car parks. This entailed an extremely large expense to
residents as valves and pumps were replaced throughout the grounds. If the catchment
area had been upgraded as detailed in this submission, none of this expense would have
been necessary.

Were council to approve any DA for development in the Estate prior to an upgrade of the
Munni Street catchment, such an approval would continue to have an economic effect on
residents through the payment to upgrade their building water treatment systems, as well
as losses caused to personal property through the flooding of car parks.
FOE contends that Council cannot approve this DA until the Munni Street catchment area
water drainage system is upgraded to cope with a 100 yr ARI flood event.

CONSTRUCTION DENSITY
Floor to space ratios (FSR) in the DA are nominally 1.75:1. This would however not be
the final FSR as Council may apply a 10% bonus to a DA if an architectural contest has
been conducted in conjunction with the Council. Such a contest was conducted and hence
this application in reality has a FSR closer to 1.9:1. This is a significant increase on the
DCP 2006 limit.

The 2006 DCP has a FSR of 1.5:1 for the area under the DA. FOE considers this to be a
reasonable compromise between existing FSR's of local apartment buildings and the
requirement for increased population densities in the area. Motto has a FSR of 1.37:1 and
Sydney Park Village a FSR of 1.5:1. Agreeing to the 2006 DCP recommended FSR's
would keep the maximum FSR's in the region of those already in existence in the area.
The objective of the Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision is that renewal areas should be
"ensuring new development is integrated with the diversity and 'grain' of the surrounding
city." The conservation area CA33, directly to the north of the DA area, and the other
conservation areas close by are totally at odds with an 8 storey development. The grain of
those areas is terrace houses.

To the south are apartment buildings. Motto 2 has been built in such a style that it mimics
the vertical nature of the terrace homes whilst being a multi storey building. But it is not
8 storeys.

It is contended that allowing for an 8 storey development contravenes Council's own
objective. The Sustainable Sydney 2030 Vision also states that urban renewal buildings
may be iconic or landmark but "more typically as a well-designed building that fits
sensitively into the streetscape". No building in the vicinity of the DA has a height of 8
residential storeys. The degree to which Motto itself fits sensitively is highly debatable
and that building is above the DCP 2006 guidelines which limited the area to 4 storeys.
It is contended that the DA must be rejected as to not do so would result in Council
contravening its own objective of sensitivity to the streetscape.

SOCIAL IMPACT
There is no provision in the DA for amenities that would alleviate familial concerns for
new residents.

There is no requirement for a child care Centre in the DA. It is beyond FOE's knowledge
to predict if Council may make such a requirement mandatory in the future for other parts
of the Estate. FOE notes there is no such requirement in any of the recent planning
documents debated by Council and the CSCP: the Draft DCP 2011 and the LEP 2011.

Child care availability is already now in a critical state, and it is already difficult for
families to place their children into day child care. Many parents travel large distances
daily to place their children into day child care.

Increased population on the scale of this DA would place intolerable pressure on child
care centres, not just in the local area, but all around Sydney. To allow this DA without
provision for child care facilities would place a further burden on existing families in the
area as well as on future residents.

No provision has been made in the Draft DCP 2006 nor the proposed LEP 2011 to
accommodate an increased population of school aged children. Local schools are already
at capacity, and approving a DA with this site density would eventually cause difficulty
for families to place their children into local schools - together with the loss of
environmental, social and economic benefits that would accrue to the area if they were
able to make such placements locally.

CONCLUSION
In conclusion FOE requests that Council deny the approval of this DA in its current form
pending further investigations as outlined in this submission as well as consideration of
Council's own stated objectives in documents such as Sustainable Sydney 2030

For and On Behalf of the Friends of Erskineville Resident's Association

Mike Hatton OAM
President
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