The owners of Montefiore Residential Care have asked Council to re-zone their massive Hunters Hill site between Barons Crescent and High Street from 2-storey Low Residential (8.5m height) to the recently created zone of SP2 Infrastructure (24m height) – allowing buildings of 6 storeys or more.
Montefiore’s Planning Proposal was published on Council’s website on 16 June but was sent straight to the Local Planning Panel (LPP) on 22 June. Fortunately, the Panel reflected the community’s concerns and unanimously resolved not to support Council’s recommendation that the Planning Proposal be sent to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a ‘Gateway Determination’.
The LPP’s resolution included the advice to Council that adequate time was needed for assessment of the contextual understanding of impacts on similar aged care sites within the Municipality and recommended wider community consultation. In spite of this, and Council’s own Resolution ‘to hold a community meeting as soon as practicable after the lodgement of a Planning Proposal for the Montefiore site’, Council’s plan is to consult the community only after the Gateway Determination – by which time it is unlikely to be overturned.
1. This rezoning could result in severe and permanent impacts across the whole of Hunters Hill LGA! It could affect the low-rise residential streetscapes, character and amenity of our existing neighbourhoods. Allowing this site to be zoned for height increases could set a precedent for the 7 other aged care sites, including seniors’ complexes in Woolwich Road, Ferdinand Street, Passy Avenue and Hunters Hill Village.
2. Montefiore’s proposal would allow for buildings up to 24m in height to accommodate 144 one, two and three bedroom independent living apartments, whilst at the same time closing 126 existing residential aged care beds. This at a time when the latest census data shows that our 85+ demographic is predicted to increase more than any other age group.
3. With a planned 260+ space car park/loading dock with entrances in High Street and Barons Crescent directly opposite wildlife catchment areas and heritage listed Boronia Park, the extra traffic movements caused by the 24/7 operation of the new housing estate (currently only Stage 1) will result in more traffic disruption and congestion on all feeder roads including Ryde Road, Park Road, High Street and Pittwater Road and local roads already under pressure.
Even though arguments against the questionable use of the SP2 Infrastructure category to facilitate increased height were presented to Council and individual Councillors by representatives of the Community Action Association, who are pressing for a more moderate redevelopment consistent with the character of the local area, there has so far not been an adequate or properly considered response.
Council’s lack of transparency over this issue is unacceptable when it has apparently been in discussion with Montefiore for 17 months. Releasing the analysis of technical reports requested by the LPP only a few days before the EGM when the final decision will be made, is unreasonable and disrespectful to the community.