Court says public misled by North Sydney Council

16 April 2008

The Urban Taskforce says North Sydney Council should be stripped of its planning powers for its central business district after a Court decision finding that the public had been misled.

The Taskforces chief executive, Aaron Gadiel, said the Land and Environment Court had delivered a stinging rebuke to the Council.


When a judge of the Land and Environment Court finds a council has misled the public we have to question the fitness of the council to make crucial planning decisions.


In a 37 page judgment, Justice David Lloyd struck down a proposed new local environment plan for North Sydneys central business district. The Court found that the council had made a series of misrepresentations about the plan. The Court found that the council had misled the community by denying its plan could reduce residential development in North Sydneys centre.


The council should have been up-front with the community about its plans to reduce the potential for new homes in North Sydneys heart, Mr Gadiel said.


The plan was embarrassingly inadequate and prohibits further residential development within the centre.


Good urban design means that housing, workplaces, shopping, and recreation areas should be encouraged within walking distance of each other and major public transport hubs like North Sydney.


North Sydneys centre is a great place to provide the new compact, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighbourhoods our city so desperately needs.


Its disappointing that not only did the Council propose a plan that could have reduced residential development in North Sydneys centre it misled the public about its intentions.


Justice Lloyd also said that the public was misled by councils assurances that its plan would deliver the necessary commercial floor space for North Sydneys business district.


Without renewal and growth, North Sydneys centre will fall short of the goals set for it by the State Government, Mr Gadiel said.


The NSW Governments metropolitan strategy says North Sydney, together with the Sydney CBD, makes up Global Sydney. It is supposed to be a focus for world class business, tourism, cultural, health, education and entertainment activities.


The councils plan only aims for an extra 250,000 square metres of additional commercial floor space, Mr Gadiel said.


The Court has confirmed that its unlikely to even meet this modest target.


The plan was a sham relying on redevelopment on five particular sites to meet its target, but failing to acknowledge that redevelopment of three of the sites is not viable.


It also failed to encourage the replacement or redevelopment of older buildings because it requires the buildings to be kept within the existing footprints.


Shadowing rules mean even the slightest increase in the height or shape of a building could lead to the refusal of a development application.


Justice Lloyd also criticised the council for ignoring a submission by the Urban Taskforce, saying that it was an important submission that ought to have been considered.


North Sydney Council should be stripped of planning responsibility for the North Sydney centre, and an independent panel should be appointed, Mr Gadiel said.


The Urban Taskforce is a property development industry group, representing Australias most prominent property developers and equity financiers.


The NSW development industrys annual turnover is $35 billion and employs 180,000 people, accounting for six percent of the States total employment. It is the fifth largest contributor to the State economy.



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