In August 2019, Lane Cove Council received a Planning Proposal to amend the Lane Cove Local Environmental Plan 2009 to rezone 166 Epping Road, Lane Cove West, from Industrial to B4 Mixed Use. This zoning change would allow residential towers to be constructed.
The current site is part of the Lane Cove West Light Industrial Area and currently, there is a 3 storey commercial building on the site. Adjoining the site to the east is the Lane Cove Bushwalk and public pedestrian network including the Great Northern Walk.
The Developer is planning to build two residential towers (a South and North tower), twenty-21 storeys and 14 storeys respectively, above the three (3) storey existing building. This equates to about 316 apartments in both towers. (see our cover photo for an artist’s impression of the proposed towers)
Proposal Rejected by Lane Cove Council
The Proposal was referred to the Lane Cove Local Planning Panel for advice in November 2019. The Panel was requested to review and consider relevant issues and amendments proposed by the developer along with the views and concerns raised by Lane Cove Council Staff.
The Planning Panel did not support the proposal and stated the proposal should not proceed any further. The Panel stated:
“The Panel does not accept the applicant’s position that the existing rights enjoyed by the site for commercial use justify rezoning the site from IN2 Light Industry to B4 Mixed Use. To the contrary, the Panel considers that the opportunity cost of rezoning the land must be considered in the planning and economic context of the medium and longer term.
The current use of the site for commercial purposes does not overcome the powerful strategic imperatives of the adopted Regional and local strategies. In particular, the proposal conflicts with Action 46 of the North District Plan which acknowledges “the need to retain and manage industrial and urban services land and prevent the conversion of land to residential development, including mixed use zonings”.
It is acknowledged that, in their submission to the Panel, the Proponent offered to retain the quantum of floor space available for commercial use in any new mixed development. However, the Panel considers that the use of such floorspace would be heavily constrained by the B4 zone and the existence of residential apartments above.
It is also relevant to note that the Lane Cove LGA has exceeded its residential targets for 2020 and will continue to do so based on approvals issued and future developments which are in the pipeline. It is therefore considered that there is no demand for additional residential land within the LGA in the foreseeable future.
The Panel considers that it has not been demonstrated that the loss of industrial land is warranted for the LGA or Region in a strategic planning context.
In addition to the lack of strategic merit, the Panel notes that the site is constrained by limited access, bushfire hazard, potential contamination and the existence of heritage items adjacent to the site.”
This recommendation was supported by the Lane Cove Council at its November 2019 meeting.
Developer Submits Planning Proposal to NSW Planning Department
The Developer was not happy with this outcome and submitted a proposal planning to the NSW State Government in December 2019.
The Developer has submitted the land:
- Is located within the Eastern Economic Corridor of the Greater Sydney Regional Plan and within the area noted as being appropriate for additional housing in the North District Plan;
- It is within a short bus ride of a new Metro Station at North Ryde;
- It is consistent with the ‘30 minute city’ objectives of the regional and district plans as the major employment centres of North Ryde/Macquarie Park, Chatswood, St Leonards/Crows Nest, Artarmon industrial area, North Sydney and Sydney City are within 30 minutes by public transport;
- It will maintain and enhance the employment generating potential of the site, whilst providing for a significant number of additional dwellings to meet growing demand;
- It will provide 10% of the dwellings as affordable rental housing to assist in easing rent stress in the locality;
- The precedent for high density living in this precinct has already been established by Meriton and the viability of retail uses at Meriton and the subject site will be improved from the synergistic benefits;
- It is isolated from established residential areas which will minimise impact on existing lower density communities;
- It will contribute to the enhancement of the surrounding pedestrian network which includes the Great North Walk.
The NSW Department of Planning has not yet assessed the proposal.
This matter illustrates how planning decisions are no longer in the hands of local councils.
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