Controversial Northwood Aged Care Facility Rezoning Approved by NSW Govt’s Fast Track Programme

Northwood intersection

As one of the measures to kickstart the NSW economy during and after the COVID-19, the NSW Government announced plans to fast-track the assessment of development applications and rezoning.  The NSW Government wants to keep people in jobs through the COVID-19 pandemic, through its Planning System Acceleration Programme (PSAP).

Controversial Aged Care Facility Fast Tracked

The Pathways Property Group (“Pathways”) residential aged care facility at 274 and 274a Longueville Road and 4-18 Northwood Road, Lane Cove (“Northwood Shops Planning Proposal”) has been fastracked and now the rezoning has been gazetted.

The conditions are set out below

This site is currently occupied by six buildings (including the Metro Service Station aka Speedway Petrol Station and the Riverview Vet).  It is also located at the notorious Longueville Road/Kenneth Street and River Road West intersection.

The proposed development will include:

  • 130-bed residential aged care facility;
  • Allied Health and community well-being services and neighbourhood shops;
  • A Senior Day Care Centre for Local Residents.

You can learn more about the development on the Pathways Longueville website.

What’s the Status of the Development Now the Land has been Rezoned?

The area has been rezoned to B4 –  an aged care facility is a permitted use with consent.  Pathways will now be lodge a DA with Lane Cove Council.  The DA will then be assessed in the same manner that Lane Cove Council assesses any DA.  The matter will go out for public comment.  The biggest issue is traffic flow. Now traffic will be funnelled through local streets in Lane Cove, Longueville and Northwood.  The Lane Cove Council was supposed to have fixed up the notorious intersection mentioned above

Previous Status

On 1 August 2019, the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (“NSW Planning”) requested a meeting with Lane Cove Council and Pathways to discuss the development.   At this meeting, Lane Cove Council continued to object to the current proposal and cited numerous issues that were of concern to Council.

The parties agreed there was merit in changing the zoning to B4 Mixed Use, moving the proposed exit point and bushland setbacks.  There was no agreement on the different views on the height and floor space ratio control.

Lane Cove Council wanted an incentive Height of RL 66.25 metres only.  This is one of the conditions imposed by NSW Planning. 

Lane Cove Council has also asked the developers to contribute towards the construction costs of a roundabout at the intersection of Northwood/River Road as proposed by the applicant of the previous planning proposal, which Lane Cove Council and the community favours to alleviate the impact of traffic resulting from this proposal.

Extract from Lane Cove Council Website

Historical Background

In September 2016, a community meeting was held. The meeting was packed with local residents expressing their displeasure at the Northwood Shops Planning Proposal.

At the February 2017 Lane Cove Council Meeting, the councillors unanimously rejected the Pathways Residences plan. You can read why the Lane Cove Council rejected the proposal here.

On 27 February 2017, Pathways submitted to the NSW Planning a rezoning review against Council’s decision to reject the Northwood Shops Planning Proposal. Despite Lane Cove Council submissions, the Sydney North Planning Panel determined that the proposal demonstrated strategic and site-specific merit and that it should be submitted for a Gateway Determination, along with a draft Development Control Plan.

The Northwood Shops Planning Proposal was granted a Gateway Determination by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.  Even though the Lane Cove Council did not agree with the plan, they were still required to notify and exhibit the planning proposal and hold a further community information session on Wednesday 14 March 2018.

Again the meeting was packed with local residents expressing their displeasure at the proposed Northwood Shops Planning Proposal.

As part of the community consultation, residents were surveyed about the proposed plans with market researchers asking questions in the Lane Cove Plaza.  ITC was told by some of the surveyed residents their number one concern was traffic and the dangerous intersection.  They did not consider the proposed site as appropriate for an aged care facility.

In 2018, Pathways submitted amended plans. Lane Cove Council again refused the Northwood Shops Planning Proposal on the following town planning and urban design grounds:

  • The proposed scale is considered excessive and conflicts with the scale of the nearby Lane Cove Village;
  • The proposed scale is inconsistent with other B1 Neighbourhood Centre zones;
  • The fourth leg at the Kenneth/Northwood signalised intersection is opposed by the RMS;
  • A single site entry/egress is requested at the southern end of the site by the RMS;
  • No public benefits are proposed to be delivered despite a development that seeks substantial uplift;
  • The 3 metre rear buffer to the adjoining SEPP19 bushland (zoned E2) is opposed by NSW Office of Environment & Heritage (OE&H), and it has not been demonstrated that the adjacent bushland can be adequately protected by the proposed 3m wide buffer;
  • Offset planting is required by OE&H on-site if two turpentine trees are removed;
  • NSW OE&H have confirmed that the impacts on the adjoining SEPP19 bushland are not adequately addressed;
  • Based on independent analysis of the original urban design documents, the building envelope envisaged by the proposed floor space ratio and height control cannot be achieved;
  • Council’s independent urban design analysis concludes that both height and floor space ratio are not suitably justified on urban design or planning grounds;
  • Council’s independent urban design analysis has confirmed that a more modest scale would achieve a better-built form and design outcome and further likely reduce overshadowing impacts on adjoining residential properties; and
  • The amended urban design responses do not adequately address issues raised by the Council’s independent urban design analysis, nor do they provide any justification for their proposed height and floor space ratio.


Five Aged Care/Seniors Living Development Applications

In addition to the Northwood Shops Planning Proposal, there are currently four aged care/senior’s living development applications being considered by Lane Cove Council or the Planning Department in the Lane Cove Council Area.

A DA for aged care and/or seniors living have been lodged for the following sites:

266 Longueville Road Lane Cove;

Greenwich Hospital Upgrade to include seniors living;

Retire Australia Seniors Living 40A Cope Street Lane Cove West;

The old Billy Blue site on the corner of Greenwich Road and River Road Greenwich (DA103/2019); and

A new Seniors Living Apartment Complex (40 apartments) is planned for Greenwich Road.  The site was a former private hospital. The hospital closed in 2018 and has relocated to a new facility at 2 Frederick Street, St Leonards.

An update on major developments in the Lane Cove Council Area is here.

This article was updated 20 May 2020 – previously called Controversial Northwood Aged Care Facility on NSW Govt’s Fast Track Planning List

Background to Planning System Acceleration Programme

The NSW Government has stated:

“The Planning System Acceleration Program aims to make decisions on projects more quickly – the assessment process is being accelerated, not changed. The usual planning rules and policies will apply. All projects will be considered under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.”

Specific criteria have been created to identify and progress projects for a fast-tracked assessment.

According to the NSW Government, the criteria have been developed by the government in conjunction with industry and community stakeholders and reflects nation-wide principles agreed by State and Territory leaders through the Council of Australian Governments. The criteria have been reviewed and endorsed by an independent probity advisor.

Accelerated projects, must tick the following boxes:

  • Jobs – does the project create jobs during construction and ongoing?
  • Timing – Can a decision on the project be made quickly?
    – for DAs, can the project commence within six months?
    – for planning proposals, can the project proceed to DA within six months?
  • Public benefit – can the project deliver or support public benefits (e.g. affordable housing or significant public space)?

Decisions on projects listed on the PSAP will be made within four weeks.

Want to Know More About Lane Cove?

To make sure you don’t miss Lane Cove info sign up to our newsletter. It comes out every Wednesday at 7.30 pm and includes every article published in the previous week and all Lane Cove News, Events and more.

Read this week’s newsletter.

Did you know that In the Cove has an Instagram page? Yes, we do, and we feature pictures from our roving reporters and our ITC team that do not appear on our Facebook page. Follow us on @inthecove