Controversial Northwood Aged Care One Step Closer as DA is Lodged

    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).

    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 fast-tracked, and now the rezoning has been gazetted.

    As a result of this gazettal, an aged care facility is now allowed in a zone in which it was previously prohibited.

    Six buildings currently occupy this site (although the Metro Service Station aka Speedway Petrol Station was demolished this week – see over cover photo).  It is also located at the notorious Longueville Road/Kenneth Street and River Road West intersection.

    Development Application Lodged

    On 28 August 2020 Pathways lodged DA 113/2020 was lodged.

    Pathways are seeking approval for a mixed-use development which includes:

    • The demolition of all existing building and structures, including the removal of 11 trees
    • Site preparation and earthworks including excavation of one full basement level and two-part basement levels
    • The construction of a part 3 and part 5 storey building comprising:
      • “residential aged care facility” (RACF) containing 143 beds and ancillary services ú 2,051sqm sqm commercial premises and medical centre including ancillary hydrotherapy pool
      • Basement parking for 86 vehicles, 65 bicycles and six motorcycles
      • Associated landscaping, paving and retaining walls.
      • Consolidation of all lots of Subsequent development application(s) will be lodged for the future use of the commercial areas.

    It is anticipated the commercial area will include retail and business uses such as a pharmacy, hair and beauty salon, and café. Remediation of the site is being undertaken as development without consent under a Remediation Action Plan. Relocation of the existing telecommunications tower is currently being negotiated and will be conducted per the Telecommunications Act.

    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 differs from the concept plan lodged with the rezoning request.  Pathways now want 143 Aged Care Beds, not 130-beds.

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

    What is the Next Step?

    The DA  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. When the Lane Cove Council released the plans for the redevelopment of the Golf Course, it made mention of a roundabout near Northwood Road and River Road West.  Will this assist with the traffic flow?

    Lane Cove Council did ask 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.  Pathways did not agree to this proposal.

    Extract from Lane Cove Council Website

    Five Aged Care/Seniors Living Development Applications

    It seems that Aged Care/Senior Living is a trend in the Lane Cove Council area.  There has been an explosion in the number of Aged Care/Senior Living development applications in the Lane Cove Council Area?  Why is this?

    By creating senior living developments, developers can construct apartments in areas where apartments would not usually be permitted as they certainly would not fit with the character and feel of local neighbourhoods.  This is because, in 1982, the NSW Government made a State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP 5) to support the supply of housing for older people and people with a disability.

    In March 2004, the Government replaced SEPP 5 with a new policy focused on balancing growing demand for this type of accommodation with maintaining the character and feel of local neighbourhoods – State Environmental Planning Policy (Seniors Living) 2004.

    In September 2007, Amendment No 2 changed the name of the SEPP to State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004.

    5 Other Aged/Care Senior Living DA’s

    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 – The DA has been approved for a (DA103/2019); and

    An eight-storey seniors housing development pursuant to SEPP Seniors comprising 40 independent living units with three basement levels accommodating 76 car spaces and loading zone. A new Seniors Living Apartment Complex (40 apartments) is planned for 2 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.  More Details here


    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 disagreed 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.

    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 available benefits (e.g. affordable housing or significant public space)?


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