Local Residents Oppose Comfort Inn Redevelopment – Gatacre Avenue Lane Cove

Residents who live in or around Gatacre Avenue and Allison Avenue Lane Cove are concerned about the proposed redevelopment of the Comfort Inn in Lane Cove.

Redeveloped Site Details

Developers will purchase the Comfort Inn and a house located on Allison Avenue.  They will be demolished and replaced by a 6 storey residential apartment building with street frontages on Gatacre Avenue and Allison Avenue Lane Cove.

Artist Impression of the Development – Source Statement of Environmental Effects Planning Ingenuity Dated 10 May 2021

The Complex will have 61 apartments in the following configuration:

  • 14 x 1 bedroom
  • 20 x 2 bedroom
  • 17 x 3 bedroom
  • 9 x 4 bedroom
  • 1 x 5 bedroom

The plans provide for 121 car parking and visitor parking spaces.  This slightly exceeds the minimum requirement for parking required by the Lane Cove Council (which is 115 car parking spaces).

Are Apartments Permitted in this Area?

The land is zoned R4 High-Density zone under the Lane Cove Local Environmental Plan 2009 (LEP), and apartments are permitted.  However, the land is very close to an R2 low-density zone which is primarily houses.   The development is located on a very steep hill.

Lane Cove LEP zoning map

ITC has reviewed many apartment development applications over the years. This application is very similar to others where the developer is seeking an extension to the maximum height permitted in the Lane Cove Councils LEP.

Height Levels under Lane Cove LEP

The Statement of Environmental Effects includes the following:

“The architectural plans indicate that the proposed development has a maximum height of 17.7m to the parapet roof within the eastern wing in accordance with the definition of height under LCLEP 2009. It is also noted that the proposal is non-compliant to the parapet roof within the western wing fronting Gatacre Avenue, with a maximum height of 17.65m. The proposal is therefore non-compliant with the development standard and seeks a maximum variation of 2.7m or 18% to the parapet roof fronting Allison Avenue. It is also noted that a minor portion of the roof above Level 4 is non-compliant within the western and eastern wings.

The height breach is at its greatest for the south-eastern edge of the parapet roof fronting Allison Avenue. This results in a maximum height variation of 17.7m for the eastern wing of the development and is a maximum variation of 2.7m or 18%. With regards to the western wing, the maximum height breach of 17.65m is to the parapet roof located fronting Gatacre Avenue. The topography is considered to be the site-specific reasons for the extent of this variation, given the significant cross fall from the northern to southern (side) boundaries and fall from Gatacre to Alison Avenue.”

Why Are Neighbours Opposed to this Development?

A spokesperson for the local residents told ITC they know the land is located in R4, and the site will eventually be developed.  However, they argue that the steep nature of the site should be taken into account, and any development should be compatible with the local character of the streets.  They are particularly concerned about the building height breach and setbacks.

In 2019, The Sydney Morning Herald wrote an article on building heights and quoted Planning Minister Rob Stokes.  The article said:

“Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said new developments should complement existing neighbourhoods.

“Height is only one consideration in planning the future growth and character of an area, alongside form, scale, public space, and infrastructure capacity,”

Both Alison Avenue and Gatacre Avenue are narrow local streets with limited street parking.   Residents argue, if approved, the development will a huge impact on the already congested and narrow streets in the local area.  The number of car parking spaces will not be enough for the number of expected residents and guests.

The development is located behind the 99 Bikes building on the Pacific Highway, which will also be redeveloped.  A DA was approved for a next-generation boarding house at 382 Pacific Highway Lane Cove.  This Development will have:

  • 54 Single Rooms (all incl. ensuite & kitchenette);
  • There will be a maximum of 95 boarders;
  • 27 car parking spaces and 14 Motorbikes; and
  • All existing structures will be demolished.

The Boarding House was approved by the Lane Cove Council by delegation on 13 November 2020.  Read more here about next-generation boarding houses.

The Comfort Inn owners submitted comments on the proposed boarding house development application and noted:

“Once this boarding house is operating, we have concerns regarding the small amount of parking for the residents of said boarding house. This area of Lane Cove already suffers from a shortage of street parking. We are already experiencing overflow parking of residents from the recently constructed boarding house illegally parking on our property. We are having to attempt to contact people on a regular basis to have them remove vehicles from our property. This development would exacerbate an already existing problem. Our guests and staff currently park on land owned by us and upon which we pay rates to Lane Cove Council. We simply seek that this development’s parking needs be met in a similar fashion.”

Who is the Developer?

Gatacre LC Pty Ltd has submitted the Development Application.  This company is part of Winim Group.

This is not the first time the Winim Group have looked to develop property in Lane Cove. The Winim Group sold 9 Mafeking Lane Cove after DA approval and another company developed the site.

ITC contacted the Winim Group to ask for their comments on the resident’s concerns.  Their town planners provided the following comment:

“The proposed development application involving the construction of a 6 storey residential flat building is development permissible with consent on the site which is zoned R4 High-Density zone under the Lane Cove Local Environmental Plan 2009 and has been designed to in consideration of all relevant planning standards and controls. The proposal has been designed by highly regarded architects, Rothelowman.

The Applicant will be following due process for the assessment of the application by Lane Cove Council, which given the application is a development to which SEPP 65 applies, will be required to be determined by the Local Planning Panel.”

History of the Comfort Inn

The Comfort Inn has been part of the community since the 1960s.  It was the first Country Comfort hotel in Australia.

In 2003, Ian and Lula Hackney purchased the Country Comfort hotel.  They were very experienced hotel operators after 25 years of operating country motels in Murrurundi NSW, Toowoomba QLD and Kiama NSW.

The Hotel posed an exciting new challenge for the Hackneys, and within 6 months, extensive refurbishments were completed. The hotel was re-launched with Choice Hotels Australasia as ‘Comfort Inn North Shore’.

The Comfort Inn has 43 units and car parking for guests.  It’s time for the Hackney’s to retire.  Ian Hackney told In The Cove that the Comfort Inn, and hotels like it, have had their day and are declining in popularity.  They will continue to operate Comfort Inn and service their guest while the development application is processed.

How Do I View the Plans?

If you are interested in reviewing the DA and the associated plans and documents – click here.

You can view a 3D model of the Development here.

How Do I Comment on the Plans?

The Public can comment on the plans by submitting your comments in writing and emailing them to [email protected] by 19 June 2021.  You must quote DA 65/2021 when submitting your comments.

Lane Cove Council’s Neighbour Notification Process

For a considerable period of time In the Cove has been asking the Lane Cove Council to improve the way it notifies neighbours of development applications.  At one stage, the notices were being sent out by post and taking days to reach neighbours (due to Australia Post changing its delivery days).  This is a problem when there is only a short window of time to comment on a development application (usually between 14 to 16 days).

The neighbours only found out about this development after seeing a notice at the development site.  In the Cove was taking pictures of the site, and we did not notice any signage about the development.

A Lane Cove Council DA notification letter dated 4th June 2021 appears to have been hand-delivered to neighbours.  One neighbour told us they received the letter on 10th June 2021, and this leaves very little time for neighbours to review and comment on the documents.

It is also strange that this development is not included in the list of Currently Advertised DA’s on the Lane Cove Council site – we will let the Lane Cove Council know that the site has been omitted.

ITC will also be attending the next Lane Cove Council meeting and again requesting a better DA neighbour notification process be implemented.

Cover Photo

Our Cover Photo was sent to us by the Gatacre Avenue/Allison Avenue Residents Group and shows some of the members of that group outside the Comfort Inn.

Are You Looking to Buy or Sell in Lane Cove?

In The Cove is now producing a weekly Lane Cove Property Update. See our latest update here. 

If you are selling, ask your agent if they are an ITC Lane Cove Property Guide supporter.

In the Cove is on Instagram

If you would like to follow ITC’s travels throughout Lane Cove and see some beautiful pictures of where we live, follow ITC on Instagram here.

In the Cove Weekly News Blast

Have you ever heard people talking about a hot Lane Cove issue and wondered how they knew about it?  More than likely, they get our newsletter every Wednesday Night at 7.30 pm, and it has all the info that was on any of our social media platforms and more – so sign up now and never have FOMO (fear of missing out). SIGN UP HERE