Planning NSW Denies Due Process For Controversial Lane Cove Council Backed Development

In what could only be likened to an episode of Yes Minister and Utopia rolled into one sitcom, Planning NSW and Lane Cove Council’s actions are denying due process to Lane Cove Residents.

266 Longueville Road Lane Cove

The Lane Cove Council has entered into an Agreement for Lease with Australian Unity Limited in relation to the redevelopment of  266 Longueville Road Lane Cove.

The Lane Cove Council is the owner of the land, and the lease is a 99-year lease.

The development will comprise 82 one and two-bedroom independent living units, 70 aged care beds and 122 parking spots (for employees, residents and visitors).  To find out more, search DA117/2017.

Since before the land was rezoned, local residents have been concerned about the traffic issues that will arise due to this development.   

This development has a very long and complex history.   The Sydney North Planning Panel (SNPP) is hearing this matter on 4 August 2021.  The last time residents were able to voice their objections to this development was back in 2018.  They have now been given a very short period of time in the middle of a global pandemic to review this matter and prepare submissions.   This is a denial of due process, and the SNPP has issued incorrect notices and breached privacy rules.


15 April 2013

Lane Cove Council resolved to support a planning proposal for 266 Longueville Road to enable the rezoning of land from RE1 Public Recreation to R4 High-Density Residential and reclassify the land from community to operational land.

266 Longueville Road used to be a bowling green and also used to house the Lane Cove Cultural and Music Centre.  Lane Cove Council recently demolished this centre as it contains asbestos.  During the demolition, Worksafe was called to the site by concerned neighbours.

Lane Cove Council contractors failed to specify the date that they were removing the asbestos and demolishing the building (which was constructed during the lead paint era). Their contractors did not provide any guidance on how neighbours could protect themselves from dust particles.  Lane Cove Council refused to assist neighbours to clean up their balconies, and one resident was so upset they moved out during demolition.   ITC understands that Worksafe sent a letter to the council setting out their concerns.

23 May 2013

Lane Cove Council requested NSW Planning to issue a Gateway determination for the subject planning proposal

26 June 2013

NSW Planning issued a Gateway determination for the subject planning proposal.

23 October – 26 November 2013

The planning proposal was publicly exhibited.

3 December 2013

An independent commissioner held a public hearing as the planning proposal intended to reclassify land from community to operational.  The commissioner raised concerns and asked for further information.

17 March 2014 – Lane Cove Council Meeting

Lane Council resolved to support the planning proposal. The North Shore Times reported that children stayed up past their bedtime to plead with the Lane Cove Council not to rezone the green space they used for sport and a park.

The North Shore Times further reported that it was a heated debate about the rezoning, and Councillor Scott Bennison told two female councillors to man up.  The North Shore Times quoted the then-Mayor David Brookes Horn as saying the incident was regrettable.  You can read the article here.

The officer report to Lane Cove Council prepared in part by Mr Mason stated:

“The Commissioner’s report has recommended deferral of the proposal until further assessment is undertaken.  Council staff believe that recommendations made by the Commissioner in his report have been fully addressed in this report to the point that Council can and should determine the matter.  A number of the Commissioner’s recommendations are supported and are discussed in the Community Consultation section of this report.”

31 July 2015

The Lane Cove Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2009 (Amendment No.17) was notified on the NSW Legislation website.

8 May 2017

NSW Planning received an application for a Site Compatibility Statement (SCC) prepared by GSA on behalf of Australian Unity Limited for 266 Longueville Road Lane Cove. The SCC was for a 70-bed residential aged care facility, 93 self-contained dwellings for seniors, support facilities for residents and basement car parking for 148 vehicles.  You cannot lodge a DA without an SCC.

6 July 2017

NSW Planning issues an SCC for 266 Longueville Road for a residential aged care facility comprising of 70 beds, and 90 independent dwellings were submitted to Lane Cove Council.

21 August 2017

The Development Application is lodged by Australian Unity, and the DA publicly displayed, and 186 submissions received.

22 September 2017

A development application is then lodged with the Sydney North Planning Panel (SNPP) as the consent authority. The Sydney North Planning Panel reviews the DA as an independent body.  The Lane Cove Council is the owner of the land and cannot be the body responsible for assessing the DA.  The Lane Cove Council planning department’s role is to collate all the objections and provide all information to assist the SNPP in making a decision.

25 May – 18 June 2018

 New Plans lodged by Australian Unity, and public comment requested on new plans – 97 Submissions Received

12 June 2018

ITC writes to Mayor Pam Palmer and sets out concerns about documents not being uploaded to the DA portal in a timely manner for residents to review. Some residents had lodged their objections after an important letter from the RMS was received.  The RMS letter was dated 1 November 2017 and not uploaded until 22 November 2017.  ITC lists 5 documents that have not been uploaded quickly or, if uploaded, were not marked to be displayed.

11 July 2018

The SNPP defers the development application for additional information, which included the following recommendations:

  • A detailed site investigation under SEPP 55 • Independent peer review of traffic assessments
  • Assessment of ecological impacts to ensure development does not significantly impact flora and fauna on the site and adjacent E2 zone.
  • Assessment of visual impact from the golf course, east ridgeline and Richardson Street West
  • Plans and supporting information provided to the Department for the original SCC
  • Calculation of gross floor area/floor space ratio based on the SEPP
  • Drawings that reflect an increased setback on the southern boundary by 1m with no decrease on the northern side, and 2m landscaped strip towards ‘Timbertops’ for landscape screening.
  • Based on the ecological assessment, the eastern boundary is to be adjusted as required.

Australian Unity is given until 24 August 2018 to submit this information.

28 August 2018

Australian Unity writes to the SNPP and asks for more time to submit the information requested on 11 July 2018.   They requested an extension of time to submit the documentation by 19 October 2018.

8 January 2019

The SNPP extend the timeframe for the submission of additional information until 29 March 2019.

Lane Cove Council March Meeting 2019

In a closed session, Lane Cove Council agrees to amend the Agreement for Lease between Australian Unity and LCC and to change dates in relation to the ability to terminate the Agreement for Lease if development consent is not obtained by a sunset date.

Extract of Minutes of Meeting of LCC March 2019


The General Manager read the recommendation of the Item considered in Closed Committee prior to Council’s consideration:

It is recommended that the Council close so much of the meeting to the public as provided for under Section 10A(2) (c) of the Local Government Act, 1993, on the grounds that the report contains information that would, if disclosed, confer a commercial advantage on a person with whom the council is conducting (or proposes to conduct) business; it further being considered that discussion of the matter in an open meeting would be, on balance, contrary to the public interest by reason of the foregoing.


In the Cove writes to the Office of Local Government and points out the above minutes are not transparent and do not provide residents with enough information.  The Office of Local Government agrees and writes to the General Manager pointing out the deficiencies in the minute taking.

1 May – 3 June 2019

Amended Development Application on Public Display – 182 Submissions lodged by Lane Cove Residents raising concerns about the development.

6 July 2019

The SCC issued for 266 Longueville Road expires.   Australian Unity was responsible for adhering to deadlines, and their delay had resulted in the SCC expiring.

2 September 2019

ITC writes to the Lane Cove Council and asks them to update their website to provide information on what is happening.  Residents are not aware of the SCC issues.  The Lane Cove Council responds, “Correct, but as the SCC is only a process matter given its replacing the existing, no update is required.”

As you will see from below, issuing an SCC is hardly a process matter.

2 September 2019

NSW Planning received a second SCC for a residential aged care facility comprising 70 beds and 82 independent living dwellings.

28 May 2020

The SNPP issued a second SCC for the subject site.

The SCC conditions note that height should be capped to RL 62.8, effectively requiring the deletion of the top two storeys.  Australian Unity did not like this condition.

During the  2020 COVID lockdown period, NSW Planning looked at all sites being reviewed by Planning to see which sites could be fast-tracked through the planning system to facilitate developments.  266 Longueville Road was not chosen to be fast-tracked. It was not shovel ready, and there were many outstanding issues.

However, the Pathways aged care development was fast-tracked.

16 November 2020

Mr Craig Wrightson, Lane Cove General Manager, writes a report requesting the Lane Cove Councillors appoint the recently retired former head of Lane Cove Council planning section to be the Lane Cove Council’s representative on the SNPP.  Mr Mason is appointed as one of the LCC’s representatives on the SNPP.

3 December 2020

NSW Planning receives a third SCC application for the 266 Longueville Road for a residential aged care facility comprising 70 beds and 82 independent living dwellings.

18 March 2021

The Lane Cove Council writes to the SNPP and states

“Council supports the amended proposal and raises no objections to the issue of an amended SCC, which should include the deletion of 1(a), 1 (b) and 1 (c) and any other amendment to facilitate the development as proposed.”

The new Executive Manager writes the letter of Planning (who previously worked at the Auburn City Council).

ITC wrote to Mayor Pam Palmer and asked her if the wording of the letter was a conflict of interest as the wording was consistent with the LCC being the owner of the land and not in its role as providing support to the SNRP.   Residents have also taken issue with several other statements in the letter and, in particular, the statements about views from Longueville Road and the Golf Course.

10 June 2021

A third SCC is issued, and the second SCC with the condition on height and number of storeys is revoked.

16 July 2021

Residents who had submitted objections to the DA back in June 2018 and August 2017 are given notice that the SNPP planning panel will be hearing the DA on 4 August 2021.  The SNPP secretariat is only required to upload documents to its website 7 days before the hearing.

The SNPP notice to residents is invalid.  It does not have the correct address and refers to a Northern Beaches property.  Residents could only access the notice of a meeting by clicking on a link in the email.  How many residents deleted the email before reading it as they thought it was sent in error?

19 July 2021

Residents write to the SNPP and ask for the meeting to be rescheduled to provide time to review the documents in light of what has taken place since 2018.

ITC was copied in on the following letter to SNPP

“Further to your notice of meeting in relation to the above matter, I raise the following concerns regarding the scheduled date:

– The hearing is scheduled for a few days after the current covid lockdown. It is an extraordinarily stressful time for the local residents affected by this development, with many working from home and homeschooling.

– This is an insufficient period of notice for local residents impacted by the development to review all the many documents in relation to this development to prepare for the panel hearing – it has been over a year since this DA was put on hold by the applicant, and over 2 years since most submissions were prepared. We have also not had time to consider how the new Site Compatibility Certificate conditions impact this DA. We have not received any other information regarding the current status of this matter or any amended plans.

– We have not received a copy of the independent assessors report regarding how this DA complies with SNPs previous requirements or the reissued Site Compatibility Certificate.

The applicant has delayed this process for an extended period of time, and residents should be afforded additional consideration to have time to prepare for the panel hearing.

I respectfully request that the secretariat reschedule this meeting in consideration of both the current lockdown and the lack of notice to prepare after this extended period of delay.”

 19 July 2021

Councillor Andrew Zbik moves an urgent motion at the Lane Cove Council meeting asking for council staff to write to the SNPP panel to delay the hearing to permit residents time to review the documentation.

21 July 2021

The Planning Department sends out an email to numerous (but not all) residents who lodged a submission advising that the Independent Assessor’s Report was available on their website.  They breach privacy by displaying the email addresses of the people who objected.  They also advised the wrong date for people to register to be heard at the planning panel.

New Traffic Issues – No Traffic Report

Residents are outraged and upset by the lack of notice and time to prepare for a development that will impact them.  Residents want the area to be redeveloped into a beautiful green space or sporting fields to flow onto the golf course.

One of the issues is the driveway location.  The RMS has recommended that the driveway be located near 268 Longueville Road (which is close to the famous Diddy intersection, which is currently being upgraded for safety reasons).  The RMS require that all access to the driveway is be left turn in and left turn out.  The Diddy intersection will have a right-hand arrow for drivers to turn right into River Road West.

Plans have been drawn up to construct a roundabout at the Northwood Road/River Road – this, in theory, could mean people may use it after exiting the new development – but does not assist for traffic heading to the development from North Sydney/Greenwich.

A medium strip is to be constructed.  This will mean that all traffic coming from North Sydney/Greenwich will only be able to access 266/268 Longueville Road via turning right into Austin Street and then left into Alpha Road and right at Longueville Road.  This will funnel all traffic past St Michaels Primary School.

Mr Steve Conlon,  the previous St Michaels principal, submitted an objection based on the safety of his students.  Due to the delay caused by Australian Unity, the current principal has not been involved.  How will she have time to prepare a submission when she would be focussing her attention on how to assist her staff and children to home school?  All St Michaels parents should be concerned about the traffic being forced by the school (Alpha Road) and should speak at the planning panel.

You can register to speak at the Planning Panel by contacting the Planning Panels Secretariat before 4 pm on Monday, 2 August 2021 on 02 8217 2060 or via email to [email protected]. Once registered, you will be provided with the phone number and conference ID code to enable you to dial into and join the public teleconference.  You must quote PPS-2017SNH069  266 Longueville Road.

SNPP Member Conflict of Interest

At the same time, the above happening SNPP is reviewing other DA’s submitted in the Lane Cove Council Area.  One of the DA relates to 29‐57 Christie Street, St Leonards.  The SNPP Planning Panel is briefed on the matter by the secretariat before a panel meeting.

Mr Mason attended the briefing for this matter.  Mr Mason was the executive director of planning at Lane Cove until November 2020.  Page 30 of the Sydney Regional and Planning Panel Operational Procedures provides that only Planning Panel members who are sitting on the Panel for the determination should attend the briefing.  Mr Mason attended an SNPP briefing where it can be strongly argued he had a conflict of interest or a perceived conflict of interest.

The above is an example of why Lane Cove residents are upset and frustrated with Lane Cove Council, NSW Planning and the current planning system, which has been designed to fast track developments.   Aged care is important.  However, the Independent Living Units at this development will be aimed at the active over 55’s with three-bedroom apartments.

Since Lane Cove Council decided to develop this facility, there has been an increase in aged care and senior housing developments in Lane Cove.  There will be aged care around the corner at the Pathways Development (where the old Riverview Vet was).  St Columbus is expanding their aged care facility on Centennial Avenue.  There will be aged care and residential villages at Greenwich Hospital and Greenwich Road.

Note:  ITC lives in Central Lane Cove and has submitted a personal submission to the SNPP.

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