RetireAustralia has lodged a Development Application to redevelop the former Caroline Chisholm Retirement Village. The development will be independent living apartments for seniors.
You can view the Development Application on the Lane Cove Council’s Website – DA 134/2022.
Who is RetireAustralia?
RetireAustralia is jointly owned by New Zealand Super Fund and Infratil. RetireAustralia is an owner, operator and developer of retirement villages in Australia, with 28 retirement villages across New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
Where is the Development?
The Caroline Chisholm Retirement Village backs onto Burns Bay Ray Road. However, the official address is 40A Cope Street Lane Cove. The 52-apartment retirement village closed in 2017. The Caroline Chisholm Nursing Home (next door) is still operating.
The unoccupied site comprises seven buildings, six buildings are two-storey, and the other is one-storey.
The site is currently zoned under the Lane Cove Local Environment Plan (LEP) as R4 High-Density Residential. This zoning permits a number of uses, including residential flat buildings. Seniors housing is not permitted on this site. However, the State Government can override the Lane Cove LEP by virtue of a planning instrument called a State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPP).
A SEPP is an environmental planning instrument that deals with matters of state or regional environmental planning significance.
The proposed development is permitted under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing) 2021 (Housing SEPP), which commenced on 26 November 2021.
A Development Application must be submitted, and it will be referred to the Sydney North Planning Panel.
In 2020 the Sydney North Planning Panel (SNPP) issued a Site Compatability Certificate to RetireAustralia.
Retire Australia planned to develop a Vertical Development with:
- 93 dwellings in two buildings (29 independent living apartments and 64 assisted care apartments). One building was to be 8 storeys, and the other building was to be 7 storeys;
- 10% will be provided as “affordable dwellings”;
- Basement car parking – 24 spaces;
- On-site dining, community and recreation facilities (including, bar, lounge, café, dining room/servery, gym, library, pool, cinema, outdoor terrace, rooftop terrace and BBQ area, lobby and reception area, meeting rooms and general purposes rooms for hairdressers, beauticians, GP’s and other medical and health professionals); and
- A bus providing transport to and from Lane Cove Village;
RetireAustralia were seeking a “vertical village bonus” that allowed a floor space bonus over the maximum floor space ratio (FSR) allowed on the developed land.
The SNPP issued a site compatibility statement on 7 October 2020 and specified that the development must have one 6-storey or 18m tower and a 4-storey or 12m tower.
Read the entire SNPP site compatibility statement at the bottom of this article.
Since the Site Compatability Statement was issued, RetireAustralia has decided to move away from a combined independent living apartment/assisted care apartment development. The development will now be independent living apartments with some communal services.
Prior to the SNPP issuing the Site Compatability Certificate, Lane Cove Council invited submissions on the proposed development. Residents who live in Cope Street and surrounding streets were against the proposal due to overdevelopment in the area, which has led to traffic and parking congestion and public transport issues.
Development Application Lodged October 2022
The October 2022 Development application has been lodged under the Housing SEPP.
The Housing SEPP allows for a Floor Space Ratio bonus of 15% (for independent living units with no residential care facility) and a height bonus of not more than 3.8m above the applicable height limits.
The new plans include the following:
- Demolition of the seven existing buildings on the site containing the existing 52 aged care units and removal of vegetation as necessary.
- Construction of two (2) buildings of 6 storeys and 4 storeys in height
- 52 independent living units, or apartments (ILAs). There will be 8 x one-bedroom apartments and 35 x two-bedroom apartments and 9 x three-bedroom apartments.
- lower ground floor gym, treatment room and associated amenities, and fire serves and pump room; o ground floor lobby and reception area; sales office; resident kitchen, café and undercover barbeque area; outdoor communal outdoor open space area; and amenities, fire room and covered porte-cochere.
- communal open space area on the podium between the buildings on level 1; o communal open space on the top floor of both buildings.
- solar panels and plant on the roof of both buildings.
- parking for 54 vehicles in a single basement car parking level constructed below both buildings and accessed off Caroline Chisholm Lane via a ramp in the southeastern corner of the site. Fifty-two car parks are located for residents, with the rest (2) allocated as visitor parking;
The total gross floor area of the development will be 6,921m2. The buildings are to be constructed in a combination of masonry, textured pre-cast concrete and rendered fibre-cement external walls, with feature metal panels and vertical aluminium batten privacy and shade screens; steel and glass balcony balustrades; aluminium windows and doors; concrete roof; and metal fascias, gutters and downpipes.
Other construction works include
- Roadworks in Caroline Chisholm Lane to widen the carriageway from the development out to Cope Street to allow two-way traffic movements.
- Footpaths around the perimeter of the buildings.
- Installing all utility services to the site, including a new substation.
- Fencing around the perimeter of the site, including a pedestrian gate at Burns Bay Road.
The Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) lodged with the Development Application notes:
“Under section 87(2)(c) of the Housing SEPP, a height bonus of 3.8m above the maximum permissible building height may be applied – in conjunction with a FSR ratio of 15% (as discussed below in Section 5.1.5) – where:
- development for the purposes of a residential flat building or shop top housing is permitted on the land under another environmental planning instrument; and
- the site area of the development is at least 1,500m2.
On the basis that both these parameters have been met, a bonus of 3.8m is applicable to the proposed development, taking the maximum allowable heights of the proposed buildings on each lot comprising the site to 21.3m and 15.3m to Building A on lot 120 and to Building B on lot 51 respectively. As shown on the various elevations, sections and height planes provided as part of the submitted plans, the height of the proposed development at its highest point in each height limit zone does not exceed either of the two (2) maximum height limits applicable to the site, other than for the lift overrun on Buildings A and B, which exceed the maximum height limits of 21.3m and 15.3 –by 1.8m and 0.6m respectively. these overruns have been architecturally treated and form an integrated part of each roof such that they are permitted under clause 5.6 of LCLEP – Architectural Roof Features.”
An independent town planning assessor engaged by Lane Cove Council does not agree with the above assessment. In a letter to Lane Cove Council dated 4 November 2022, the independent assessor stated:
“Exceedance of Maximum Building Height Limit
The statement of environmental effects asserts that the two lift overruns do not exceed the maximum building height limit as they are “architectural roof features” defined by clause 5.6 of Lane Cove LEP 2009. The applicant is advised that based on the information and plans provided with the application, Council’s Independent Assessor is not satisfied that these encroachments satisfy the definition of architectural roof features. Accordingly, you are requested to either provide additional detail to demonstrate why the lift overruns should be considered as architectural roof features or provide a written submission under clause 4.6 of the LEP requesting exemption from the development standard.”
Parking and Traffic Issues
The Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) lodged with the Development Application notes:
“The traffic generated by the proposed development is likely to be similar to, or not significantly greater than, that generated by previous development on the land given there is no increase in the number of units. As such, any minor increase created by changing vehicle usage patterns and staff movements can be adequately catered for by the existing road network surrounding the site, whilst parking is to be provided in accordance with the requirements of the requirements of the Housing SEPP. Furthermore, any short-term noise and traffic impacts likely to occur during the construction stage will be effectively managed through implementation of a Construction Management Plan.”
Locals are concerned that Cope Street is very narrow and already the street is packed with parked cars. The Garbage Trucks struggle to navigate the narrow road and parked cars.
Locals argue the development does not include sufficient parking for staff, residents and guests. There are 54 car parking spaces and only limited visitor parking.
Any Lane Cove Resident who has lived next to a large-scale apartment building construction site will tell you construction management plans are often ignored by developers, and even when Lane Cove Council issues penalty notices, the fines do not seem to be a deterrent (see our article on the Pathways development on Northwood Road – the contractor/developer has been issued numerous fines for breach of their traffic management plan).
In relation to Parking, the SEE notes:
“Under the Housing SEPP, parking for ILUs (or self-care housing) is required to be provided on the basis of 0.5 spaces per bedroom. With a total of 105 bedrooms i.e. (8 x one beds = 8 beds) + (35 x two bed = 70 beds) + (9 x 3 beds = 27 bedrooms), the proposed development would generate a parking requirement of 52 .5 – or 53 – spaces. In response, the proposed development incorporates parking for 53 vehicles, plus one (1) ambulance bay.”
ITC Note: the SEE refers to both 53 and 54 Car Parking Spaces.
Public Transport Issues
RetireAustralia has submitted that public transport is available.
“…extensive bus services are available to the site to take future residents to the wide range of additional retail, community and medical services in the Lane Cove town centre and Hunters Hill village centre, both of which are approximately 1.8 km from the site and in the larger centres of Chatswood, Gladesville, North Sydney, Burwood and the Sydney CBD. In this regard, there are four (4) bus stops within 400m (in fact, less than 300m) of the site – two (2) on Cope Street (one to the north-west and one to the north-east) and two (2) on Burns Bay Road (one to the north and south of the site respectively).”
Locals will disagree with this point. The 251 bus service only departs Cope Street in peak period time (for example, in the morning from 6.16 am to 9.46 am). Previously the 252 bus service stopped in Cope Street near Caroline Chisholm and at the corner of Cope Street and Penrose Street. Now to safely catch the 252 bus service, passengers must walk from Cope Street to the lights at Burns Bay Road and Penrose Street, cross the road, and catch the bus. Some seniors may not be able to walk this far (and it is slightly uphill). Crossing Burns Bay Road at Cope Street is too dangerous to catch a bus coming from Hunters Hill.
RetireAustralia has said they will provide:
“.., a village bus provided by Retire Australia will provide on-call, or additional “as needed services” to these nearby retail, recreational, commercial and health facilities or other destinations as required.”
A heritage impact statement has been lodged as part of the Development Application. Unfortunately, it is impossible to provide a separate link to this report due to the Lane Cove Council’s Development Application Portal Structure. However, if you are interested in the heritage aspects, go to Lane Cove Council’s Website and search DA 134/2022 (and then go to application documents and look for the Heritage Impact Statement).
A sandstone wall along Burns Bay Road is listed as an item of local heritage significance in the Lane Cove LEP 2009. There is a plan to remove some of the sandstone wall to allow a substation to be built (see our cover photo and notice how the grey substation box is lined up with the heritage wall).
An independent town planning assessor engaged by Lane Cove Council in a letter to Lane Cove Council dated 4 November 2022, notes that the heritage impact statement:
“provides background information on the two-storey dwelling which was originally known as Walhalla. The report indicates that this dwelling may date back to around 1927. Although described in the report as “highly modified”, it is observed that some of the original features may still exist, for example brick chimneys and terracotta chimney pots. Notwithstanding that the dwelling is not listed as a heritage item, Council’s independent assessor is concerned that there may be some heritage significance associated with this dwelling (to be demolished) which has not been considered in the heritage impact statement.”
Senior Housing Independent Living Apartments
RetireAustralia has removed the assisted age care living apartments and their SEE notes:
“The site was purchased by Retire Australia in 2017 with the intention to redevelop it into a retirement village comprised of higher quality ILAs, to fill a clear market gap in the Lane Cove LGA for this type of product.”
At the Lane Cove Council 16th August 2021 Meeting, the councillors discussed the NSW Housing SEPP Consultation. The Officer’s Report set out in the Agenda Papers noted the following:
“Concentration of Seniors Housing
It is still considered that there should be a concentration threshold for the provision of age care development under the seniors SEPP, so that once a certain concentration of developments has been reached within a set area e.g. 2 square km, the SEPP should no longer apply. This is because the SEPP is sometimes used in order to access the concessions granted and areas can ultimately end up with an oversupply of seniors housing, placing demands on services and unintended, out-of-character built form outcomes.”
The councillors discussed this issue in detail and decided the above threshold would be hard to enforce. During the debate, Council staff were asked for their opinion on the need for senior housing in Lane Cove in light of Lane Cove’s social plan. The council officer stated:
“not delivered much for aged care concept.”
“..missing aged care to keep seniors in Lane Cove.”
Mayor Pam Palmer stated: “..do need some more nursing homes ..keep encouraging more facilities for elderly.”
This development will not include assisted aged care.
Comment on the Development Application
Neighbouring property owners were informed about the development via a Lane Cove Council Neighbourhood Notification Letter dated 31 October 2022.
Submissions can be made up until 15 November 2022 (even if this date has passed Lane Cove Council usually accepts a submission lodged a few days after the final submission date). To lodge a submission, email [email protected] . Your submission must include DA 134/2022 40A Cope Street Lane Cove NSW in the subject matter line. You must also include a telephone or email address if the council needs to contact you.
If you are concerned about the proposal, you should make a submission and encourage others to make a submission. For maximum impact, the submission should be in your own words; submitting a standard form letter or a petition is not considered a unique submission and will not carry as much weight with the Sydney North Planning Panel assessment.
Cover Photo: PhotoMontage Prepared by Architect Jackson Teece
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