In last night’s council meeting, Councillor Charles Jago introduced two notices of motion, both passed by the meeting with support of all councillors:
1. Notice of Motion on residential building efficiency targets
Many people will be aware that anybody building a new residence (or even making substantial modifications to one) must submit and pass a BASIX test. However BASIX is now out of date and does not ensure the building efficiency needed to reduce emissions to reach Australia’s climate obligations. The revised targets proposed in this motion to apply in the BASIX standard are in line with those proposed by Kinesis, who are leading experts in this field. The owners of Kinesis substantially created the BASIX standard while working in government. Kinesis has also done work for Canada Bay Council. These changes recommended in the motion will also ensure substantial long-term savings for households in new Canada Bay dwellings – some $200 to $500 per year. The motion requires Council to write a letter to the NSW Government strongly recommending that they update the targets in BASIX to match (or improve on) its commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. That’s because the Government took away from councils the power to require higher BASIX standards. Here is the motion.
2. Notice of Motion on reporting on tree removals
Council has already committed to increasing tree canopy across the LGA from 18% to at least 25% by 2040, and currently implements a substantial tree planting program of 1,500 new trees every year on public land toward this target. However, there is no clear overview of the level of removal of trees on private land due to ongoing development. Pulling together the information on these tree removals will give Council a way to track overall progress toward our target, and respond to any issues that we find. Here is the motion.
Item 6 on the Council agenda: Planning Proposal – Parramatta Road Corridor Urban Transformation Strategy (Stage 1)
In addition, Council also considered a planning proposal to initiate approval of high density zoning in two precincts along Parramatta Road. The first precinct is Concord, on the north side of Parramatta Road, around the intersection with Burwood Road. The second precinct is Kings Bay, also on the north side of Parramatta Road, from Walker Street in the west nearly up to Courland Street on the east. (See the Council meeting agenda papers on the council website for more details.) The planning proposal implements the NSW Government’s Parramatta Road Urban Transformation Strategy (PRCUTS) – a substantial and detailed plan initiated by the government in 2016.
Councillor Jago spoke against the recommendations, and had previously circulated an amended set of recommendations to other councillors and staff. Ultimately, a modified version of the recommendations in the council agenda was passed by councillors. Councillors discussed two key issues:
The NSW Government included a commitment in the original proposal for the Parramatta Road Corridor Urban Transformation Strategy (PRCUTS) in 2016 regarding future development of schools. Councillor Jago raised this issue on the basis that plans for future schools must be in place before making major commitments to large new residential development of the scale proposed in these precincts.
Councillor Jago put the view that, while the government is building a new high school in Wentworth Point, Concord High School is still overloaded and will remain so for some time, with even more students in the medium-term. Canada Bay has insufficient high school places. At the very least, the NSW Government should identify a site for the future additional high school. Councillor Jago recommended that Council should commission its own study into future needs for schools in Canada Bay. The motion passed by councillors did not support these concerns, despite disquiet across the community on this issue over a long period of time.
As part of its original Parramatta Road Strategy documents, the NSW Government made two key commitments:
- Rapid transit on Parramatta Road: “Significant investment in public transport through the Parramatta Light Rail and Burwood to Sydney CBD On-Road Transit projects will unlock the development potential of the central and eastern portions of the Corridor… Transport for NSW is committed to delivering an on-street rapid transit system… The Parramatta Road Corridor on-street rapid transit route, from Burwood train station to the Sydney CBD, will service five of the Precincts along the Parramatta Road Corridor.” Delivery was planned to commence in 2019-20, in line with the opening of Westconnex M4 East. The documents mentioned options for the rapid transit system, including light rail or a system based on buses. This is clearly separate to the Sydney Metro West which would have a stop in the Concord precinct, but would not provide a service along Parramatta Road.
- “Prior to any rezoning commencing, a Precinct-wide traffic study and supporting modelling is required to be completed.” (The commitment was repeated for each precinct in PRCUTS). The government has not completed precinct-wide traffic studies but is nevertheless pressing ahead, despite making and repeating their promise on multiple occasions to complete these studies before any rezoning. The idea of preparing precinct strategies without the traffic studies ignores the possibility that major changes to the strategy may be required based on traffic issues.
Councillor Jago’s amendment recommended that Council call upon the Minister for planning to defer the deadline for approving precinct zoning, including an associated deadline which would have withdrawn important Council grants, until the traffic studies and his proposed study into future needs of schools in Canada Bay were completed. In addition, the Department of Planning is including the possibility of “spot rezoning” to enable developers to request zoning in small parts of the precinct, which would cause major chaos in planning decisions. This provision basically aims to coerce Council into rapidly accepting the NSW Government proposals. Councillor Jago’s amendment would also have included calling upon the Minister to withdraw this.
The amended recommendations passed by councillors simply included a request to the government for advice on future school plans and to withdraw the spot zoning rules, but without deferring approval of the overall proposal. However, Councillor Jago comments that, in his opinion, with council giving the government exactly what they wanted, there appears to be little likelihood that the NSW government would change its bullying behaviour.