A lot of work has obviously gone into the Draft Plan and the GSC is to be commended for the result in a very compressed timeframe. The NPA supports the notion of a 20-year integrated plan with a 40-year vision for Sydney, and endorses the GSC’s actions in coordinating the assembly of the work of various Government agencies and LGAs into a comprehensive single document, rather than an assortment of unrelated and often conflicting scenarios.

Although the reasons for the tight timetable are acknowledged and understood, it is an unfortunate fact that such tight timings often lead to suboptimal community responses as there was insufficient time for proper dissemination of the details of the Plan across the wider community – indeed there are still many residents who understand neither the magnitude nor the intent of these long term planning horizons.

Infrastructure – Public Transport

There is a lot of emphasis on the need to improve transportation systems across both the North District and the Greater Sydney area. That need is acknowledged and endorsed, but the emphasis appears to be almost entirely on improved road systems, whereas one of the keys to improved public transport is to ensure rail systems are spread across a wider network. An area sadly lacking in rail access is the Northern Beaches: with a 40-year planning horizon why wouldn’t we include railway lines into at least some of the Northern Beaches hubs, together with appropriate East-West connections? For example: a line should be installed between Chatswood and Brookvale, then on to Mona Vale, and finally from Mona Vale to Hornsby via Terrey Hills. Through prudent surface routing and tunnelling, land resumption can be minimised. The recent announcement by the NSW Government of the Western Harbour Tunnel and Northern Beaches Link Road is welcome, but the continued focus and reliance on expanded road systems is not the answer.

Appropriate transport infrastructure is also required to the Western Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek, with multi-lane roads and full service rail lines linking the area to the rest of Sydney, especially the Penrith, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Camden areas. These links need to be planned and agreed now, as deferring such considerations only adds to the complexity, frustration and cost at a later stage.

Provision of the above contributes to the Plan’s objective of enabling a greater number of metropolitan jobs within 30 minutes of residents’ homes. The goal is applauded and endorsed, but without robust, high capacity transportation systems (especially rail) this goal will not be attained.

Residential vs Industrial/Commercial Development

Much mention is made in the draft Plan of the need for additional housing, to accommodate the forecast increase in population. The accuracy or otherwise of these forecasts is not the main issue here – it is generally agreed that there will be continuing pressure for additional housing across Greater Sydney. What must be stopped is the removal of existing commercial and industrial areas through rezoning and conversion to high rise residential as these areas are employment generators and providers of urban services, which if removed will never return, to the detriment of the local communities they serve.

The Plan also needs to properly address the need for genuine housing choice, rather than an oversupply of high-rise blocks of units. A range of townhouses, villas and terraces should also be in the offering to provide downsizing opportunities, whilst the protection of local conservation areas such as the Naremburn Conservation areas, with their rich assortment of Federation cottages, is mandatory. Developers are steadily increasing pressure for Council approval to construct medium-to-high density unit blocks with numerous technical non-compliances adjacent to local heritage conservation areas, so local Councils require higher level support to resist these proposals.

Further to this, appropriate affordable housing levels need to be set and achieved. A level of 15% would be well regarded.

Infrastructure – Health, Schooling, Child Care

The provision of appropriate support infrastructure such as hospital and medical care, primary and secondary schools and childcare services must also be factored into the Plan. The North District already suffers from some of the worst schools overcrowding, such that pupils are being rostered for playground access. This is totally unacceptable in any longer term plan, but “vertical schools“ are not the answer. District Plans need to address these critical shortfalls, with recent successes such as Cammeraygal and Anzac Park to be used as templates, but with concurrent activity in acquiring adjacent properties in other areas and then amalgamating the Titles.

The same goes for childcare. Appropriate planning and development control is required in both existing suburbia and new settlements to meet existing demand and future population projections. Local Councils need to ensure that current development proposals meet all DCPs and LEPs, whilst newer areas need space identified and reserved for the centres.

Planning for major new hospitals (such as the Northern Beaches hospital) will occur at the highest levels, but ancillary medical, testing and healthcare services also need adequate planning at a stage where space is still available and set up costs are not prohibitive.

Need for preservation of Green Space

One of the attractive features of the North Shore is its relative abundance of Green Space and Recreational Areas, covering playgrounds, parks, walkways and natural bushland. This feature needs to be preserved for generations to come and further improved, not offered as a potential route for proposed motorways. As a very recent example, the Artarmon Bowling Club transferred its grounds to Willoughby Council at a generous discount on the condition that the area be preserved for community recreation, so it is with great concern that we learnt the adjacent community green spaces may be the preferred route for a section of the Northern Beaches Link Road interchange with the Warringah Freeway.

Finally, completion of the Sydney Metro offers some exciting prospects for large scale commuter movement by public transport. It also offers some opportunities for greater parkland/green space – several stations will be constructed via “cut & cover” techniques, providing airspace above the covered stations, whilst residual land will also be available at Chatswood and Sydenham following completion of tunnel boring. These spaces should become part of an expanded green space program, as any commercial or residential development approved will mean that opportunity will be permanently lost.

This submission is made on behalf of the Naremburn Progress Association (NPA), and is in response to the Draft for Consultation issued by Willoughby City Council (WCC) regarding the Local Centre of Naremburn.

WCC and its consultant, Architectus, are to be commended for providing some context and initial considerations for the commencement of these consultations, and we look forward to further involvement as discussions progress.

NPA seeks to lay down a number of guiding principles which will in turn drive required outcomes in any redevelopment of the Naremburn Local Centre. These are:

  1. Preservation of village character and ambience
    The Consultation draft has already noted the great village character and relaxed atmosphere that users of the Naremburn shopping strip enjoy. Whether it be sharing a meal or chatting over a coffee it is an ideal spot to spend some time, and its location means that commuters find it a convenient place to stop, as well as local residents. This relaxed atmosphere must be preserved, so multi-storey developments which only breed isolation and wind tunnels must be strenuously resisted.
  2. Expansion of service offering to public through wider range of stores
    Whilst the service offering from the current shops in Naremburn is appreciated, the strip has suffered for many years because of the loss of shops through successive incursions of freeways, motorways and upgrades of major arterial roads. Residents used to enjoy the services of a hardware store, butcher, convenience store, medical centre and post office to name but a few, and whilst the quality offering of the various food outlets is appreciated, residents miss the ability to drop in to a convenience store for a loaf of bread, milk or a newspaper, or grab a packet of screws from Wes at the hardware shop. The longer term viability of such a narrow service offering may become an issue, so spreading that offering over a wider range of goods and services would improve the situation.
  3. Building heights minimised (3 storey max)
    As its name suggests, the Naremburn Progress Association is supportive of progress through development of existing/provision of new buildings and infrastructure. However that development needs to be sustainable and in keeping with the character of the area. Naremburn has not been subjected to the high-rise, high-density monoliths of St Leonards and some other nearby locations, nor do we want them as they do not exhibit the charm and warmth of the current Local Centres. That said, current zoning would support 3-storey development along most of the shopping strip, which would in turn facilitate shop top housing and provision of updated ground floor shopfronts but still maintain the relaxed ambience of the strip.
  4. No further loss of shop numbers
    The previous loss of shopfronts through Main Roads redevelopment has already been noted in 2), but this item 4) now looks at what effect any redevelopment may have on shop numbers, as any further reductions would only increase the likelihood of closure/collapse of the remaining businesses, or make it more difficult for incoming businesses to trade profitably in the face of high rents and reduced foot traffic. It is noted that the Naremburn shops are currently zoned B1 Neighbourhood Centre, which permits business premises, childcare centres, community facilities, medical centres, neighbourhood shops, restaurants and cafes, shop top housing and takeaway food and drink premises. Whilst acknowledging this covers a wide range of commercial activities, care should be exercised to ensure any future development approval does not further reduce the service offering to the users of the Naremburn Local Centre.
  5. Ease of use and access (parking and pedestrian walkways)
    Ease of parking for users of the various food and coffee outlets at Naremburn has been an issue for some time. Parking spaces are limited, so forced rotation has been required to share the time/spaces available across the many users. The situation could be improved through the redevelopment of poorly utilised space behind the shops for the provision of additional parking spaces, whilst also opening the possibility of additional green space and wider pedestrian walkways.
  6. Preservation of Local Conservation Areas
    Naremburn residents enjoy the privilege of two Local Conservation Areas, and are deeply protective of the architecture, amenity and sense of community engendered by these areas. Whilst neither LCA directly abuts the Naremburn Local Centre area, the Central Township is immediately the other side of the Gore Hill freeway so any redevelopment should not adversely impinge on the residents in that Central St/Slade St area. Whilst not as a result of any Local Centre redevelopment, the difficulty in identifying a satisfactory transition from medium density developments to low rise residential is already in evidence down in the Henry Lane/Chandos St area.
  7. Preservation of Local Heritage shopfronts
    There are only two Local Heritage listed items in the Centre: 284 & 284A Willoughby Road, and 272-276 Willoughby Road. Given the relative lack of Heritage items, every effort should be made to maintain and preserve the facades when considering shopfront upgrade/redevelopment.

This list is not exhaustive, but represents some of the key considerations when determining any future redevelopment of the Naremburn Local Centre. A number of these may be common to other Local Centres in the WCC area, but Naremburn has been so deeply affected by freeway construction and the like in the past, that it is arguably the worst affected of the Centres.

This response to the subject plan is from the Naremburn Progress Association (NPA), which is a community organization representing approximately 6000 residents of Naremburn. Many of its members are residents living in or near the Naremburn Conservation Area (NCA), adjacent to St. Leonards station, and hence continue to feel the impact of the uncoordinated development that has been and continues to be built in the area.

One of the potentially positive spinoffs that would have arisen from any recent Council amalgamations was for a single Local Government Authority to be responsible for a coordinated, seamless and sustainable approach to development across this identified Priority Precinct. Whilst this single Council scenario is no longer an option, the opportunity for seamless development and timely provision of necessary infrastructure still remains, so it is absolutely imperative that any local Council Master Plan is in step with higher level plans such as the GSC’s North District Plan, and also seamlessly transitions from one Local Government area to another, whilst at all times maintaining the innate and often unique character of the area.So it is with deep disappointment that we read of Lane Cove Council's plan for an additional 2400 units which will almost double the current population of Greenwich - this is an old plan that benefits developers and disadvantages residents. Since this developer driven plan was first presented the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) has drafted a coordinated vision for St. Leonards which focuses on liveability, productivity and sustainability. It is outrageous that this Council should pursue a plan that will undermine this overall vision and diminish the opportunity for a vibrant area to emerge with the growth of a diverse residential/commercial St. Leonards/Crows Nest. Seamless transition over Local Council boundaries should be the aim, not giant step changes in building heights, lack of green space and basic infrastructure such as schools – where will the children living in these developments go to school?

For residents near St. Leonards station this misguided plan impacts on us in many negative ways. Longer traffic queues, overcrowded trains and buses, lack of parking, poor pedestrian access, already overcrowded schools, and lack of appropriate green space for active and passive pursuits are issues not addressed, and will be the result if not properly planned and factored into any development. It is not too late to step back and rethink these proposals to properly factor in the necessary utilities. Rather, the essential first step before any increased density is to plan for such utilities and services - this opportunity exists with the St. Leonards/Crows Nest Priority Precinct plan. In stark contrast, the St. Leonards South Masterplan with its 2400 units is in addition to the 2000 residents planned for the new high density development across from St. Leonards station, construction of which has already commenced, but existing infrastructure has not yet been impacted by the arrival of the additional residents.The Masterplan does nothing to add capacity to existing infrastructure. A few small parks, a multi-purpose facility, 2 new paths and a road will not be of significant benefit to the extra thousands of residents proposed for St. Leonards South.

The proposed 2400 new units is not required by the NSW Government as Lane Cove Council has already met its housing targets. There is no imperative for this poor planning proposal to be pursued prior to the St. Leonards/Crows Nest Priority Precinct plan being finalised. The Council needs to focus on development in the heart of its area, not on destroying a great place to live for residents on the fringe of three council areas.

Ultimately, Council should scrap the St. Leonards South Masterplan and work with the Greater Sydney Commission and adjoining Councils to provide seamless development and appropriate infrastructure across the area.