TRRA Submission Guide  13 September 2021

Main objection

TRRA submits that the proposed building is simply too high – exceeding the only recently agreed new height limits by nearly a third.

Submissions should be sent to council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au with DA 2021-703 in the subject line, by 21 September.

The proposal

This new proposal is for an 80 unit apartment building with a shop and café. While the new design has some attractive features, TRRA believes it is unacceptably high.  At 11 storeys, it reaches a maximum height of 36.157 metres, which is +8 metres = +29% over the new 8 storey height limit for the site adopted only last year after a lengthy and vigorous community debate.

Process

The DA is only on exhibition for 2 weeks, with submissions due by 21 September – send to council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au with DA 2021-703 in the subject line.

Council has agreed to accept submissions up until 28 September but only on individual request.

There are 15 documents online, but 5 key ones – the Statement of Environmental Effects (SoEE), a Visual impact assessment, a Variation to Development Standard (Clause 4.6) Report, and Architectural Plans. Regrettably, Council will remove most of the documents from the DA Tracker after 21 September – you can download them beforehand but beware large file sizes (Plans are 55MB).

Council has confirmed that this DA will go to Council for determination because it is for a variation >10% and so will not be decided by staff under delegated authority.  There is no need for it to be called up by 3 Councillors.

Key issue: Height variation

The proposed building is almost one-third higher than the new height limit for this site finalised less than a year ago.  The developer’s claim reported in the Examiner (9 September) that the height variation is only ‘approximately 10% over the height limit’ is incorrect.  Both the SoEE and the Variation Report include the following statement:

‘The site contains a prescribed maximum height of building of 28m. The highest point of the proposed development measures 36.157m above the natural ground level (top part of the ‘wing’ on the north-eastern corner), representing a 8.157m or 29% variation, requiring a variation request and associated assessment against Clause 4.6 of the PSLEP.’ (p26)

Council is required to assess this DA against the current Local Environmental Plan (LEP), which includes the recent new height limits for the site.  The applicant argues that it has approval for a building nearly the same height, but that was on a smaller site, and was assessed against the previous height limit, and the argument should carry little weight under planning law.

To justify an exception to the height limit, the applicant is required by planning law to show why compliance with the limit would be ‘unreasonable or unnecessary’. TRRA does not believe they have done so.

Community opinion

The previous approval for the Ascent Apartments was granted in the midst of a fierce community debate about height limits for the entire Nelson Bay Town Centre.  Hundreds of individual citizens made clear their opposition to Council’s proposals to allow buildings of 10 or more storeys throughout the town centre.  In the end, a compromise was reached with new height limits of 5 and 8 storeys, and these were confirmed in changes to the Local Environmental Plan less than 9 months ago.

Councillors spoke of the new height limits giving certainty to landowners to encourage investment. Approval of a building nearly one-third over the limit for this site would completely undermine this objective, and create a precedent – once again development in the town centre would become a lottery.

Conclusion

TRRA has consistently welcomed the prospect of any developer prepared to invest in the town within the applicable rules.  We would particularly welcome a good new development to replace the unsightly hole on this vacant site that has blighted the town for too long.

But we do not welcome defiance of Council’s clearly expressed new rules for development in the town centre.  Granting a variation from standards such as building height limits amounts to a free gift of extra value to landowners and/or developers.  It should not be done lightly.

In this case, TRRA submits that the applicant should be asked to reduce the height of the building so that it complies with the recently adopted limits and meets community expectations. There is no evidence that a building that complies with the height limit could not be commercially viable.

Council staff and Councillors should follow through on their commitment to the Nelson Bay Strategy, as implemented in the recent amendments to the Local Environmental Plan, and refuse this DA, unless the design is changed to comply with height limit.

To discuss TRRA’s position on this DA, please contact us at planning@trra.com.au   or 0407 230 342

13 September 2021

Download Submission guide – Click Here

Press Release – Click Here

Bigger, bulkier and higher still – is this the future for Nelson Bay?

A new DA has been lodged for the ‘crane’ site on Church St, Nelson Bay, on exhibition until 21 September. Council will accept submissions up to 28 September but only if you ask before 21/9 – see email address below.

The proposal is for an 80 unit 11 storey apartment building, the first 2 levels being carparking below the level of the Church St footpath.  The sloping site (down to the north and east) results in a height of at least 33m above ground level, with a maximum height of 36 metres. This is 8 metres or 29% over the new 8 storey height limit for the site adopted only last year after a lengthy and vigorous community debate.  The report in the Examiner this week that it is only 10% higher is incorrect.

This image is taken from the application documents, which are available online until 21/9 at http://datracker.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/Application/ApplicationDetails/016-2021-00000703-001/

We encourage you to have your say about this proposal, which you can do by emailing Council at council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au with DA 2021-703 in the subject line.

Background: This is a new proposal for the combined site 11-15 Church St.  The controversial approval of the Ascent Apartments in 2017 was for the smaller site 11-13 Church St. That approval was for an 8 storey apartment building which would have had a maximum height of 32 metres, which was more than twice the 5 storey height limit that applied at the time.

Proposed Helicopter Base at Anna Bay

TRRA is aware of considerable community concern about a proposal to establish helicopter landing base with 4 pads and 2 hangars at the rear of the Ampol service station and car wash at 4136 Nelson Bay Rd Anna Bay, very close to the Anna Bay Lawn Cemetery. Up to 70 flight movements a day are proposed, between 8am and 6pm 7 days a week.

Details of the DA 2021-387 are online at

http://datracker.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/Application/ApplicationDetails/016-2021-00000387-001/

Try to get any submission in by Tuesday 6th July 2021 but if necessary you can request an extension of time.

Full Document  – Click Here

Final TRRA Submission – Click Here

DA 2020-242, 7 level, 62 unit apartment building 118A Soldiers Point Rd. – TRRA Submission

We have objected to a new DA for a vertical 7 storey apartment building behind the Soldiers Point Bowling Club – a proposed replacement for the already approved final stages of the Greenside development, which were to be a series of lower buildings tiered up the slope.  See our detailed submission Click Here

This is our conclusion:

TRRA submits that the proposed development is simply too high (and ‘blocky’) to be compatible with the character of the surrounding area.  Council should not approve a re-design of the approved development simply because the applicant has encountered geo-technical constraints.  The re-design cannot in our view reasonably be considered an improvement on the approved design, and it fails to comply with a significant number of applicable planning controls.

The DA should be refused.


High rise proposal for Soldiers Point – submission guide

DA 2020-242, 7 level, 62 unit apartment building 118A Soldiers Point RdKey points for submissions, due by 5pm Monday 23 February 2021.

The proposal is to replace an approved design for four lower apartment blocks with a single higher (7 level – 25 metre) building at the front (east) of the site, with 11 fewer units overall. The existing approval is for four separate buildings with a maximum height of 8 metres above ground level (the ones to the rear of the site would appear higher when viewed from some directions as the ground level slopes).  The footprint and site coverage of the approved buildings would be much greater and the landscaped area much smaller.

Full Guide – Click here

DA 2020-830 – 8 Central Avenue, Salamander Bay (LOT 7 DP: 1239352) – Objection

TRRA has particular concerns about the implications of this development for pedestrian safety and amenity on the public pathway immediately to the north. We are also very concerned about the absence of any opportunity for public input on the precursor approval for the proposed industrial building which will house this specific use.

Full Submission Click Here

Fingal Bay Link Road

Submission to Transport for NSW 11 December 2020

TRRA believes that there are some major threshold analyses and considerations which need
to be addressed before firm commitments are made on routes. Additionally a business case, including a cost/benefit analysis is essential to evaluate the various options. This should clearly define the objectives of the Link Road, having regard for the nature of the communities it would serve and impact upon.

Full Submission – Click Here

EXCEPTIONS TO DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS POLICY

TRRA has reminded Council of the weakness of its ‘variation’ policy which allows for exceptions from development standards including height limits, throughout Port Stephens.  Council used this LEP clause in 2016 and 2019 to approve two apartment buildings in Nelson Bay that were double the then height limit (we have yet to see any sign of the promised investment).  Our submission asks Council to respond to the many criticisms we first made in 2018, which they largely ignored.

Full Submission – Click here

Next stages of Nelson Bay Road Duplication

TRRA has made a submission on the route options for the next stages of Nelson Bay Road duplication between Williamtown to Bobs Farm.  The State government has introduced a third option of a completely new road across the low lying farmland north of the Stockton Bight dunes. Our main interest is in the traffic implications, including for the increasing volumes of heavy sand trucks, but there are other environmental pros and cons of the different routes – see the submission – Click Here

Port Stephens Council WASTE MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCE RECOVERY
POLICY – File Reference PSC2007-3163

Our bottom line is that the Policy is nowhere near ambitions or broad enough and needs a lot more work.  We have expressly called for further consideration of a separate green waste collection, including its relationship to the current mixed waste processing plant at Raymond Terrace, which was innovative when introduced 20 years ago but has encountered problems with its composting output and may not be the best solution.

Full Submission – Click Here

Information and Direction Signs on Road
Reserves Policy

In 2020 we have identified as a high priority the need to improve the visual
standards and general presentation of the Gateway to the Tomaree Peninsula.
Central to this is the control and management of the various approach roads to
our area such as Nelson Bay Road. We have commenced detailed discussions
with Planning Officers on the initiative.

Full Submission – Click Here

Letter to Council about tree removal in Nelson Bay CBD

An immediate issue has arisen in relation to two trees outside the Seabreeze Hotel in Stockton St which have recently had barriers placed around them, but the issue is wider, having come up many times before, including in 2018 in relation to trees further south on Stockton St which were removed at short notice with inadequate consultation.

Full letter – Click here

Council allows 8 and 12 Storeys in Nelson Bay

Press Release – Click here

The content of the two submissions below each raises the issue of transparency in council processes. Although these are quite detailed documents we recommend your taking the time to review them.

Submission on Council Policy: Development Applications to be reported to
Council – Click Here

Submission onSmart Parking – Fees and Charges Amendment – Click Here

PORT STEPHENS GATEWAY EXCELLENCE – PROJECT BRIEF

Project Mandate

To remediate the roadway entrance to Port Stephens for it to reflect the current Destination
Port Stephens marketing strategy as ‘Incredible by Nature’. This entails presenting a visual
impression along the road entry to Port Stephens as the premier regional NSW Tourism
destination.

Full Document – Click Here

Port Stephens Council Tree Management

As you are aware, TRRA, EcoNetwork Port Stephens and many other environment groups in Port Stephens have had serious concerns for a long time about Council’s tree management policy and related compliance monitoring and enforcement.
We briefly discussed these issues in our Zoom meeting with you on 8 September and promised to follow up with our concerns in writing. This letter does so, and we would welcome the opportunity to further discuss our ongoing concerns which relate to clearing on both private and public land.
The letter details our overall concerns, while the Attachment contains 3 case studies of recent clearing on public land.

Full Text – Click Here

Proposed ‘housekeeping’ amendments to the Port Stephens Local Environmental
Plan 2013 (LEP)

https://www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/trim/other?RecordNumber=21%2F226534

We note that only 10 of the 13 proposed amendments were initially listed in the summary of the changes on thewebsite – this has subsequently been rectified.
It is also disappointing that the material on exhibition does not include a ‘tracked changes’ version of the LEP clearlyshowing all the proposed changes. This omission makes it very difficult for the public to fully understand theproposal and consider the implications of the changes.
As indicated on the website, most of the proposed amendments are of a technical nature designed to address minoradministrative matters, and are uncontroversial.

There are however a few amendments that have more substantive effect and on which we make the followingcomments.

Full Text – Click Here

We have no objection to this submission being made public in full and unredacted.

Draft Strategic Plan for Crown land in NSW

TRRA has made a detailed submission on a draft Strategic Plan for Crown land in NSW.  While an overall Plan is welcome, and it contains many welcome principles and objectives, we fear that will be used as a smokescreen and excuse for increased commercialisation of public land. The contribution of Crown land to environmental protection is constantly under threat.  We have made several suggestions for changes, including an emphasis on greater transparency and accountability, using the Port Stephens Council Holiday Parks as examples of how not to manage Crown land in the public interest.

Full Submission – Click Here

The Future of Nelson Bay

TRRA has made a comprehensive submission to Council objecting to the proposed increases in building heights and floor space ratio limits in the Nelson Bay Town Centre – Click Here (Be aware if printing it is 17 pages). The submission goes into a lot of detail – the key points which we encourage others to make in their own submissions remain those in the Submission Guide that has been available – Click Here for some time.  Submissions needed to be made by 5pm on Friday 14 August.

Last chance to object to high-rise in Nelson Bay Centre

Council is exhibiting proposed changes to the planning instruments (LEP and DCP) that are required to give final effect to the increased height limits and other changes adopted back in late 2018.

Most of the changes are positive and will help advance those aspects of the Nelson Bay Strategy that have broad support in the community.  BUT we think the height and floor space ratio (FSR) changes are a threat to the character of the town.

We call on everyone concerned about this to object and to remind Council that they are forcing these changes through against the clear wishes of the local community, repeatedly expressed over many years.

We have prepared this submission guide, suggesting some key points you may wish to include in a submission to Council, which needed to be received by 14th August. (Previously 30th July).

Full Submission Guide – Click Here

Port Stephens Council Tree Management – Draft changes to Development Control Plan (DCP)

The statement in the report to the 23 June 2020 Council meeting: ‘There are no policy changes proposed …’ is misleading. Council’s proposed introduction of a ‘self-certification’ regime, without input from a qualified arborist, as the means of implementing a 2017 State Government Vegetation policy[1], does in practice mean a significant (and undesirable) change to the Tree Management provisions.

In our view, the draft amendments:

  • make tree removal easier, increasing the risk of removal for inappropriate reasons
  • do not adequately support the objective of the 2017 State Government Policy – to preserve and protect trees
  • weaken Council’s ability to perform its legislated role under the 2017 Policy

Full Guide – Click Here

Full TRRA Submission – Click Here

[1] State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP)

Port Stephens Council – Draft Climate Change Policy

Welcome, if long overdue (Council has flagged need since at least 2009)

On Exhibition July 2020 – submissions by 5pm 24 July to council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au
Reference PSC2012-01402

For Policy – Click Here

Submission Guide from TRRA, EcoNetwork, and Climate Action PS

For Details – Click Here

Submission from TRRAClick Here

Improving the visual amenity of the approach to the Tomaree peninsula

TRRA has put a detailed proposal to Council for improving the visual amenity of the approach to the Tomaree peninsula along Nelson Bay Road. Click here Council staff have offered a meeting to discuss our ideas.

Nelson Bay Photographs Click Here

Nelson Bay height limits – an update

The Dept of Planning has issued its long awaited ‘Gateway Determination’ on PS Council’s Planning Proposal to amend the PS LEP 2013 to implement the Nelson Bay Town Centre ‘Delivery Program’[1] adopted by Council in September 2018.  Council submitted the Proposal in April 2019 – the Determination is dated 17 March 2020.  These processes work slowly!

The proposal involves changes to the height controls (major increases) and new controls on Floor Space ratios (FSR) and on activated and minimum street frontages.  The LEP has to be changed to make these new/amended controls ‘official’ although Council has already approved two DAs for major apartment buildings in the town centre that are double the current height limit.

TRRA made detailed submissions to the Dept of Planning about what we saw as the shortcomings and procedural failures in the Review of the Nelson Bay Strategy.  We are pleased that the Dept appears[2] to have recognised many of these weaknesses, and is now requiring Council to undertake substantial new work to support the proposal before it will be permitted to go on Exhibition, and has given an 18 month period in light of the amount of work required.  This means that we are unlikely to see LEP amendments on exhibition much before mid 2021.  As Council elections have been deferred due to the pandemic, this is likely to mean that it will be a new Council that finally decides if these changes go ahead unchanged.

We particularly welcome the following conditions: Council will need to:

  • submit a comprehensive ‘Urban design analysis’ that justifies the changes, includes a visual impact analysis, and demonstrates how the proposals will meet various requirements, most of which confirm that the Dept is sceptical about how well the proposal does so.  They appear particularly critical of the lack of information about the effect of higher buildings on views, local character, overshadowing etc. (our main concerns)
  • advertise related changes to the DCP alongside the LEP amendments
  • make public a summary of community consultation to date

On the downside, the Determination confirms Council as the plan-making authority for these LEP changes once all the conditions are satisfied – that means it will be our Councillors, rather than an independent panel, that makes the final decision. Also, no public hearing required (but it will have to come back to a Council meeting at which anyone can request ‘public access’).

We are also disappointed that the Determination has declined to accept our threshold argument that the Delivery Program height limit changes are fundamentally inconsistent with the objectives of the Strategy, and has also assessed the Proposal as consistent with State and Local planning instruments in a number of other respects which we had challenged.

The Report does not comment on the fact that two DAs for apartment buildings twice the current height limit have been approved in the last 4 years but neither has gone ahead, somewhat undermining Council’s main argument that increased heights is necessary to attract new developments. This will be one of our main submissions in due course.

Overall, this is very good news for those of us who believe Council’s obsession with increased heights is misguided and against the public interest. It is not yet a ‘done deal’.

[1] In full, the Progressing the Nelson Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy – a revised Implementation and Delivery Program.

[2] As well as the Conditions it has imposed, the Dept also issued a 27 page report detailing a number of ways in which the current Proposal was not considered adequate. See http://leptracking.planning.nsw.gov.au/proposaldetails.php?rid=6069

Community Vision for the Future of Tomaree Headland, Shoal Bay, Port Stephens

TRRA Inc has been working with a consortium of community, business and environmental groups, “ Friends of Tomaree Headland”  to develop a prospectus for the future of this iconic site once its current use comes to an end in 2020. A copy of the prospectus and a covering Press Release Follow.

In reacting to the Friends’ prospectus, the member for Port Stephens Kate Washington and the Liberal candidate for Port Stephens Jaimie Abbott both announced on 4 February commitments to retain the site of Tomaree Lodge in public ownership and to consult with the community on its future use.

Harvey Norman DA at Taylors Beach

Harvey Norman are proposing a major development at Taylors Beach to include their own large store, another servo, fast food outlet and 19 other industrial lots. While much of the site is already cleared (illegally over a decade ago) the proposal will clear even more vegetation including 28 koala feed trees.

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We urge concerned individuals to make a submission by Friday 31 January – see Link or just email council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au with ‘DA 2019-815 – Objection’ in the subject line. Key grounds for objection are loss of further fauna habitat, stormwater drainage issues, traffic generation and loss of visual amenity. We believe that in the context of climate change, bushfires and existential threat to our koala population, Council needs to re-think its approach to approving major developments even on land already zoned for business use.


Resort at 58 Gan-Gan Rd, Anna Bay

There is a current DA for a 247 unit resort at 58 Gan-Gan Rd, Anna Bay, next to the currently derelict ‘Birubi Beach Resort’ site. Council has only advertised the DA for the minimum required exhibition period and submissions were due by 7 November 2019.  A meeting at the site was arranged by the South Tomaree Community Association for 10am Friday 1 November which was attended by State MP Kate Washington.

Full Details Click Here

TRRA’s objection document – Click Here


Fingal Link Road – let us know what you think.

The State Government has committed $188 million to the construction of a Fingal Link Road, and the RMS is currently in the planning stage before consulting publicly.  TRRA thinks it is important for the community to consider both the rationale for such a road and the pros and cons of alternative routes.  We invite comment on our discussion paper Click Here.  We will collate feedback and provide it to the RMS and Council as input to their planning process.

‘Have Your Say’ : Click Here

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1 Yacaaba Street up for Sale

For details – Click here


Council fails the community on Nelson Bay High-rise

We are sad to report that Council has approved the 9-storey apartment building at 1 Yacaaba St, by a vote of 9 to 1, against the recommendation of its own planners, and ignoring the clear weight of opposition to high rise development in the town centre.  We are particularly disappointed in our three East Ward Councillors – Dunkley, Nell and Abbott, who all voted for a last minute motion, with less than half an hour’s notice, from Mayor Palmer to approve the controversial proposal. Our thanks go to Cllr Arnott who alone opposed approval but was denied even the opportunity to move the published recommended motion to refuse.

Unfortunately there is no merits appeal option and while we think there are strong grounds to question the process that has led to the approval, a judicial review appeal is beyond our means. We can see three possible scenarios now. The development may go ahead and successfully sell to permanent residents, in which case there may at least be some benefit to compensate for the sacrifice of the town’s character. More likely is eventual completion but with sales mainly to investors, and a majority of units unoccupied for most of the year – the same sacrifice but with little long term benefit. A third scenario is for the site to remain undeveloped, like the one at Church Street approved in 2017. The threat of further tower blocks which would obscure views could well ruin the commercial prospects and sterilise the revitalisation prospects of the town.

TRRA believes that Council has now missed the opportunity to set a clear vision for the town that respects its unique geography and character. We remain strongly of the view that sensible new height limits, such as the modest increases agreed back in 2012, together with all the other aspects of the Nelson Bay Strategy which have broad support, could have attracted investment to revitalise the town. Instead, Council has voted to allow a more than doubling of the height limits across large areas of the town centre. Given the uncertainty this will create, landowners will now be trapped by a toxic mix of fear and greed, likely to result in a continued moratorium on new development.

There will be one last opportunity to challenge Council’s flawed vision, when the proposed new height limits adopted in September 2018 are put on exhibition as changes to the Local Environmental Plan later this year.  But with 9 of our 10 elected representatives having made their position clear, a challenge is not likely to succeed.  We should perhaps look instead to the September 2020 Council election at which Councillors will be held to account for their decisions.

TRRA’s Committee is considering what further action the community could take, including strong representations to the Minister for Planning on the flawed process followed by Council over the last few years and the implications of their approvals of major height variations for the character of the town. It is clear that there is a major backlash against overdevelopment throughout NSW, and even the pro-development State government is having second thoughts about its support for high rise development in many areas.

This image (from the DA) demonstrates the visual impact, by reference to the existing buildings to north and south.

TRRA’s July Submission – Click Here

November Submission – Click Here

More – Click Here


Sandmines in Port Stephens
Lot 424 Halifax Holiday Park.
Lagoons Estate Story
2017 Port Stephens Council Elections Page
Council Mergers/Amalgamations Page
I.C.A.C. Archive

TRRA PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT 2018/19 – 14 October 2019

The Report presented by President, Geoff Washington, to the TRRA Annual General Meeting on 15 October, 2018 is available – Click Here.  This includes a Planning Committe report for 2018/19.

AGM Minutes  Click Here

All TRRA General Meeting dates for 2019 – Click Here

Dates for 2020 – Click Here

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