It’s local Council Election time and sparks are already flying in Mosman, where Woolworths is in a multimillion fight with local planners over their proposed new Mosman store, now the “do it our way” Mosman Council wants greater control over how smart houses are being built or renovated in the North Shore municipality.
A planning obsessive Council whose track record in the land and environment court is not flash having recently lost two major cases in Avenue Road and Stanton Roads Mosman, the Council is now trying to rezone properties from R2 low density to E4 Environmental zoning, a move that has been described as “cynical” by Local Mayoral candidate Roy Bendall’.
It’s also been described as a move that will give Mosman planners, greater control and stop builders from using private certifiers to approve plans for a new properties.
The NSW Planning Department Reforms which Mosman Council do not want to apply in their locality, are now focused on a fast-tracked approval pathway for developments a move that will cost residents of Mosman millions of dollars in fees claims observers.
By keeping zoning at R2 low density, projects that meet strict construction and building standards, will get faster approval, as a submission can be approved by an accredited certifier instead of a Council planner.
Mosman Council does not want this because it takes planning power away from their control claims one person who recently had a major win in the Land & Environment Court up against Council planners.
The NSW Government claims that ‘These reforms support greater innovation by expanding complying development opportunities and better tailoring assessment processes based on risk and complexity. They will complement our other work to improve assessment timeframes and reduce project delays.
Mosman Council wants to move from R2 low density zoning to E4 Environmental zoning a move that is supported by current Mayor Carolyn Corrigan and will result in Mosman Council planners holding onto control of developments which in the past have proved costly for residents after a succession of losses in the Land and Environment Court by Mosman Council.
One angry resident claim that Mosman’s planning department is “costing ratepayers millions in legal fights that they keep losing in the Land & Environment Court”.
SmartHouse believes that the Councils legal budget has already been exceeded with the Woolworths case set to cost the Councils hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional costs if they do not settle before a hearing in the Land & Environment Court on the 26th of October 2021.
A Resident for Mosman spokesperson said, “Their latest move to fast-track a gateway application is a cynical attempt to progress the re-zoning of Mosman properties with little if any discussion among the rate payers of Mosman”.
“The re-zoning attempted which is supported by several Mosman Councillors will mean that almost every renovation will need a DA,” said Bendall.
The objectives of the NSW Planning Department is to speed up applications by taking decisions out of the hands of local Council planners.
“By taking certain planning decisions away from Mosman Council residents will save millions in fees” said a Residents For Mosman member.
Consultation with the community on the proposed changes that Mosman Council is suggesting will not take place till after the election in September 2021 claims Residents For Mosman in a circular distributed to Mosman households.
According to some residents they have had to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the land and environment fighting Mosman Council to simply get a home built “Mosman Council’s planning department are obsessed, with assessors often claiming that a design does not meet their vision of Mosman only for their views to be overturned at much expense to ratepayers and the applicants who are being hit twice” they said.
In a recent Hazouri v Mosman Municipal Council case in the NSW Land & Environment Court, relating to a property at 24 Stanton Road Mosman which attracted 24 objections from local residents, Peter Walsh a Commissioner in the NSW Land and Environment ruled in favour of the applicant approving the new construction with consent conditions after Mosman Council objected.
The house was designed by leading global architect Koichi Takada, who Council planners criticised for his design.
Zoned R2 Low Density Residential the Councils planning department claimed the house did not meet the needs of the community, they also claimed that the design they preferred, needed to retain the single dwelling character of the environmentally sensitive residential areas of Mosman and that the proposal was excessive in bulk and scale and the design would have an adverse impact on the streetscape.
They also rolled out what some residents claim is an all-too-common claim in their assessment reports when knocking back proposed construction plans that they are “Inconsistent with the desired future character of the area and will have adverse impacts on the streetscape”.
Commissioner Walsh not only approved the building of the new residence at 24 Stanton Road, but he also overruled the Councils objects relating to heigh, view and street parking to streetscape.
In regard to views Walsh said, “It is reasonable to expect some loss of privacy will occur in settings such as this where householders are seeking to maximise views.”.
One resident Jennifer Haig of 26 Stanton Road who has objected to several other new building in and around Stanton Road wrote in her submission about view loss “A fair estimate is that (She would lose) most of North Head, plus the 2 Manly ferries meeting and all the related water beneath them, would be blotted from (her view) if the proposal succeeds”.
Mosman Council has also objected to new houses having a garage claiming it impacts “street view”, preferring car ports at multimillion dollar properties instead, this is despite houses in the same street having a garage for more than 4 vehicles.
In one case Mosman planners recently objected to a garage one house away from a 100-metre fence of steel alongside a $19m mansion citing “streetscape” issues with the garage. The matter is heading to the Land & Environment Court.
In the recent case of 171 Avenue Road Mosman which ended up in the Land & Environment Court Council planners lost their case and cost the community additional parking spaces in a Council car park
Mosman HPG Mosman Projects had proposed an $8.9M development in a commercial area of Mosman that included handing over to the Council several additional parking spaces.
The Council objected to the development again citing that the design did not “comply with their vision of Mosman”.
The case went to the Land & Environment Court which ruled in favour of the developer who now has withdrawn the free car parking spaces because of the cost of fighting the case.