Your Councillors had this to say – July 28, 2014

TRANSCRIPT

Kogarah City Council Regular Meeting

Monday, July 28, 2014

Present: Cr Stephen Agius (Mayor), Cr Nick Katris, Cr Lachlan McLean, Cr Michael Platt, Cr Annie Tang (Deputy Mayor), Cr Sam Stratikopolous, Cr Kathryn Landsberry, Cr Nathaniel Smith, Cr George Katsabaris, Cr Nick Aroney, and Cr Jacinta Petroni.

In Attendance: Paul Woods (General Manager), Evan Hutchings (Director Governance & Corporate Services), Rod Logan (Director Planning & Environmental Services), Andrew Sharp (Director Assets & Services), Vanessa Smith (Governance Officer), and Lynne Denham (Minute Secretary).

An apology was received on behalf of Cr Nickolas Varvaris.  Resolved: (Katsabaris/Smith) That the apology be accepted and leave of absence granted.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Item B, Disclosures of Interest

J1. Draft Planning Proposal – Amendment No.2 of Kogarah Local Environment Plan 2012

Mayor Cr Agius:  We have 10 disclosures for item J1 which are special disclosures of pecuniary interests …  Cr Nathaniel Smith, myself Cr Stephen Agius, Cr Jacinta Petroni, Cr George Katsabaris, Cr Sam Stratikopolous, Cr Nick Aroney, Cr Lachlan McLean, Cr Michael Platt, Cr Annie Tang, Cr Nick Katris.  Do I have a mover for those special disclosures Councillors? Moved by Cr Katsabaris, seconded by Cr Katris; I declare it carried.

Mayor Cr Agius:  We will move into Item C, the Adjournment for Public Forum.  If I could have a mover for that. Resolved: (Katris/Landsberry) I declare it carried.

(Transcriptions follow only for Item J1 in the Public Forum speeches)

Mayor Cr Agius:  We have two speakers speaking tonight on the draft planning proposal.  If I could call on Mr Petar Atanasov who is a resident and is speaking against this proposal.

Petar Atanasov:  Good evening everyone.  My name is Petar Atanasov and I have spoken here before regarding the draft amendment.  It was meant to go through.  It didn’t go through because the community stood against the Council amendment.

Now we have got here a proposed draft LEP and before anything Mr Mayor, if you can clarify under item J1 the disclosed interest of 10 Councillors.  Are they going to vote under that J1 item or not?

Mayor Cr Agius:  For your information they will be voting tonight as the special disclosures of interest.  Yes they will be.

Petar Atanasov:  OK so even though they have a special interest they are going to vote on it.  All right, now I didn’t plan to talk tonight but I have to say a few things.

First of all I made to ask this question has a traffic impact report been prepared to support this draft LEP amendment, yes or no, please?

Mayor Cr Agius:  This is a public forum.  I have answered your first question to be polite.  There will be no further questions.

Petar Atanasov: OK that is OK, then I will say to the public, Lindfield Council conducted in April, a traffic impact report to support their draft LEP amendments.  Without that nothing can be done because it will tell everyone that lives in Kogarah Municipality, the traffic, the congestion, and everything that happens when you increase the number of population.  Without that, the LEP cannot be supported.

That is all I have to say, thank you.

Mayor Cr Agius:  I would also like to call on Maria Fokas, who is a local resident and will be speaking against the proposal as well.

Maria Fokas:  Thank you.  On the zoning, that appears to me it was for block 4 from Blake Street to English Street, Kogarah.

That is why my submission concentrated only on a small area, that I gave it on this, this morning.  Nevertheless and as I am aware that its owner the Minister for Planning is to give the final approval for the re-zonings I request my submission should also go to the Minister for Planning.

Residents have signed petitions repeatedly in the past and have given their say, the area of Kogarah to be built by 3 to 4 floors, garages to be underground.  As we have in Kogarah area major developments such as the Hospitals and the St George Bank head office, that are traffic generating developments, area zoning to permit more levels than the ones permitted up to now in the Kogarah area would be inappropriate, and strongly we are opposed to this re-zoning.

A survey I have done in the past confirms that people that work in Kogarah, they are not prepared to sell and move closer to their work place.

We request the area around Kogarah including Ocean Street and up to English Street both sides, to be excluded from these plans.  Thank you.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Councillors, could I have a mover to resume to Standing Orders. Resolved: (Katris/McLean)  I declare it carried.

(Development Assessment Reports … not transcribed.)

Item J1. Reports from Officers

Subject:  Draft Planning Proposal – Amendment No. 2 of Kogarah Local Environment Plan 2012.

Author:  Rod Logan – Director Planning and Environmental Services (RV)

Reason for Report:  To review a draft Planning Proposal to make amendments to Kogarah Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2012 prior to submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment seeking approval for exhibition.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Moved by Cr Platt, seconded by Cr Stratakopoulos. Cr Platt would you like to talk to the recommendation.

Cr Platt:

1  I think I should Mr Mayor because it is one of the most important recommendations that will come before Council this year, and I would like to move that the recommendations a) to e) but I will read out, so I am moving a) to e), but I will read out a) and b) which I think are at the heart of the recommendations –

a)  That the recommendations and amendments as included in the body of the report and associated Annexures attached to the report be incorporated into a draft Planning Proposal to amend Kogarah Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2012 in accordance with the provisions of Section 55 of the Environmental Planning and Assessments Act 1979, as amended.

and

b) That the draft Planning Proposal be submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment to issue a Gateway determination under Section 56 that would allow Council to proceed to public exhibition and formal government agency consultation.

2  And I think it is very important Mr Mayor that our residents understand what this recommendation means. And what it means solely and only at this point in time, that the sole purpose of the recommendation is to send the draft proposal to amend, and it is a draft proposal, to amend the Kogarah Local Environmental Plan 2012 to the Department of Planning seeking their approval for exhibition to the community, because that it is how it works. The State Government have set the rules and regulations. Council is behoven (sic) to prepare a draft local environmental plan.

3  That is then sent to the Government or the Department of Planning, who review it, potentially make amendments, make suggestions and then, if they support that draft or, offer other suggestions, it then comes back to Council and Council will then begin a very lengthy process of community consultation.

4  That is how the Council has to operate.  So that is what is going to happen at this time. If it is going to be supported by Council the draft proposal goes in to the Department of Planning.  They then review it, potentially make changes, potentially say no it is good enough now to go out to the community.

5  It goes out to the community for what I would think would be quite a lengthy process of engagement between the Council, the Councillors, the staff, and the community that we represent.

6  And also all the documents sent to the Department are now available online on the Council’s web site for everyone to review.  And the draft and I think I will just articulate a couple of the reasons in my view that we come to this point in time.

7  The draft has been prepared in response to the need to find additional housing opportunities and choice in Kogarah, as it is in the rest of Sydney.  These options will be put before the community for their review and comment following the Department’s review and approval to exhibit.

8  So the aim of the plan is to meet the State Government’s estimated growth in population for Kogarah of 17,400 residents.  So that is another, in the Government’s opinion, another nearly 17,500 residents want to live in our wonderful community.

9  We want to be able to provide them the housing choice that they deserve as well as our long term residents.  And this proposal goes all the way back to 2009 when Council first developed the community’s strategic plan in this room with our community.  Now I will quote from the report that was back in 2009 , “the community strategic plan identified the need for the Council to provide diverse sustainable adaptable and affordable housing throughout the city.  Issues such as housing choice availability and access to public transport and services were all identified by this group as key factors in facilitating positive housing outcomes for current and future residents, and a range of housing options outlined in the proposal is to be presented to the community following presentations to the State Government in its review”.

10  Just briefly Mr Mayor, I will just paraphrase, I do not want to take too much time.  The City of Kogarah is with most of Australia, like me, it is an ageing population.  The residents who currently live in Kogarah have identified the fact they want to stay in Kogarah.  They want to stay where they have raised families, where they have lived, where their GP is, where their chemist is, where their parks are, where their families are, they want to be able to stay there, but they can’t at the moment because we haven’t provided the housing choices for them.

11  I had a talk with Council this afternoon, and said well if I want to move from my home I will have to move out of the area because there is not a unit, there is not a place I can move to.  That is what we have got to provide, we have to make these choices available for our community and for those that want to come in there.

12  There would be nothing worse than our elderly citizens who have lived here making Kogarah what it is not being able to stay here in their declining years, and that is what it is about.

13  Some waterfront areas around Tom Ugly’s Bridge, Princes Highway, Railway Parade, will have buildings of 5 to 7 storeys in the proposal.  That is what it is currently looking at.  It is intended that all these unit blocks will be serviced with lift access to provide accessible units not just for the aged and disabled, but for young families providing a choice of housing in terms of size and location.

14  Facilitating this is public transport and efficient utilisation of existing and future infrastructure is the key to planning for increased residential development.  It goes on to talk about and you can see it in your mind’s eye at the moment or if you walk through or drive through Kogarah all of the developments occur around transport nodes.  On busy highways like the Princes Highway, and Rocky Point Road, near Allawah, near Carlton, near Kogarah, and that is logical that is where the development is going to be, not in the centre of the community, but in the outskirts where the buses and the trains are to get people to and from work, to get them to school, to get them to activities, to all of those sort of things and what we have to realise and the figure here in Sydney the strategy of the State Government has stated, has set a target of at least 545,000 new dwellings across Sydney.  I repeat 545,000.

15  We have to play our part.  Of course we want to work and go with the community and that is the whole purpose of tonight.  We have put a lot of hard yards into developing the proposal.  It will then go to the Government, it comes back, then we go out and engage with the community.

16  No one should ring me and say you have done this behind closed doors and that you’ve done this and done that.  We haven’t, it is a draft proposal, it is all on the internet now for everyone to see and I welcome phone calls and discussion about this because it is very important.  The whole purpose is to provide choice for those who live here now and those that want to come into our beautiful community.

17  And lastly I would just like to thank our Director, Rod Logan and his team for the fantastic job they have done has taken a lot of external, out of hours work.  It is a very logical, very tactical plan, that is all for the community and of course there will be discussions one way or the other, and I welcome that.

18  And I would also like to congratulate my other Councillors for their input into this process.  Now, if this is supported by the Council we are going to the Government they will look at it and then it comes back for community consultation.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Thank you Cr Platt.  Are there any speakers against?

Cr McLean:

19  Thank you Mr Mayor. As Cr Platt said this is a very important motion to consider.

20  I am voting against it because I don’t support the significant changes in the draft planning proposal.  The proposal is an extreme over development of North Ward and I refer to three key examples that will anger residents and will ultimately detract from our lifestyle.

21  Firstly, the change to allow buildings of up to 11 storeys, or 33 metres in peaceful residential streets such as Palmerston Street, Victor Street and Victoria Street.

22  Secondly, the changes will allow buildings of 39 metres on Railway Parade backing onto Bellevue Street in Kogarah, and therefore the Kogarah South Heritage Conservation Area.

23  Thirdly, the change to allow buildings of 21 metres or up to 7 levels on the Princes Highway backing onto John Street in Kogarah Bay and Wyuna Street in Beverley Park.

24  Like many elected councillors in the St George district I have campaigned on opposing over development and I am not going to help facilitate that over development by voting for this proposal to go to the Department of Planning and Environment.

25  Of course some people will say let it go to the Department and then let the residents have their say, but it does not take a genius to figure that so many North Ward residents will be outraged by a number of these changes, and I don’t want to put them through the stress of having to justify why 11, 12 or maybe 13 storeys shouldn’t happen next door to them.

26  I am not saying that everything in the proposal was a negative.  Some residents will certainly support the removal of restrictions on dual occupancy, and naturally as Cr Platt said there is pressure on the Council from the State Liberal Government to provide extra dwellings and I respect the efforts that the Council staff have put into this proposal.

27  However I don’t feel the proposal strikes the right balance and that it won’t provide residents with a better lifestyle.  I think it is all very well to speak about the needs of future generations but there is no evidence that the necessary infrastructure is in place to support these changes.

28  Our roads will be gridlocked and will struggle to cope with the future population growth that these changes bring.

29  I fear that if nothing changes with this proposal it will unfortunately it is a case of Hurstville comes to Kogarah, or perhaps Chatswood comes to Kogarah.  That is something that I do not want to endorse.  I am here to represent the residents and nobody else.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Thank you Cr McLean.  Are there any speakers for?

Cr Stratikopolous:

30  Thank you Mr Mayor.  Whilst I am relatively new to the business of Council I see this issue as being critical for our community.  For my generation and our younger residents the cost and availability of housing is a very important matter.  Councillors and staff have been considering how this issue should be dealt with for some time.

31  The range of housing options that are in this draft plan provide a good start to bring this matter up for discussion with our community. I can propose changes that will provide some flexibility and some housing choices that we currently don’t have.

32  Even so, there could be other options that we can develop throughout this process.  As such, as mentioned earlier, I support the motion so that those discussions with our community can now begin. Thank you.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Are there any speakers against?  Are there any speakers for?

Cr Katris:

33  I am not going to add too much to the debate at this point in time Mr Mayor, because I think that all the speakers have clearly articulated the main issues regarding the LEP and the draft changes in the planning proposals going to go to the State Government.

34  I take on board what Cr Platt, my colleague has said, he has clearly articulated the whole proposal and what the residents are going to be presented with and I understand Cr McLean’s issues with regard to certain areas of North Ward, but Councillors let us not forget it is a plan not just for one part, it is a plan for the whole of the local government area of Kogarah, and to vote against the whole plan because you disagree with one part of it, is I think inappropriate.

35  Now I appreciate there are concerns there, I am not saying there are not. I am just saying you don’t vote against the whole plan because you are concerned about one basic area.

36  Now the reason I am supporting this recommendation is not possibly so much because
I agree on each and every item that is presented to us in the plan. The reason behind that is because we, we have been charged with the responsibility by the State Government to identify areas where there could be increased housing choice and increased employment possibilities. It is not just housing choice of course, it also has got to do with employment with regards to providing more mixed residential commercial development etc., etc.

37  Consider the averse to that, consider the situation where we plan to do nothing or we plan to do some sort of, I suppose non-event with regards to a planning proposal. Consider that we have been given targets as Cr Platt quite rightly said, that we had to meet under the Sydney Metropolitan Strategy, and we don’t meet them at all or we meet 10% of those targets.

38  What do you think the State Government is going to do when faced with the dilemma of trying to house our population? How far are we going to go with not allowing development to take place, not allowing increased density in the appropriate areas, and let’s be quite clear about this.

39 We have some very very talented staff who have actually looked at the issues. Rod Logan and his strategic planners have looked at it and they have been looking at not just overnight to tick the boxes, and said right lets colour this bit pink, colour this blue, lets colour this that.

40  They have carried out a local environmental study. A local environmental study that as Cr Platt clearly articulated involves where to locate the increased densities with regards to traffic generation, public transport, infrastructure, etc., etc., and yes we may be short on infrastructure. That is something that the State Government will have to come to terms with but what is important is that we are now presented with a proposal that we have to consider not so much that we agree with the whole proposal as such as to where the density is going to go, is it good enough to send off to the State Government? Is it good enough to send off to the Department of Planning so that the Department of Planning can say listen you have got it wrong, or you have got it right, or it needs amendments here or there?

41  Well that is all we are really considering and once it goes to the Department of Planning and then it comes back to Council with amendments or either request us to actually change the plan.

42  Now we have a responsibility to give our people a voice, not to pre-empt what they are going to say, yes I understand the development, increased densities, higher densities, taller towers are an anathema to the people that live in the local area because they do have an impact and they will have an impact on the people that currently live in that local area, but, having said that, what is more important to us is that our residents get a voice to come back to us and tell us yes it is inappropriate, or yes we agree with it, because by telling them we think on your behalf as to what you’ve been thinking I think that it is totally wrong. Yes we can pre-empt they are going to be upset but we are also charged with the responsibility to ensure that one, the impact that that development is going to have on that resident, with the need to provide increased densities so that we can house the population, we are charged with that responsibility where we have got to come to a reasonable balance between over development or development, and the need to provide the public with choice.

43  Councillors did you read in your report there is an estimated 17,400 people who are going to seek residence in Kogarah? Basically because they love to live in the area, but we have got to protect that area with regards to the impact on our local environment to ensure they keep loving to live in the area, but then, they keep loving to live in the area, but then we have got to make sure that we provide the housing choice for them.

44  The other issues raised by Cr Platt especially are very important. The ageing population. Yes I am one of those that has to move out of my area, have to move out of where all of my family live, all my extended family, because there is not one unit, not one within 5 kilometres radius of where I live.

45  One unit, the only one is down at the Seabreeze Apartments that is all there is. Now what are you telling us, the old people, the mature age people, that want to get rid of these big houses and want to live in a unit because we can’t handle them any more.

46  Are you telling us I have got to move out of the area? That is what you are telling us. All the younger generation that is going to be paying by the end of 2020, a million dollars for a two bedroom unit. Don’t worry you are not going to get a house. Will you be able to afford one? Having said that, yes we are going to have to provide that balance. You also said that, I am not going to pre-empt how our community is going to say.

47  I am going to wait until they actually voice their concerns to me and to you, and bring it all back here so that we can discuss what we are going to do, how we are going to make sure that the amenities are protected, and the diversity of housing choice is provided.

48  What we are voting for is getting it clear to send the whole package to the Department of Planning for clarification, for endorsement if possible, or for amendment and then that whole, as Cr Platt quite rightly said, that whole stakeholders engaging our community is going to take place. It is not just going to go for a month, or for two months, it is going to go longer than that, and we are going to receive submissions, and I welcome every one of those submissions from the community.

49  Now I will, I guarantee, and I am sure every one around this table will take into consideration. This is not a fait accompli, so let it go, let it go to the Department of Planning, let it go to public exhibition, and let the residents do what they have to do and that is voice their opinions on this matter, on such an important subject.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Thank you Cr Katris.  Any speakers against?  Any speakers for?

Cr Landsberry:

50  There may be one or two people in this room who see me speaking in support of this particular report, but I have to say that I am torn about which position to take on this and there are many things that I don’t support but I am looking at it from the bigger picture and echo my colleagues words that it does need this draft and it does need to go to the Department for their consideration and primarily the reason why I want to progress it forward through the Department so that we can bring it back to our residents and hear what they think.

51  Because ultimately all of us who are sitting around this horse shoe table are here to represent the interests of our residents. I don’t think we need to be considering it too much further than that now, I know that there are a few people in the gallery here tonight who are concerned about this process.

52  It has to be transparent and we have been considering it in confidencial meetings for the past few months and I think that has probably whipped up some concerns in the community.

53  I personally have problems with a few of the things not permissible to say here but it is obvious to say that some of the proposals in North Ward I have grave concerns about.

54  Plant Street, about that I have spoken about that before, and some of the proposals in my own Ward in Blakehurst on the Highway down there I have some real concerns about.

55  But it is not up to me to entirely make those decisions, I think it is up to us as Councillors to communicate with our community, unfortunately this is a process that the Department have set, we need to follow it, we need to send it to them first before we can put it out to our community to see what they think and as long as we are not just going to pay them lip service, which I am quite sure we won’t, and I am quite sure our residents won’t let us just do that.

56  I just want to highlight something in the report in paragraph 7 which was …

“The Strategic Plan recognises that housing is not just about a physical roof over our heads – it is about lifestyle and wellbeing and creating and maintaining the better lifestyle our residents value in the City of Kogarah.”

57  To me that is the whole crux of this particular proposal and we need to make sure that we do have a certain amount of control over that so that we don’t have proposals to ask constantly that we have issue in North Ward on a few occasions that have approval at a certain number of densities or levels and six or twelve months later, the developer comes back and wants another couple of storeys.

58  Well you know I spoke here in this chamber saying that to me really causes me great concern that they come back and get more.

59  One of the things that Cr Katris pointed out quite some time ago is once it is in the LEP they can’t do that if it is in a particular zoning of R3 then they can’t come back for a zoning that would be approved in R4.

60  Those are the sort of things that once that is set in our LEP that gives them certainty. I think that it is a long way down the track. As I said I sort of struggle with what position to take on this because I do have concerns with quite a few of the proposals that are in there but I am still trying to focus on that in the bigger picture and we do need to take control of this place and now progress it forward through the Department, bring it back to our residents so we can hear what our residents say.

61  All of us we are here because of the residents who have supported us to represent their views that is our job. I am sure that some people will have some concerns about it and again I invite them to contact me and let me know because they certainly have in the past. If anybody has any concerns about this proposal I think that they will find as they go through it, and Cr Platt highlighted in the beginning of the first couple of paragraphs, that it is a draft and together it is agreed in the chamber tonight and that is important.

62  We are not adopting anything tonight, we are not endorsing anything tonight. What we are doing is we are progressing a draft proposal which is our planning department has carefully constructed to address some of the needs we might have to be considering down the track in Kogarah. That is why I am supporting this tonight.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Thank you Cr Landsberry.  Are there any speakers against the proposal?  Any speakers for?  Cr Platt do you want to provide a reply?

Cr Platt:

63  I congratulate Cr Landsberry because I know that she, and I am sure other Councillors, have issues but as an intellect to realise we can’t do anything about this until it actually goes to the Department.

64  Because it is very easy in my view for Cr McLean who has been pretty silent all the way through the months and months of work that we put into this to say well I am going to vote against it. But if you vote against it, what do we do? Where do we go? We are going nowhere,

65  It is like a full back standing on the 10 metre line the ball is coming down but I am not going to do anything, walk away. That is exactly what it is doing, putting your head in the sand unfortunately. But, of course that doesn’t come up at our meetings, that comes up when the press is here so that on the front page of the Leader, oh, I voted against this and I voted against that, comes up.

66  But what is doesn’t say is that this Council is moving forward and is again for those who don’t understand, it is a draft proposal. It is something that a Council has to do as imposed by the State Government, and as Cr Katris pointed out it is for the whole community not just for a particular one or two roads, and that is the whole idea it goes in there, it comes there we gave it to the community and if the community there says well that is too close, that is too high, that is too this.

67  And not all decisions will be agreed to by the community, nor the Council I am sure, but that is the start of the process. We have to start the process. Build on the process that started back in 2009 when our community said we want housing choice, we want the housing near railways, we want it near the highway, that is where they want it, that is where we need it.

68  What we don’t need in Kogarah is stagnation. What we need in Kogarah is growth.

69  What we don’t need in Kogarah is for the people to move out because they haven’t got the choice.  What we need in Kogarah is to provide that choice.

70  What that choice will be we will not know until this time next year, because we have gone through the discussion, all the way through, but to right at the very beginning to say no, I am not going to play, shows in my view a total misrepresentation of the residents you purport to represent, but also the whole process.

71  Everyone has put a lot of hours, a lot of discussion, a lot of hard work into this and it means to go forward.  If we don’t go forward the State Government will say what is Kogarah Council doing, we will move in and tell them what they are going to have.

72  Then what will the residents say?  They won’t be too happy.  At least we have eleven articulate Councillors around the table who can put the argument sensibly, logically, and realistically, to the community.  I am very proud of that.  I won’t always agree, and people won’t agree with me but that is part of the democratic process.

73  To say no against to a draft going forward is to go against the democratic process, in my opinion.  It is very easy, it is very headline grabbing but it doesn’t get us anywhere, it doesn’t move us forward.

Mayor Cr Agius:  Thank you Councillors.  All those in favour of the motion if you could please raise your hand: Cr Katris, Cr Platt, Cr Tang, Cr Stratikopoulis, Cr Landsberry, Cr Smith, Cr Katsabaris, Cr Aroney, Cr Petroni and Cr Agius.  All those against the motion: Cr McLean.  I declare the motion carried.

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