Planning practices ignore council strategies and plans
Do Council planning staff ever read their own documents?
For instance, the much-trumpeted Greener Places Strategy contains the following statement on page 20: "An investigation occurred as to changes in tree canopy cover and number of impervious surfaces at Woy Woy between 2005 and 2014.
"Over this time, canopy cover declined by 173 hectares, while the area of impervious surface increased by 84 hectares and unplantable space increased by 113 hectares.
"This effect may be difficult to counteract as the area of plantable space only increased by 24 hectares."
For some time now it's been recognised that the Peninsula is suffering from higher-than-average temperatures due to the "heat island" effect caused by loss of tree cover and growth in the area of impervious surfaces such as concrete and tarmac.
The quote above bemoans the fact that the area of impervious and unplantable surfaces is increasing at an alarming rate.
A rational person looking at this situation would have thought that council planners would have taken urgent and drastic action to reduce the growth in impervious surfaces and increase the areas of deep soil and landscaping required for new developments via planning instruments such as the Development Control Plan.
However they seem to have done the exact opposite.
The Plan has been "watered down" to such an extent that it is now acceptable for developers to build ever larger areas of concrete slab to "reduce maintenance" and increase "lock and leave" potential.
In any case, they say the Plan is "only a guide", so can be overruled if the planner considers that an undefined "better planning outcome" will be achieved by doing so.
A case in point is DA3276/2022, a proposed three-unit development at 135 Paton St.
The proposed concrete driveway at one point reaches six metres in width.
Including one open parking bay and bicycle parking, it totals 207 square metres of unshaded, impervious surface.
The developer also wants to build an access ramp on the nature strip that will add another 53 square metres of concrete and measure 11 metres in width at the roadway.
Is it really necessary for access to a private driveway to be 11 metres wide?
It's very hard to escape the conclusion that this is actually a bid to obtain semi-legal parking on the nature strip.
When it comes to private open space, this development does not comply.
This would seem ironic, given the huge area given over to cars.
The developer wants to locate Unit 1's open space on the front setback, a solution specifically prohibited in the Development Control Plan and Unit 2's open space would be undersized by 10.9 square metres.
The application contains a list of "opportunities" in the site analysis section.
At the top of that list is the entry: to "take advantage of the site's lack of environmental constraints (including significant trees)".
Environmental groups must despair when they see development applications like this.
It also makes a mockery of council efforts, like the "Greener Places Strategy", to educate the public to do their bit to improve the "heat island" situation.
The application is currently on public exhibition on the Central Coast Council website.
The date written submissions close is not supplied.
Email, 12 Nov 2022
Frank Wiffen, Woy Woy