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Cherrybrook Faces Overdevelopment Around Metro Precinct

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Hornsby Shire Council has effectively given the NSW Government carte blanche to lead the rezoning of land for major development around the Cherrybrook Metro Station Precinct.

This is despite Council recently finding a slew of issues in two key Government documents in the Cherrybrook Station Precinct Place Strategy; and the Cherrybrook Station State Significant Precinct (SSP) Planning Proposal.

At its Council meeting on 14th September, Hornsby Councillors unanimously voted to forward two submissions from Council’s Planning and Compliance Division to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to advocate for a more detailed analysis of issues and refinement of the proposals for the Cherrybrook Station Precinct.

This follows The Department’s recent exhibition of three plans for the Cherrybrook Station Precinct – the SSP Planning Proposal; the Place Strategy; and amendments to the Planning Systems State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP).

The SSP Planning Proposal is seeking to re-zone Government-owned land adjoining the Cherrybrook Metro Station to facilitate a mixed-use precinct with local retail, community facilities, public space and new dwellings.

The Place Strategy provides a 20-year vision for the private land surrounding the station precinct, including recommendations on the future development controls and a schedule of the required infrastructure to service the anticipated population growth.

The amendments to the Planning Systems SEPP are seeking to list the Cherrybrook Station government land as a State Significant Development (SSD) site.

The Department of Planning and Environment had outlined three options for progressing the Cherrybrook Station Precinct Place Strategy, these being:

Option 1: The state to lead the rezoning of both Council areas.

Option 2: Each Council to prepare their own planning proposals to implement the rezoning.

Option 3: Individual planning proposals to be brought forward by landowners.

In its submission to the Department, Council said “subject to resolution of the issues” it had outlined, a precinctwide rezoning undertaken by the State Government (Option 1) would circumvent a piecemeal approach and facilitate orderly planning and development.

Council said it would result in a clear and consolidated transition for the precinct and a cross-boundary holistic solution to infrastructure contributions, while also alleviating the funding, resourcing and administrative issues for Council.

However, not all Councillors were on board with this decision, with Hornsby Greens Councillor Emma Heyde (pictured above) seeking an amendment on the night, for “each Council to prepare their own planning proposals to implement the rezoning”.

Ms Heyde’s amendment was not supported, with Council handing over the re-zoning of the land to the NSW Government, a move which has incensed many locals.

“Council must control this development because that’s the only way residents get a say,” Ms Heyde told the Dooral Roundup.

“The State Government wants to maximise the yield from the site to pay for the Metro. That’s the way they operate, they have a certain target that they are working to in terms of their budget,” she added.

Former Hornsby Shire Council Deputy Mayor and Councillor Vince del Gallego (pictured on page 8), a long-time Cherrybrook resident, said Council’s decision to hand over rezoning control to the Government showed Council had run away from its responsibilities.

Mr del Gallego, one of the speakers about this issue at the Council meeting, said it was an “injustice” and that it would lead to “overdevelopment, and maximise profit with minimal infrastructure”.

“High density development of 3,200 dwellings, approximately 10,000 new residents within the Cherrybrook precinct is bad planning,” he said.

“The beautiful leafy suburbs of West Pennant Hills and Cherrybrook will be destroyed. Residents’ quality of life severely impacted by further congestion to road networks, overcrowded playing fields and stressed public amenities.”

Mr del Gallego – an Independent Councillor whose slogan was “Residents Before Politics” – said Council had run away from its responsibility to “protect our suburbs and residents’ quality of life”.

In its correspondence to the Department, Council wrote about a number of issues “having implications for Cherrybrook residents” – these include boundary interface issues, built form controls, open space network, design excellence, sustainability and affordability provisions, traffic and transport, implementation and funding.

Council said it supported in principle the concept of development close to the Metro but that a number of issues need to be resolved prior to finalisation.

Among its concerns, Council said the Government had not considered wider traffic network issues which “are likely to be exacerbated by growth within the Cherrybrook Precinct. For example, the potential cumulative traffic impacts further along New Line Road may be significant, given Cherrybrook Station is the closest Metro station for many rural areas to the north”.

Another area of concern was building height – the proposed maximum building heights of 18.5m to 20.5m were “inconsistent with a 5-storey built form”.

Councillor Emma Heyde said she was not surprised that the plans showed an increase in building height and “there is no certainty that you won’t get 8 or 10 storeys with the State Government”.

“They leave ambiguity and uncertainty and loopholes deliberately, so that they give themselves some wiggle room and they give developers wiggle room,” she said.

Although Council has outlined all of its issues with the Department, it does not have a decision-making role in the determination of the SSP or the Place Strategy, leaving the Government open to move forward with its own plans.

Ms Heyde said she believed if there was “big enough backlash”, the NSW Government could backflip, particularly with a looming election in 2023.

“Because there is a state election campaign in March, this NSW Liberal government will be listening to residents like never before. They remember what happened to their tin-eared colleagues in Canberra at the May election.”

“So, this is the perfect time for Hornsby Council and the community to demand a development that’s actually worthy of being located in Cherrybrook.”

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