Residents in Pennant Hills have described Hornsby Council’s decision to consider development at 3-7 City View Road as “devastating”.
Plans for the former Masters/Woolworths site include development of six storey residential apartments, seniors housing, cafes, and open community space.
Resident Rebecca Stalenberg said Council’s handling of the development proposal was flawed and that locals were not given ample time and opportunity to present their concerns.
The planning proposal was placed on preliminary exhibition from 14 April to 4 May 2022 – during school holidays, the Anzac Day public holiday and a teacher’s strike, which Ms Stalenberg said placed restrictions and time constraints on residents.
Ms Stalenberg said she wrote to Council seeking an extension to allow for further discussion and community feedback but the request fell on deaf ears.
She ended up lodging her objection on the evening of 4 May. Council said 11 submissions had been received during the exhibition process, these raising concerns with traffic, access and character.
She said Council’s communication to residents was “totally inadequate”. “And I voiced my concerns quite strongly, and I feel that I haven’t been heard.”
Residents surrounding the small pocket around City View Road are objecting to increased traffic (which they say is already gridlocked by Pennant Hills Road); risks to pedestrians; increased noise and rubbish. Further it would go from being a three-storey building to six stories which “exceeds the current Blue Gum tree coverage… despite its claim is keeping within the height of the trees”; and overall that the development will take away the “family community” feeling of the area.
“Such a big density building is something that is better suited to inner Sydney. If this is allowed, the area will become like the high rises we now see daily in the ‘Thornleigh Train corridor’,” Ms Stalenberg said.
“When looking at the plans, you can see that “play equipment” and garden “tiers” are proposed with picnic tables and the like, this will increase a lot of pedestrian traffic (not to mention waste) and noise to the area interfering with the local resident’s quiet enjoyment of their property,” she said.
“This triangle should be preserved, not made into a playground or entertainment triangle. It is an integral part of the last bit of the Blue Gum Forest and there already is a community park located at the main Pennant Hills precinct. The area cannot support any more traffic or density limits. This significantly impacts the activity and access of the local residents.”
Hornsby Shire Councillor Monika Ball, a long-time resident of Pennant Hills, said “that part of Pennant Hills Road was in disconnect” with the rest of the area and that this was an opportunity to both beautify and fix this.
Clr Ball, the Hornsby Greens candidate for Ward B, and her fellow Councillors all voted unanimously at Council’s meeting on 13 July to progress the proposal to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a Gateway determination.
“I think there’s two sides to it. There’s a vacant block there that’s not utilised, it’s in disarray. And we did get briefed on the sort of structure that was being proposed and there was a lot of community amenity incorporated into the design. And we saw examples of this particular developer and how they’ve re-engaged different sites, like in Summer Hill in the inner west, where the old flour mills, they’ve redesigned that,” Clr Ball said.
“They seem to be very empathetic and considerate in their design approach and there were community facilities incorporated.”
Clr Ball said she understood the residents concern about extra traffic but that there was room for improvement and negotiation as part of the community consultation process should the Gateway Consideration be granted by the State Government.
The Gateway process is administered by the Department of Planning and Environment. It provides a checkpoint for planning proposals before resources are committed to carrying out investigative research, preparatory work and consultation with agencies and the community.
But for resident Rebecca Stalenberg and her young family, this development would only be of detriment to the area.
“I moved to Pennant Hills because I wanted to get out of the city and the noise and grime, because it was family and community orientated,” Ms Stalenberg said.