In mid-2015, the then owner of 11-17 Mosbri Crescent began discussions with Newcastle City Council about the rezoning of the site of their Newcastle television studios.
The Local Planning Strategy (2015) estimates that approximately 39 extra dwellings will be needed in The Hill by 2031 (p. 153). The LPS also flags consideration of an R3 Medium Density zoning for the site (p. 60) and highlights Arcadia Park as a significant feature of the suburb.
Council records obtained through a GIPA process (previously Freedom of Information) show that initially, Council Officers were of the firm view that the site could only accommodate buildings that were a maximum of six storeys high. Council maintained this position until late 2017.
Prior to submitting the Planning Proposal (for the rezoning) to the Department of Planning for a Gateway determination, Council agreed to allow heights that would support development well above six storeys. The approved amendment to the Local Environment Plan (LEP) allows heights up to a maximum of RL56.8 (including lift overruns). This is variously described as seven storeys or eight storeys high. The way in which heights were presented during the rezoning process will be the subject of another post.
From the beginning, the majority of community members have been supportive of a medium density zoning for the site. What Council approved, however, is medium density is name only. We believe that the amendments to the LEP do not align with the R3 medium density objectives or R4 high density objectives.
The height and density controls that are set out in the amended LEP and the site-specific Development Control Plan (DCP) are well in excess of the standard controls for R3 medium density development. The standard controls for R3 medium density development are Height of Building (HOB) 10m and Floor Space Ratio (FSR) 09.:1. This would support up to around 50 dwellings on the site.
The approved controls are HOB up to RL56.8 (approximately 26m) and FSR 1.5:1. The rezoning referenced 171 dwellings. The DA at present proposes 172 dwellings. The six storeys originally recommended by Council, that became seven (or possibly eight) storeys in the rezoning, has been increased to nine storeys in the DA.
The DA currently under consideration (2019/00061) proposes three towers with 161 apartments and 11 townhouses, a total of 172 dwellings. The tallest tower is nine storeys high. The townhouses are (currently) two storeys high. And although the FSR for the DA comes in at just under 1.5:1, there is scope to add an additional storey on to the 11 townhouses, which will increase the FSR.
The reasoning behind Council’s initial recommendation of a six storey height limit will be outlined in upcoming posts, which will cover issues such as heritage considerations, Arcadia Park, height and density, traffic and accessibility, and will draw on documents obtained through the GIPA process. We will also examine the Planning for Bushfire Protection guidelines (2006) in relation to Asset Protection Zones.
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