When Channel Nine approached Newcastle City Council in early 2016 about rezoning their site at 11-17 Mosbri Crescent, Council’s strong advice was that an overall height of approximately six storeys could be accommodated within the site. What happened next?
The internal memo – 4805323 Memo – Urban Design Consultative Group_Feb2016 meeting – 11-17 Mosbri Cr The Hill Planning Proposal_Redacted – from Council dated 3 February 2016 is worth a read as it sets out the original Council position. It notes that the standard R3 medium zone controls are Floor Space Ratio (FSR) 0.9:1 and Height of Building (HOB) 10m. These controls would have allowed around 40 or so dwellings on the site (a lot less than the proposed 172).
The memo of February 2016 acknowledges the site’s “bowl-like topography” but the Officers highlight the importance of a range of factors, including the neighbourhood vision and objectives, heritage values, and the need for buildings to sit comfortably below the ridge lines.
The Department of Planning Press Release from March 2018 – A new era for the NBN site in Newcastle – announces that “A maximum building height of seven storeys will now apply to this area which steps down to three to four storeys fronting Mosbri Crescent.” More storeys than six but less than nine.
The current Local Environment Plan (LEP) as amended, allows an FSR of 1.5:1 and RL56.8 (which translates to an HOB of around 28m), and is accompanied by a site specific – Development Control Plan (DCP).
DA2019/00061 looks nothing like the DCP.
So how did we get from Council advice that there should be a maximum of six storeys, to DA2019/00061, which proposes a tower of nine storeys, and comes with a Clause 4.6 variation request for even greater height than the LEP permits? And a scheme that looks nothing like the DCP?
This was an R3 spot rezoning on steroids. So why should it be considered “unreasonable and/or unnecessary” for DA2019/00061 to comply with the LEP with respect to height?