CEN Comments - 28 July 2015
Gosford Council Item SF13 - Review of Environmental Zones and related issues
CEN opposes the recommendation as it currently stands on the basis that there is no strategic justification for Council to expand urban footprints or look at rezoning environmental lands for urban residential purposes.
Comments are in addition to those made regarding Item GOV 84 (14 July 2015).
Ïn terms of the recommendations:
A That Council prioritise the review of land zoned 7(c2) as part of the Urban Edge Study to determine the appropriate zoning of these lands, prior to their transition to the LEP, noting that the capacity of these lands needs to be assessed prior to the expiration of the window provided by the Department of Planning to resolve the bonus lot provisions.
Recommendation A does not read consistently with the report. It is in conflict with any attempts to fully realize the potential for bonus lot provisions of 7c(2) lands.
B Council undertake discussions with the Department of Planning to facilitate a flexible boundary clause for Environmental Lands within GLEP 2014.
Recommendation B should be deleted. To our knowledge the flexible boundary clause has only been used at the cost of the environment. Good planning and current mapping technology would suggest that a flexible boundary clause is not required.
C At the completion of A and post the results of the Urban Edge Study land zoned Conservation 7(a) zoned land would be zoned to E2 Environment Conservation and Conservation and any remaining Scenic Protection 7(c2) zoned land would be zoned to E3 Environmental Management.
We believe that Recommendation C should be deleted.
D Council continue to make representations to the Minister for Planning for a new E5 zone that would be appropriate to apply to land within the Coastal Open Space System.
CEN fully supports recommendation D and congratulates Council on continuing to place pressure of the State Government to come through with its commitment to introduce an additional Environmental Zone to protect the unique Coastal Open Space System (COSS) lands.
E Subsequent to completion of the above a planning proposal be prepared to amend the LEP and repeal Councils Interim Development Order and Gosford Planning Scheme.
Recommendation E should be deleted. There is no mention of the remaining 7 zones which are currently deferred. On page 124 of the report it states that
“[7(c3) lands are] … generally located in the hinterlands of Avoca Lake and Cochrone Lagoon at MacMasters Beach, Killcare Heights and at Kincumber...
It appears these environmentally sensitive lands are being lumped together into recommendation G - and the main emphasis of G is to identify future residential areas.
F Council undertake a series of consultation workshops with the Environment Committee, staff, residents and external experts to finalise a list of principles to define future urban investigation areas.
Recommendation F should be deleted as it does not consider one the key objective of Council’s adopted Biodiversity Strategy. That is - to focus development around existing urban centres to maintain the urban development in the existing urban footprint to protect agriculture land and environmental sensitive lands
G That following their finalisation Council requests the Chief Executive Officer to apply the following principles to the investigation areas identified in Attachment B and bring a report back to council that groups this land into the following tranches:
a.Suitable for rezoning* under current planning framework
b.Suitable for rezoning* subject to site specific development controls
c.Marginally suitable for rezoning* – may require further investigations/studies or exclusion areas
e.Unsuitable for rezoning*
* A zone reflective of urban development (i.e. Residential, etc.)
We believe that Recommendation G should be deleted. There is no justification to go down this path.
I That the following areas be excluded from the whole project
- All land west of the M1,
- Community land owned by Gosford City Council
- Crown Land
- Land that is existing or proposed COSS
Regarding Recommendation I – CEN again raises the question about why Council is including E1 - National Parks when Council has no authority to consider urban rethinking, renewal or redefining of National Parks and Nature Reserves, as they are gazetted by the State Government.
As a minimum, this list of exclusions should be expanded to include all E1 lands and all lands that contain habitat for Threatened Species or endangered ecological communities.
In summary, we understand that Council has argued that it is required to go through this process as a result of directions from the Department of Planning.
We do not believe that there is strong justification for the direction that Council wants to head in terms of rezoning environmental lands for urban and residential purposes. The Practice Note was distributed in 2009 at the time when Council was transferring Environmental Zones into the new LEP. There is nothing in the Practice note that encourages Council to rezone environmental lands for urban / residential purposes.
CEN also refers to the s117 Direction for Environmental Protection zones.
Direction 2.1 for Environment Protection Zones states that “A planning proposal that applies to land within an environment protection zone or land otherwise identified for environment protection purposes in a LEP must not reduce the environmental protection standards that apply to the land.”
Plus part (6) states that “A planning proposal may be inconsistent with the terms of this direction only if the relevant planning authority can satisfy [that a study has been undertaken to justify the inconsistency]”
As no strategic study has been undertaken to justify Council's decision in March 2015 considering the Inception Report of "Rethinking the Centre', "Renewal of the Urban Area" and Redefining the Urban Edges". The current resolutions of Council are inconsistent with the s 117 Direction not to reduce the environment protection standard that apply to land.
There is no strategic justification to go down this path – and we urge Councillors to abandon this move to rezone our environmental lands for urban and residential purposes