Councillors support unrestricted building heights

On Monday night (May 25th), Councillors sealed the fate of future planning in Northbridge with their majority decision to allow the increase in height of the AW Edwards Building from 14 metres to 18.845 metres. Despite the views expressed in the latest edition of “The 202”, our three Ward Councillors united with the Mayor to serve Northbridge a veritable backhander.

The Northbridge Town Centre Masterplan, as developed by the community, set the foundation for future planning and development standards with the aim “of enhancing the character and amenity of the precinct”. Amongst other things, the Masterplan called for a maximum building height of 14 metres to its uppermost point of a building’s lift-well – if it has one.

The Masterplan’s height stipulation was to be enforced so as to eventually create

“consistent building heights that protect the amenity and provide sunlight access to both the public and private domain.”

Councillors argued that the Masterplan and legislative controls only applied to new builds. Regardless of their intention, our Councillors have now undermined the development controls and our suburb’s amenity.

All but one Willoughby Councillor enthusiastically approved the AW Edward Building’s new height of 18.845metres, despite the 14metre height directive stipulated in the Masterplan.

NPA President, Rob Coote, said

“Council’s efforts to ignore the intent of the Northbridge Town Centre Masterplan and, therefore, sabotage any efforts to control height restrictions within Northbridge, was reprehensible”.

The precedent set here is not site-specific. Mr Coote said that

“The rules needed to be applied consistently. Council has demonstrated inconsistency in upholding their development controls and regional Masterplans and this has created reason and opportunity for their previous decisions throughout the City of Willoughby to be more readily overruled by higher planning authorities”.

NPA members’ reactions after hearing the Councillors’ decision relating to A W Edwards:

“It seems that the applicant is primarily getting what they want based on reasons entirely irrelevant to the problems that are posed”.

“The rules must be applied consistently to all”.

“We all have to comply with Council DCPs and Master plans. Why don’t they?”

Councillors decision now opens the door to further increases in building height and over-development and the potential denigration of our suburb.

Northbridge residents are called upon to express their opinion.