Regional Development Application – RA17/1000
Island Point Road (Anson St), ST Georges Basin - Lots 1 & 6 - DP 1082382 - DP 1082382

Following below (in blue) is text of letter sent by Basin Villages Forum, to Shoalhaven City Council, 28th August 2020
Dear Mr Dunshea

RE: Concept Masterplan Application - Amended Plan. RA17/1000 Anson St, St Georges Basin

The Basin Villages Forum is a Community Consultative Body that represents the interests of the residents of the villages of St Georges Basin, Basin View, Sanctuary Point, Old Erowal Bay and Erowal Bay, a great many of whom object strongly to this proposed over-development of the Anson Street site in a small South Coast village.

In excess of 300 written submissions have been made to Shoalhaven Council by people objecting to the applicant’s development proposals for this site and many more have attended Forum meetings to voice their disapproval.

Members of the Basin Villages Forum maintain that the following objections to the Amended Concept Masterplan need to be taken into consideration by the Land and Environment Court and represent grounds for the application to be rejected.

Minimal Changes
The amendments to the concept masterplan for Lots 22 to 29, DP 1082382, Anson Street, St Georges Basin in reality address only one of the several issue that concern the community. The amended plan now reflects the Shoalhaven City Council’s variation to the LEP which reduced the allowable height of building from 13m to 8.5m. However, it does not address problems with character, bulk, scale, density, social effects or the impact on local infrastructure.

It also does not speak to the matter of feasibility, presenting an option that the applicants own consultants stated was not financially viable (see RA17/1000 Documents - D17/101368 Economic Assessment – Opteon Report page 1). There are currently no apartments in St Georges Basin and there is no reliable data supporting a demand for this type of dwelling. A development that is destined to fail is not a desired outcome on a key central site.

Height of Buildings
The amended concept master plan purports to lower the height of buildings to be contained within the revised height control of 8.5m however, twelve of the buildings are three- storey and range from 8.7m to 9.54m in height and the footprint of the amended plan is virtually identical to the one originally proposed.

While the three storey buildings are shown as remaining below the 8.5m height plane they do so by excavating below the natural ground level. Contrary to the objectives of the LEP, from the street view their height, bulk and scale will still not be compatible with the existing and desired future character of the locality and the visual impact will not be minimised.

Character, Bulk and Scale
St Georges Basin and the surrounding area is characterised by low scale development and areas of significant vegetation. All existing dwellings are limited to two-storeys (the majority are single level homes) and even existing developments within the areas zoned B4 are of low scale. The proposal, specifying thirteen apartment buildings up to 3 storeys, is in conflict with the rural village character of St Georges Basin and the surrounding Bay & Basin area.

It has previously been noted that significant amendments to the original proposal were needed to mitigate the impacts on surrounding properties and in particular the character of the area. The visible bulk of the buildings should be predominantly 1 or 2 storeys to be more reflective of the local character. These concerns are not addressed by the ‘Amended Plan’. The proposed forms are still large and imposing, providing little visual relief, particularly to the public domain. These forms are out of character and incompatible with the prevailing building form.

The amended proposal remains out of character with the prevailing nature of development in this locality in a rural village. The Illawarra-Shoalhaven Regional Plan outlines areas in which new medium and high density housing is to be accommodated and the subject site is not identified. This might not be an issue if the proposal was minor however, in a village such as St Georges Basin and Basin View where there are less than 2000 dwellings, the proposed 237 apartments (plus 58 apartments already approved in Buildings A & B) is an extremely large number and is not consistent with the objectives of the Regional Strategy.
Additionally, the South Coast of NSW is a unique environment and is afforded extra protection by way of SEPP 71. Amongst the issues that are required to be considered by the consent authority are the suitability of development to ensure that the type, bulk, scale and size of development is appropriate for the location and protects and improves the natural scenic quality of the surrounding area.
The amended proposal is not in keeping with the existing character of the area and, given its scale and design, is not suitable to this location and will not protect the scenic qualities of the area.

Social Impact
We are also concerned about the potential for significant social impact on the local community since the proposal provides for a 20% plus increase in the number of dwellings in St Georges Basin all within a small area of the village, the potential effects of which have not been addressed by the applicant. Existing facilities and services are already stretched with Council and State Government funding insufficient to meet even current demands.

Together with the existing approval for 58 apartments, the proposed development will add more than 800 new residents to the village, a significant population increase that has not been planned for and which will place extraordinary pressure on all amenities, services and facilities in the village, especially medical, education and social services.

Density
The Statement of Environmental Effects prepared by Cowman Stoddart Pty Ltd (D17/101204 Report - Statement of Environmental Effects) asserts that “the subject land is considered eminently suitable for higher density development”. It is relevant that they do not recommend ‘high’ density. ‘Higher’ density developments in St Georges Basin are generally single storey freestanding seniors living dwellings such as Rosevale Village and the AVEO Retirement Village, both of which comprise approximately 25 dwellings per hectare.

The level of density proposed for the site is totally out of proportion to the area. In a village that currently has less than 10 dwellings per hectare the applicant is seeking to build an additional 237 dwellings on a 3.6-hectare site that already has approval for 58 dwellings, which equates to 82 dwellings per hectare. By any definition that is high density and while this may be appropriate for a metropolitan location with access to adequate public transport, schools, hospitals, medical centres and other infrastructure, it makes no sense in a rural village with almost no public transport and very limited infrastructure.

We also challenge the need for a development of this size, density and nature. The 2016 census reveals that the villages of St Georges Basin and Basin View combined, contained 1977 dwellings. The Shoalhaven City Council forecast is that this will increase by 754 to a total of 2731 by 2036, that is a requirement of just 38 new dwellings per year. The 353 apartments proposed for the entire site alone represents nearly 10 years supply.

Demographics & Demand
In St Georges Basin 32% of the dwellings are occupied by elderly families, couples or singles. Another 19.8% consist of older couples and families and 20.6% by established couples and families. Over 73% of the market consists of mature aged people and their families who have chosen to live in single or two storey individual dwellings. Young families and independent youths, who might consider this type of dwelling, make up less than 10% of the market, mostly as a direct result of the lack of employment opportunities in the area.

Over the past several decades the population of St Georges Basin has exhibited a consistent trend towards an increasingly aged population. Due to lifestyle and affordability considerations, some families with young children make a house with a garden in the village their home but, once the children leave school and move on to university or jobs in the city, they leave home. Additionally, many retired couples relocate from the city to St Georges Basin for the same affordability and lifestyle reasons, so the average age of the population progressively increases and is likely to continue to do so.

Apartment style living has not been shown to be the choice of those moving into the village. The retirees come to places like St Georges Basin so that they can continue to live in their preferred single storey detached dwelling, albeit with a smaller garden or in a retirement village. We do not see either of these groups, who make up over 80% of the population, becoming prospective purchasers of these units.

The CoVid-19 pandemic has also highlighted a preference for individual dwellings as people shy away from the close encounters experienced by high-density apartment residents, especially in lifts, community facilities and common areas. A significant trend is evident of city dwellers relocating to stand alone dwellings in rural areas. The current proposal does not address this need.

Additional Comment
We are especially concerned about the poor quality of the concept masterplan, which many of our members consider to be little more than a misguided attempt to increase the value of the land prior to on-selling the properties.

Little thought or consideration appears to have been given to the potential market for the end product. The context of the site or its location between the existing residential areas and the commercial centre of the village has not been taken into account. There is a lack of creativity in the layout, there is no connection to the rural environment, barely any sensitivity to the waterway and distant views and limited imaginative or high-quality architectural input.

The objectives of the R1 zone are
to provide for the housing needs of the community, to provide for a variety of housing types and densities and to enable other land uses that provide facilities or services to meet the day to day needs of residents.

The amended concept masterplan provides little other than a still very large number of apartments for which there is no proven demand. It does not provide a variety of housing types and densities or facilities or services to meet the needs of residents.

The Bay and Basin community are not anti-development but do want future development to enhance the character of our region. This site in the village of St Georges Basin needs a much more sensitive and well considered plan than this amendment delivers. It needs a proposal that actually contributes to the future of our village not one that downgrades it. The residents of St Georges Basin and the wider Shoalhaven area, for whom this could set a precedent, deserve a better outcome.

We ask that the application be rejected.


Yours sincerely

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Email from Gordon Clark, 20th September, 2019

Dear Councillors,
 I wish to advise that Mr DeBattista’s challenge to the Gateway determination concerning the Planning Proposal (PP) to reduced the mapped ‘height of building’ in the LEP over his land located at Anson Street, St Georges Basin is listed for hearing on 26, 27 and 28 September (next Wednesday to Friday inclusive) in the Land and Environment Court in Sydney before Justice Moore.  
 This is a Class 4 hearing.  Whilst there is no opportunity for public submissions, the public may attend to observe the proceedings.    The proceedings have been allocated to Courtroom 10A.   
 You may recall that the progress of the Planning Proposal has been stayed, by agreement, until the final day of the hearing of these proceedings.  It is likely that that stay will continue until the judgment is handed down.  Considering the Class 1 appeal is listed for hearing on 27 November, it is anticipated the judgment will be given priority. 
 If the applicant is successful with this application, then he is likely to pursue the Class 1 proceedings concerning the Masterplan development application.   If unsuccessful, Council will need to act swiftly to progress the Planning Proposal as far as possible (hopefully to Notification) prior to the commencement of the Class 1 hearing in November 2018.
You will be kept advised of progress in this regard.


8th June 2018
Class 4 - Legal Challenge to Planning Proposal PP0023 Class 1 - Appeal regarding Regional Development Application RA17/1000
Dear Residents, 
The Land and Environment Court has listed Mr David DeBattista’s action against Council challenging the Planning Proposal 0023 to reduce the building height of Mr DeBattista’s land at St Georges Basin for hearing in Sydney on 26, 27 and 28 September 2018.
This is classified by the Court as a Class 4 proceeding. It is not the practice of the Court to permit resident submissions in Class 4 proceedings. If you are interested in the Court’s general procedure for Class 4 matters you may access the Practice Note by clicking on the following link: Practice Note - Class 4 Proceedings (PDF)
The Court has also listed the Class 1 Appeal concerning Mr DeBattista’s regional development application (RA17/1000 – Masterplan for 15 multi storey buildings) for hearing in Sydney on 27, 28 and 29 November 2018.   
Unlike Class 4 proceedings, it is the usual practice of the Court to permit resident submissions on site on the morning of the first day of the hearing. The Court has not made any direction with respect  to the resident submissions. In this case, the Court may decide to rely upon the residents’ submissions provided at the section 34 Conciliation Conference, particularly if the same Commissioner is appointed to preside over the hearing.   
Council’s legal team for both actions include Mr Andrew Pickles of Senior Counsel; and Alan Bradbury and Andrew Brickhill from BAL Lawyers. 
Council representatives will be in touch with the community representatives closer to the hearing date to discuss the Court’s directions regarding resident submissions.
Further Information 
For further information please contact Council’s Legal Services Coordinator, Samantha Neilson on (02) 4429 3545.



Ministerial-response
To read Hon Shelley Hancock’s Submission, download the pdf - shelley's submission


RAresponsePg1
RAresponsePg2

Below is speech to Parliament, by The Hon. Shelley Hancock, Member for South Coast (taken from Hansard recording)

Ms SHELLEY HANCOCK ( South Coast ) ( 18:09 ): “St Georges Basin is a beautiful village in my electorate of South Coast. Like many other smaller villages and towns, it is quiet, pristine and relaxing and comprises low-key residential areas. It is much like so many other villages and towns on the South Coast. Our communities have fought hard on many fronts and on many occasions to retain the character of their towns and villages—I have joined them—and to prevent overdevelopment of their area. They do not want the kind of development that has occurred further to our north in places like Shellharbour or even further north on the Central Coast and the North Coast. They do not want the amenity of their neighbourhoods spoiled nor their lifestyle affected.
The South Coast is a favoured destination for tourists. Hence, for decades we have seen many developers bring forward in some cases inappropriate developments that are completely out of character with our towns and villages. The battle has indeed been ongoing to prevent the destruction of everything we love about our area. Yet, the South Coast continues to grow and to develop, with new subdivisions proceeding in areas around Nowra and Ulladulla. There have been rare objections from the community due to the recognition that we need to grow and build our communities. We are a sensible, balanced community, and we know by instinct what feels wrong, what looks wrong and what is wrong.
I refer tonight to a development proposal in St Georges Basin for 13 four- storey residential flat buildings 13 metres high, one four-storey mixed use residential and commercial building 13 metres high, and one two-storey mixed-use residential and commercial building seven metres high. The residential buildings will contain a mix of two- and three-bedroom apartments to give a proposed total of 88 two-bedroom and 292 three-bedroom apartments, giving a total of 380 apartments in a quiet residential street. In Wollongong or Sydney, or further to the north, this application would no doubt be welcomed because it represents more than $1 million of development in the area. It would in no way be out of character with existing and surrounding development in other regions. However, in St Georges Basin, a small village, this application has been resoundingly rejected by the community at well-attended public meetings because it is simply out of character in this quiet residential area. In my view, it should also rejected by the Southern Joint Regional Panel, which will be the consenting authority.
Residents have been invited to make submissions to Shoalhaven City Council, and I encourage them to do so. Complacency may result in the approval of this project because after an error of judgment by a previous council, the height limits in this area were raised to 13 metres as part of the local environment plan [LEP] review in 2012. While the community is concerned about the LEP issues in relation to height, they recognise and have been informed by council that the development complies with the current mapped building heights that were adopted by Shoalhaven City councillors, contrary to staff recommendations. To their credit, the council staff have submitted a proposal to change the mapped building heights and have been asked by the Department of Planning and Environment for further information to justify this alteration to the recently reviewed Shoalhaven LEP.
However, the matter is now before the Land and Environment Court for mediation. It may then be referred to the Joint Regional Planning Panel [JRPP] for determination. This process is independent of the State Government and the Minister for Planning. It does have two Shoalhaven City Council representatives, who should convey the community's serious concerns during its deliberations. In addition, I will be submitting an objection to the proposal to the JRRP, and I encourage all residents to do the same. My objection will be based on loss of amenity, traffic, overshadowing, inadequate parking on site, and lack of infrastructure in the area to cope with an additional 1,000 residents to this small village.
My experience and support of my local communities in the past at Currarong, where a most inappropriate development was proposed, at the small village of Tomerong, where a huge tip was proposed, and at Milton, where the Shoalhaven City Council wanted to close the local library, have indicated to me that if the community unites and fights for what it believes in, it can win. In this case, I think it can. The St Georges Basin development proposal is completely out of character and would impact on the amenity and character of the village. It must be rejected out of hand.”




Email submissions to
council@shoalhaven.nsw.gov.au or posted to Shoalhaven City Council  PO Box 42 Nowra and marked as comment on RA17/1000 Island Point Rd (Anson St) St Georges Basin.
MASTER PLAN
RA17-1000