Toukley Community Action Group calls for development to be deferred

Concerned residents from the Toukley Community Action Group with Member for Wyong, David Harris, on the corner of Dunleigh St and Tamar AveConcerned residents from the Toukley Community Action Group with Member for Wyong, David Harris, on the corner of Dunleigh St and Tamar Ave

The Toukley Community Action Group has called for an affordable housing development at 6 to 10 Dunleigh St, to be deferred until a new traffic impact study was completed for the area, and Fire and Emergency Services were consulted about accessibility.

The Member for Wyong, David Harris, attended a community meeting held by the group on Friday, December 7, and said he would write to both the NSW Minister and the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) to say that there was new information that needed to be taken into account before the development could be approved. Harris cautioned that the approval process, in the hands of the JRPP, was in its late stages and the development would be difficult to stop. He said the JRPP had deferred its approval until the developer complied with four minor conditions. “But they are minor, such as where the rubbish bins are located,” Harris said.

However, Harris said the developer and Central Coast Council had not asked Fire and Rescue NSW about the development, which he considered to be a major oversight. “When you think about the people who have the most accidents, statistically it would be the elderly, so there is a height and a fire hazard,” he said. “If one of the appliances tried to get into Tamar Ave it would never get there, especially if there were cars parked. “People would have to be asked to move their cars.

“It would have a hydrant, but in terms of how they access it, it is going to be a problem.” According to Harris, the last traffic management strategy put in place for the area of Toukley, including Main Rd, Tamar Ave, Dunleigh St and Moss Ave, was in 2009, and was outdated. He said the traffic and access in the area was already “diabolical” without three more major developments slated within 100m of each other. The developments are a 121-bed aged care facility fronting Main Rd, between Dunleigh and Tamar, the affordable housing development that would face Tamar Ave on the site of the former caravan park, and the multi-storey development next to the Beachcomber Hotel.

He said Council staff and the JRPP had not thought through the traffic implications for the three combined developments. “The traffic study doesn’t even talk about this, so I am going to push this as hard as I can,” Harris said.Executive Member of Toukley Community Group, Ian Wagstaffe, said that he believed both Central Coast Council and the JRPP had failed to understand the impacts of the 34-unit, four-storey building proposed for 6 to 10 Dunleigh St. Community members who attended the meeting said both the panel and Council staff had failed to look at the development in the context of its broader location, including its proximity to the approved aged care facility. “Are we objecting to everything, absolutely not, we have got a 124 bed aged care facility starting right beside this one,” Wagstaffe said.

“I bought my property 11 years ago, with a dream of knocking down that old shack and building my dream home on the Lake, and yes, I bought it near that old caravan park in the hope that one day, Council would do something,” he said. The community feels that the troubled caravan park, often used for emergency social accommodation, had finally closed, but the proposed new developments would also have a significant negative impact on the area. “For access into the aged care facility, people coming from Warnervale, will need to turn into Dunleigh, do a u-turn in that street, and turn left into Main Rd, to get into the aged care facility,” Wagstaffe said. “In the traffic reports, that is not really talked about,” he said.

“In the current guidelines, Council don’t look at more than one project, even though the aged care facility and the affordable housing are being built 50m apart at the same time. “So when you take the traffic report from one and the other, and put them together, you don’t have to be a mathematician to realise that they will have an impact. “They describe Tamar Ave as a two-way street when it resembles a lane way.” He said the community’s chances of stopping the affording housing development were “limited”.

“But even so, we can’t walk away, because this is not the last. “If we walk away now, what are the next three houses that are going to get knocked down and replaced with a complex?” David Harris said the affordable housing development was originally knocked back by Council because it was proposed to be six storeys high. He said he believed the NSW Affordable Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), put in place in 2009 to give developers incentives to build affordable housing in order to meet a shortage of stock, was not working. “Developers are buying up cheap land and they are trying to go for the maximum price, so they are building under the Affordable Housing SEPP, which gives them rights that they would normally be knocked back on. “They are doing it in places that you would not expect to find them.

“The Government put a freeze on development in Ryde because of overdevelopment and they are also re-looking at the definition of a boarding house because they have worked out that they are too big.” Harris said that in 2009, he had assisted a group called the Friends of Toukley, to have planning controls introduced because there had been no height limits in the area. “In Toukley itself, there were no height limits and people had a fear it would end up like The Entrance, and so that group fought really hard to have zonings put in, so in most of the area, you can only have a single level,” he said. “All of us, including the police, have fought to get rid of that caravan park. “When the aged care facility came up, I got one complaint in my office, but nobody else raised an eyebrow, because it was a controlled development and low level.

“The message I gave to Council and the planning panel was that this is not about people being against development or affordable housing, it is about people being against where you put it. “It has to be appropriate. “You’ve got a road that the RMS agrees cannot have any extra capacity, it is what it is, they can’t widen it, they can do what they have done in Gorokan and slow it down to 40km. “So basically, now you have a situation where any day of the week, including the weekend, trying to walk from one side of the road to another is almost impossible. “I spoke to RMS and they said they were not asked to consider the two developments together.

“They were only asked to consider each specific development,” he said. Harris urged residents to write to Council and the JRPP with new information about the deficiencies in the traffic report and the fire accessibility, as soon as possible. He said he expected Council to re-exhibit the revised plans, which would give the community an opportunity to raise its concerns again.

Source: Meeting recording, Dec 7 Toukley Community Action Group Jackie Pearson, journalist