Harris Farm Planning Proposal Submission

06 April 2020

Your Reference S12120

Harris Farm Planning Proposal

Dear Mr McKee

I refer to the above and wish to submit that the above planning proposal should not be supported by Councillors.

Introduction

The above involves a proposal to rezone the old Parker’s Nursery and Petrol Station site at 105 Eastern Rd and 45-47 Tennyson Rd, Turramurra from its current R2 residential zoning to a B1 neighbourhood centre zoning which permits specified business use (the Site).

If rezoned, the Site will not be confined to use as a Harris Farm Supermarket Development of the type advertised to the community.  Many other business uses and configurations for the site could take place.  The property rezoned could be on sold to a different business.  Harris Farm could be taken over by a rival Supermarket chain. 

If approved, this will become a very dangerous precedent for all Wards within the Council area.  No Councillor will be able to complain about any future supermarket or other business development proposed in residential areas in their part of the Local Government Area of Ku-ring-gai. 

The Ku-ring-gai community has previously retained and protected the character of our neighbourhoods as much as possible.  That is the reason why former developments of the kind for this proposed rezoning, have been confined largely to the Town Centres, where the major road infrastructure and public transport is located.   

The basic position which cannot be changed by any argument, is that the area of the Site is not suitable for this zoning.

Can I reiterate that both proposals by Aldi and Harris Farm are the same – that is they both sought rezoning only of the Site.

Although Harris Farm in a non-legally binding way, say that they might do something different with the Site after rezoning, both Aldi and Harris Farm came to council with a rezoning application.

For consistency if nothing else, each should be dealt with in the same manner.

Council will not provide funds to ameliorate the traffic and other impacts of this proposal.  My previous inquiries of Council to try and rectify the traffic problems along Killeaton Street and Burns Road was met with the response that it would cost about $100 million to fix them and the poorly congested intersection of Burns Rd and Eastern Rd.

As the report to Council for the St Ives Basketball proposal in February of this year made clear, Council does not have in its budget the financial ability to create new council assets.  If it cannot find $10 million or so to fund indoor basketball courts to fill a deficiency in our area, Council will not be able to find money to deal with the traffic consequences of a commercial development in the wrong location.

Any supporter of this proposal must do so with the knowledge, that Council will not be able to upgrade the roads that will be adversely impacted.

I have been very impressed with the erudite submissions that have been made by the community in opposition to the proposal.  I suggest that all Councillors read them.  As a consequence my submission needs only be relatively short because most of the points have already been made.

While I am not against the commercial activities of Harris Farm Markets (nor am I against ALDI), I am concerned that the location and size of the development may not be suitable for the Site for several reasons, including that:

  • it is in a tightly-held residential area, the amenity of which could be substantially reduced;
  • the Proposal still suggests building a large structure with bulk and scale that is outside of the local character of the area; 
  • when a new LEP was drafted by Council as recently as 2015, the Site was determined to be zoned for residential use in the event that it ever ceased to be used as a plant nursery or petrol station;
  • the local roads, which are already very busy, were not built to receive the volume of cars and heavy vehicle traffic by suppliers to the supermarket that would necessarily result from the intended development;
  • a Harris Farm supermarket could seriously threaten the viability of the local existing Eastern Road retailers who, like other members of the public, have contacted my office out of concern,
  • the Government's prevailing planning philosophy is that developments of this kind should take place in the town centre, near the railway station; and
  • developments of this kind away from town centres will detract from future town centre development when the Turramurra Town Centre finally proceeds after the Lindfield Town Centre has been allowed to jump the queue.

 

Community Feedback

I have been contacted by a total number of 281 constituents since the planning proposal was advertised by Council.  I have the legal ability to access the electoral rolls under the Electoral Act.  I can verify that these people are enrolled to vote within my electorate and are residents of the Ku-ring-gai Council Local Government Area.

Of those constituents 255 were opposed and 26 were in support.

That is 91 % are opposed in percentage terms which is a significant level of community opposition.

Some people have sent emails to my office and Councillor Greenfield but may not have separately sent them to the Council.

This level of opposition is similar to the Aldi rezoning proposal some years ago which was unanimously rejected by the Council.

I would encourage Council to note which submissions are sent to it by residents and which are not.

I should note that Harris Farm have engaged in attempts to garner community support.  Change.org campaigns are not limited to local residents.

The support for Harris Farm is often from employees and customers who do not live in our area.  The emails from them are not of the quality or consideration of the bespoke emails in opposition.

I would suggest that in a qualitative and quantitative manner, the emails in overwhelming opposition represent the true views of our community and how they will support in the future Councillors in all Wards of the LGA who oppose this proposal.

 

Traffic

Most roads in our area are owned and maintained by the Council including relevantly Eastern Road, Burns Road, Alice Street and Tennyson Avenue. 

The Traffic Study by Winston Langley (amended June 2019) (Report)
does not address the traffic concerns of the public.

It is completely silent about impacts upon the major traffic intersection with difficulties near the Site, being the intersection of Burns and Eastern Roads.  It performs no analysis of the impact of this development on that already badly performing intersection.

The Report gives little explanation as to its methodology.  The Report is completely out of date as it was performed prior to the end of June 2018 and the dates that the traffic counts were conducted are not clear in the Report.  Its calculations as to future traffic impacts are at best a guess.  If traffic reports were a science then neither the Lane Cove Tunnel nor the Cross City Tunnel would have run into financial difficulties due to the traffic forecasts being very wrong. The reader is left with almost no understanding as to how the numbers are arrived at.

But even on the basis of this Report, there is going to be in percentage terms, huge increase in traffic in and around the area of the Site from the current levels.  Most in the community will rightly consider that to be unacceptable.

What we do know is that the Harris Farm at Lindfield has been very successful and has had significant adverse traffic impacts.

If Harris Farm can put a supermarket at a railway station area in Lindfield, why can’t it find a similar site at Turramurra within the existing zonings?

 

Process

I have already written to the community about the prior Council process.  These concerns are now exemplified by Council proceeding with this public consultation process in the middle of the largest health crisis in our lifetime with unparalleled restrictions on movement and the meeting of community groups.  Several Councillors, members of the community and I have requested the process be frozen during the current crisis.  Harris Farm, the proponent, could have made a similar request as a show of its community bona fides.  However, Council has determined to proceed with the process.

This is an aggravation of how the community has previously been shut out from this process.

On 26 March 2019, Ku-ring-gai Council endorsed a planning proposal by Harris Farm Markets to rezone the Site.

The Council resolution was passed only three days after the NSW State Election, when the attention of many people was no doubt focussed elsewhere. Even a close reading of the relevant Council notice paper and minute does not reveal that it concerned a significant retail development. I suspect most, if not all, of the community like me were unaware that the proposal was even coming before their elected representatives on the Council on 26 March.

When a resolution was put on 19 November 2019 to stop the planning proposal for the Site, the Council was split 50:50 when the community was first able to have some input.

If this proposal proceeds there will always been a feeling in the community that proper process as to community consultation did not take place and a degree of community anger will always remain.

 

Conclusion

I would encourage all Councillors to oppose the planning proposal for the rezoning of the Site as Councillors Jennifer Anderson, Cheryl Szatow and Jeff Pettett opposed in December 2015 the same rezoning application for the Site made by Aldi.

 

Yours sincerely

Alister Henskens SC MP

Member for Ku-ring-gai