NSW Cuts North Shore Development Heights


The New South Wales government’s vision for St Leonards and Crows Nest has been released with tower heights reduced and the number of dwellings to be built cut to 6,683, a reduction of 700 dwellings, according to the finalised 2036 plan.

Released by planning minister Rob Stokes on Saturday, building heights between the two Metro station sites in Crows Nest and St Leonards have been capped.

The finalised plan has reduced building heights for the tallest towers planned along the Pacific highway near St Leonards station to 42-storeys, down from the previously planned 60-storeys.

Around 43 new affordable housing units are included for plans at St Leonards South, an area located south of the Pacific Highway and west of the North Shore railway line.

The state government had attracted scrutiny for its lack of collaboration with local government and the community, when the initial draft plan was put on public exhibition in 2018.

But Urban Taskforce chief exec Tom Forrest said the newly released plan's proposed building height limits mean it will be unfeasible to redevelop many of the government's 32 nominated “significant sites” within the precinct.

“While Sydney is crying out for private sector investment to boost our economy, this plan makes redeveloping the “strategic sites” along the Crows Nest to St Leonards corridor a pipedream,” Forrest said.

“The practical result of this plan is that this tacky run-down wind tunnel will sit idle for years to come because the feasibility for development is just not there with the height and development controls proposed in the plan.”

The package was open for community feedback from October 2018 through to February 2019, with more than 2,100 submissions received. Feedback on the plan included complaints about overdevelopment, and that projects could lead to a glut of apartments and push local public infrastructure beyond capacity.

▲ The final plan for St Leonards and Crows Nest 2036 has been released.
▲ The final plan for St Leonards and Crows Nest 2036 has been

The St Leonards Crows Nest 2036 plan, was deemed one of four initial priority projects to consider for fast-tracking in July by the department of planning's newly-formed planning delivery unit designed to stimulate economic growth in the wake of the pandemic outbreak.

On the recent announcement, Stokes said the plan would guide the delivery of a “greener, better connected” Crows Nest and St Leonards precinct, with the addition of new parks, public spaces, better pedestrian access and increased employment space.

“The community told us they wanted more green space that enhanced local neighbourhoods, and a plan that provided certainty on what future development will look like and where it will be,” Stokes said.

Key changes to the final plan include the 10 per cent reduction in new dwellings, along with an extra 119,979sq m of commercial floor space which Stokes said would support more than 16,500 jobs.

The final plan includes $116 million towards special infrastructure contributions from developers towards road upgrades, education facilities and transport links.

The state has also pegged 8-hectares of extra park space, which it says will be partly funded by developer contributions.

It has committed $78 million to public spaces across the St Leonards and Crows Nest area, including the new Metro Park on Holtermann Street.

In a bid to deliver more dwellings, Forrest said the NSW Productivity Commission had advised on increasing housing densities such as transport-oriented developments along existing infrastructure.

“This means more height where you have just built new metro rail lines—but this plan has cut back on heights, cut back on density,” he said.

State-led rezoning of the Crows Nest Metro station site include amendments to the building envelopes, including a 20 per cent reduction in the overall size of the building envelope.

Plans for the over-station development remains at 27 storeys in height. The station was approved in January 2017.

Deemed a state significant development, the Sydney Metro Crows Nest concept application involves development at three sites; the 27-storey residential tower which would sit atop the station, a 17-storey tower earmarked for hotel accommodation, and an 8-storey commercial tower.

The Crows Nest over-station development is one of six new stations for the Sydney Metro "City & Southwest", which extends new metro rail from Chatswood, under Sydney Harbour, through the Sydney CBD to Bankstown, and is slated to open in Crows Nest in 2024.

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