52 Essex Street, Epping

52 Essex Street, Epping

DA/416/2022 - Parramatta Council

A child care centre proposed for a heritage site with a history

City of Parramatta Council  DA/416/2022 at 52 Essex St

A fairly notorious empty site on the east side of Epping has a new DA on exhibition. 52 Essex Street was one of the first sites consolidate (with previous houses demolished) back in the early days of rezoning of Epping. There were grand plans for a big block of units. But there were issues - firstly this location is within the East Epping Heritage Conservation area and the zoning was not only preservation but fitting in with the streetscape and reduced height (step down).

But more pressing became the removal of a large stand of indigenous trees on the site - without permission. Ultimately this led to the council taking the developer to court, and winning. The result was a $200,000 fine. But more importantly the owner was charged to replant the area with mature trees and maintain them. 

Nothing happened, and surprise surprise, the site was sold in May 2021 for over $4.7 million. Needless to say, the new owners are not planting any trees. 

Now, there is a DA in for a new child care centre - and (to add insult to injury) the removal of the last remaining mature tree. 

Here are some issues with this application:

  1. Proposed removal of 3 mature trees from the site which are all in good health and of substantial height and canopy spread
  • Tree # 3 – Sydney Blue gum with 23m height and 16m spread
  • Tree #  14 - Monterey Cypress with 26m high and 14m spread
  • Tree # 15 - Turpentine 23m high with 16m spread

All these trees provide an important visual green screening between the heritage conservation residential housing and the imposing medium density development at the rear of the Essex St HCA. The building envelop and basement parking has the potential for a redesign and repositioning of the building to accommodate the retention of all trees on the block.

2. The contemporary front façade of the building is not in keeping with the heritage streetscape of the Essex St HCA - The proposed form, massing, style, and materials of the proposed building are far from acceptable.

  • The proposed building will be constructed across the entire building block and dominate the street, unlike the surrounding heritage pattern of detached housing separated by garden space and rear driveway access
  • The proposed aluminium windows in the front elevation of the front building use materials and design of a modern nature,  square with glazing bars, and vertically narrow grouped windows, all of which do not  complement the Essex St heritage streetscape
  • The proposed front façade elevation is minimally articulated using an entry gable, and does not break up the building mass from the street – a large expanse of a blank face brick wall at the front elevation next to this proposed gable does not sympathetically convey a visual reduction of massing, nor reflect compatible heritage values to the street frontage. 

3.The black tiled roof of the front building is not considered to be compliant with Council objectives within a heritage conservation area. An unglazed red/orange terracotta tile feature should be encouraged to promote a sympathetic design principle within the adjacent original housing stock built within the Essex St HCA.

4. A double driveway is proposed and this will unnecessarily dominate the streetscape where the heritage Essex St HCA is of a traditional single driveway design.

According to Council’s current 2013 DCP, the Essex Street Epping Heritage Conservation Area retains a largely well intact example of housing styles from the Federation and Inter-war periods, representative of the early era of suburban development within Epping. The overall early 20th century character, streetscape pattern and historical integrity of the area remains, and as such, any new development in the Essex St HCA should respect and complement this heritage  streetscape. Preservation of all existing mature trees on the site should also be maintained, given that Epping is far too frequently succumbing to Council’s standard phrase of ‘to facilitate development’ and freely granting tree removal permits to developers.

The Trust encourages Epping residents to oppose this DA. And ask council what consequences are there on non-compliance to a court order by the previous owners.