Parramatta Council’s Draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSDS) is an important document. It sets out the Council’s vision for the growth of the Parramatta Local Government Area to 2036, and how it intends to plan for and manage this growth. Most of the details of Council’s future planning, including changes to Local Environment Plans and Development Control Plans, will be developed from this document.
The Epping Ward of Parramatta is a key part of this document. There are three sections to the LSDS:
• The draft Local Strategic Planning Statement itself.
• The draft Local Housing Strategy.
• The draft Community Infrastructure Strategy.
The Trust encourages members to read and comment upon these documents. They can be found at the following links (but we have also saved the key documents in the box opposite for easy access):
The big picture:
The documents clearly identify the rapid change experienced across the LGA, but specifically Epping, and the fact that State government mandated housing targets are more than on track to be met. As such the strategies seeks to resolve key challenges, but also still flags more development through provision of low rise medium density housing (presented as an option for diversity in housing options but will essentially just add to the local population and resulting issues).
What about Epping:
We believe that the planning regime adopted by Parramatta Council in the period from 2016 to date has in many ways not produced a good outcome for Epping. It is widely acknowledged that development here has proceeded at a pace which has far outstripped the provision of the necessary infrastructure to support the increased population. The provision or upgrading of parks, schools, open space, library facilities, sporting and recreational facilities and other community infrastructure is all now being thought about after much development has taken place. The decision to remove nearly all jobs from Epping through loss of commercial floor space is now seen as a mistake but will be hard to reverse. In addition, Epping has the fundamental fact that it is a suburb cut in two by the railway line.
Local Strategic Planning Statement and Local Housing Strategy overview:
The Trust supports some elements of these plans as relating to Epping, but has concerns about other parts as follows:
• Preservation of the low scale character outside of the Epping Town Centre
• No major rezoning’s
• Support for mass transit between Epping and Parramatta
• Support for Epping jobs targets
• Growth linked to infrastructure delivery
• Housing Strategy targets are subject to the Epping Planning Review, transport upgrades and resolution of mass transit challenges
• Opportunity to uncap the developer contribution levy from June 2020 and thereby improve funding for infrastructure
• Fails to address the lack of capacity in Epping Town Centre to absorb the doubling of housing capacity that is forecast and targets appear to be arbitrary.
• No plan for an equivalent doubling of infrastructure (schools, sporting facilities, open space, etc) – just motherhood statements that they are needed.
• No deadline for Epping Planning review process.
• The proposal to mandate minimum commercial floor space may be problematic to implement.
• LSPS is proposed to be reviewed every 7 years, yet previous experience shows housing targets needs monitoring more frequently
Community Infrastructure Strategy
This is a long and detailed strategy encompassing provision of open space, sporting facilities, community facilities including community centres/aquatic centres/libraries, early childhood provision, affordable housing and more. The key documents are the summary and the Epping specific section – see box for links.
For Epping, council proposes some key things:
• Dence Park – masterplan already underway
• Boronia Function centre – soon to be new community centre
• A Civic centre – public open space in heart of town centre (most likely Rawson Street car park)
• One new district play space – but not identified where or how
• New enlarged library in Rawson Street, and existing library downgraded to small community centre
The Trust believes there should be community open space , or a plaza, on both sides of the railway line. We believe a new library is required. And that it should be built on the existing library site, with the publicly owned land between that site and Pembroke St becoming community open space. The Rawson St car park should provide public open space on the Western side of Epping. The Community clearly identified a preference for this arrangement in the Epping Planning Review so why is council not listening? And we propose to argue this way in our submission.
These are weighty documents that will dictate and lead a lot of what will happen in Epping and the wider LGA over the next 20 years. We believe detailed planning strategies and controls need to be developed to ensure that these unsatisfactory outcomes are not continued into the future. The Trust will be urging the adoption of such strategies and controls in its submission.