Glen Road Action Group was caught unaware when the applicants for a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre announced amended plans at the first hearing of the NSW Land and Environment Court.
Residents, Central Coast Council officers, and representatives of the applicants, Dr Sujatha Kalava and Dr Shashi Kanth Kalava, met with the court’s Commissioner for a conciliation conference on Wednesday, April 17, on-site at 74 Glen Rd, Ourimbah.
The group’s town planning consultant, Gary Chestnut, said that when residents tried to submit to the Commissioner a drawing, illustrating how the building would impact on a neighbour, the applicant’s lawyer would not allow it to be entered into discussion because the plans had been amended and, therefore, the drawing was not relevant.
“We haven’t seen the plans, we don’t know what the amendments are and the applicant’s lawyer did not explain,” he said.
“It does seem unfair because the community does not know what the amended plans are, and it could very well be something that they do not object to.
“It’s the proposal before those amendments that the residents object to on various counts” he said.
After the site inspection, Council officers and the applicant’s legal team went into confidential conference with the aim of reaching agreement and putting up ideas to reach a compromise.
If they cannot reach agreement by May 8, the conciliation period will be terminated and the matter will be listed for the next available hearing date in the Land and Environment Court.
There is no obligation to place the amended plans on public exhibition unless there are substantial differences to the plan, and it is at the discretion of Council officers in the planning department.
Glen Road Action Group conducted a successful campaign to have the drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre rejected by Central Coast Council in October 2018, on the grounds of inadequate on-site sewage servicing.
The applicants then appealed to the Land and Environment Court.
Gary Chestnut said the group had various objections, including variations to setbacks and impacts of privacy on adjoining owners, inadequate on-site sewage management system, non-compliance with the definition of a group home, the bulk and scale being out of character with surrounding dwellings and discrepancies between consultants’ reports.
“The development application, as defined under the rules and regulations, does not conform to the definition of a group home,” Chestnut said.
“A traditional group home normally has five or six residents and is designed to transition people under drug and alcohol rehabilitation back to “normal” life and to learn life skills to look after themselves, yet this proposal is for 14 units.
“Also, meals will be catered off-site and delivered to the centre and laundry will be taken off-site.
“In the community’s opinion, this is a commercial enterprise rather than what a traditional group home should be,” Chestnut said.
“There’s also concerns about building scale and height being out of character, and an illustration of that is the roof area of the proposed building, which is four-and-a-half times bigger than the roof size of any other house in the surrounding area,” he said.
“The bushfire consultant’s report and assessor’s documents raise serious questions in that they say the building will be on the valley floor, but in fact, it will be on the ridgeline, also it was assessed as only requiring a 30m bushfire protection zone but as the development is classified as a group home it has to have a special protection zone of 60m.
Agenda item 2.3,
Oct 29, 2018. Central Coast Council meeting
Interview, Apr 26
Glen Road Action Group town planning consultant, Gary Chestnut
Interview, Apr 30
Media Unit, Land and Environment Court
Journalist, Sue Murray