A Land and Environment Court decision to uphold an appeal against the refusal of the development application for a seniors residential facility could open the floodgates for further development on rural zoned land.
That’s the verdict from concerned Hornsby councillors over the plans for 705 to 717 Old Northern Road, Dural.
On the recommendation of Hornsby Council, the Sydney North Planning Panel refused last November Thompson Health Care’s application to build two and three storey 143 residential care suites and support facilities on 1.98 hectares of land zoned rural, due to the proposal’s lack of compatibility with the surrounding rural area.
But Thompson launched a Class 1 appeal and last week the appeal was upheld after an earlier hearing in mid May before Commissioner Walsh in the Land and Environment Court (LEC).
The DA had, concluded the LEC Commissioner, competing objectives with the GSC’s North District Plan and the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) for seniors living, and the challenge involved in protecting productive rural activities at the fringe of the city, as well as those associated with biodiversity protection. However he also concluded that the priority must go to the objectives of the SEPP and meeting demand for seniors housing, even in rural or semi-rural areas.
The Commissioner went on to state that “in terms of its visual presence, there will be good prospects for this development to harmonise quite well with its locality.”
A Council spokesman said it did not intend to take the matter further. However Hornsby Councillor Emma Heyde said that the go-head “means seniors’ living on currently rural-zoned land, and more to come, given this judgement.
“It’s likely the area will rapidly be eaten up with seniors’ living now the Greater Sydney Commission’s suggestion of protection for the area has been shown to be toothless.”
However one local resident who did not want to be named, did not feel the development was a blight to the area. “It’s walking distance to the shops and it’s almost across the road from another seniors development. So it makes sense to have this here. It won’t stand out like a sore thumb.”
This decision comes just two months after the state government turned down a controversial proposal to allow Lyon Folkestone to build 2,900 houses in South Dural on the grounds that it was not prepared to foot the bill for new roads needed to service the development.