Double Bay Residents’ Association Inc
P.O. Box 1684, Double Bay NSW 1360
Tel: 0413 888 685 Email: dbrassoc@gmail.com


The General Manager,
Woollahra Municipal Council,
PO Box 61,
Double Bay NSW 1360
12 February 2018

Dear Sir,

OBJECTION TO DA 589/2017/1   24-26 BAY STREET, Double Bay

We have examined the drawings and reports filed in support of the above application for alterations and additions to the above commercial/ office building. Our Association opposes the grant of consent for the above development on the principal grounds of:

  • Excessive height;
  • Excessive FSR;
  • Breach of the envelope, setback and other controls in Woollahra DCP 2015;
  • Overshadowing impacts;
  • The complete absence of any provision of on-site car parking;
  • The crazy shape irregular cladding.

We deal below with each of these grounds of objection in turn.

Excessive height

Under the Woollahra LEP the building has a maximum permissible height of 14.7m. Although Mecone in their clause 4.6 objection claim that the building will have an overall height of 17.37m, we would argue that the actual height is in fact 17.97m or over 22% over the LEP limit. Drawing DA300 (North Elevation) shows the height of the lift overrun at RL 21.93 and the ground floor level at the lobby entrance on the northern elevation at RL 3.96 = a height of 17.97m. The ground level used by Mecone is perched in the air well above floor level. We note from the SEE that at the pre-DA conference Council staff reportedly made the same point we make, namely that height should be measured from natural ground level.

In our view the clause 4.6 objection must fail, having regard to the law as stated in Four2Five P/L v Ashfield Council (2015) NSWLEC 90 (3 June 2015).

The Applicant has failed to show that all the objectives of the height standard are achieved or fulfilled by the development notwithstanding the non-compliance.

In particular the proposed height is not consistent with the desired future character of Bay Street South as reflected in the DCP which highlights its modest buildings on narrow lots and the importance of a number of buildings of contributory heritage character (all 2 storey) and the importance of their retention. It also calls for setback areas at ground level that can be used for outdoor eating or public circulation. This building is in height terms particularly not consistent with that future character (Objective (a)).

Nor is it consistent with Objective (b) – “to establish a transition in scale between zones to protect local amenity.”

The point is that this property is located on the western edge of the Centre and therefore the height of development must establish a transition or grading down to the three storey height limit of the adjoining residential streets of Cooper Street and South Avenue. This transition is achieved by the 14.7m height limit in the LEP for this site. It is not achieved by the five storeys proposed. We note that the adjoining building to the south is only 4 storeys complying with the standard.

Equally objective (c ) is not achieved by this development – the objective being “to minimize the loss of solar access to existing buildings and open space”.

Whilst the shadow diagrams filed with the DA appear incomplete – it is clear that the additional development will put Bay Street in afternoon shadow in winter to the detriment of the pavement cafes on the east side of the street as well as some of the east side buildings.

This last point also means that objective (d) is unfulfilled – since the same east side premises will suffer from overshadowing and visual intrusion.

Accordingly in terms of clause 4.6 (3)(a), because the development fails to fulfil the objectives of the standard, it has not been shown that compliance with it is unreasonable or unnecessary in the circumstances of the case. To the limited extent the Applicant’s written statement addresses the objectives of the height standard it must be rejected. This automatically means that the developer has failed to satisfy clause 4.6(4) (i) and separately fails the separate requirement of 4.6 (4) (ii) (both limbs having separately to be satisfied by the applicant – see Pain J at Four2Fiveat para 34). There is no particular public benefit in the provision of two extra office floors (without parking) on this site which would not be afforded by providing similar space on any other site in the Centre – see again the reasoning in Four2Five (para 7 reciting para 60 of the Commissioner’s judgment).

The clause 4.6 objection failing the Council has no power to approve the breach of the height standard.

Excessive FSR

We will have to rely on Council staff’s advice as to whether the applicant’s claim of an FSR of 3.78:1 is correctly calculated.

It is conceded by the Applicant that this development is 22% in excess of the maximum 3:1 which they claim for this site. However they are only entitled to 3:1 as opposed to the general maximum of 2.5:1 if they can satisfy the requirement under cl 4.4 of the LEP of showing the development is compatible with the desired future character of the neighbourhood in terms of bulk and scale. If they cannot satisfy that they are in fact over 51% in excess of the LEP maximum. For reasons addressed under our fourth paragraph above under the Height heading we say that the development is not compatible with the desired character of Bay St South and therefore the 2.5:1 rather than the 3:1 FSR applies. Equally its failure to comply with the building envelope controls in the DCP, both as to the impermissible 5th floor and the inadequately set back 4th floor as discussed below, similarly mean that the development is not compatible with the desired future character of the neighbourhood.

The clause 4.6 objection to compliance with the FSR development standard must be rejected.  It does not fulfil the objective of the standard which is “to ensure that buildings are compatible with the desired future character of the area in terms of bulk and scale”. That desired future character is set out in the Woollahra DCP 2015. We repeat what we have said above in our fourth paragraph under the heading “Excessive height” about the call for modest buildings for Bay Street South, the need to have regard to the two storey contributory terraces on the opposite side of Bay Street as well as the need for colonnading and setbacks. We also deal with this issue more fully below under the next heading.

Breach of the envelope, setback and other controls in Woollahra DCP 2015

We have already noted that the DCP for this area of Bay Street South calls for setback areas at ground floor level that can be used for eating areas or public circulation. Colonnades along Bay Street are also required. It also requires at ground level a 2.5m setback along the Cooper Street frontage, as well as a 1.2m setback along Brooklyn Lane.

Instead of this the building occupies at ground floor level 100% of the site area with no setbacks at all. No colonnading is provided.

At levels 2 and 3 (assuming ground floor as level 1) the DCP requires a 2.4m setback to Bay Street, a 2.5m setback along Cooper Street and a 1.2m setback along Brooklyn Lane. Again there are nil setbacks to Cooper Street and Brooklyn Lane.

At level 4 the same pattern continues with nil setback provided to either Cooper Street or Brooklyn Lane despite the DCP requirements of respectively 2.5 and 1.2 setbacks.

Level 5 of course is completely in breach of the envelope control in the DCP which has a 4 storey limit for this site. It should not exist.

Against this pattern of total disregard for the setback, colonnading and height provisions in the DCP the applicant’s claim of “Mostly complies” is laughable. Basically what it has done is to lump two extra floors on top of the existing building, inserted a lift and new stairs, without any attempt to bring the building into compliance with the DCP controls. The result will be an overbearingly bulky building with the most unfortunate impacts on the contributory buildings facing on the other side of Bay Street and residents along Cooper Street and nearby South Avenue. The vista eastwards along Cooper Street and South Avenue would have a lopsided appearance with this five storey building with no setback on one side and the two storey period Royal Oak hotel on the other side.

Overshadowing impacts

The single shadow diagram provided with the drawings is inadequate to assess the impacts. Firstly, it is cut off and does not show the full shadows and their relationship to nearby buildings (for example buildings at 3pm on the east side of Bay Street). Secondly there are only three times of day shown. We would query whether Council should refuse to process the DA until proper shadow diagrams have been provided.

It is reasonably clear that in the winter afternoon shadows will be cast across Bay Street to the east placing the eating outside areas of the restaurants opposite in shadow at the very time of year when they most need to be in sun.

The complete absence of any provision for car parking

No car parking is to be provided as part of the proposal.

The car parking that should be provided under the Woollahra DCP, accepting the measurements of areas as set out in the applicant’s traffic study, are for the entire building:

Basement Restaurant (303m2) at 7 spaces per 100m2 = 21.2 spaces

Ground level Retail (253m2) at 3.3 spaces per 100m2 = 8.3 spaces

Upper level 1 Commercial (245m2) at 2.5 spaces per 100m2 = 6.1 spaces

Upper level 2 Commercial (252m2) at 2.5 spaces per 100m2 = 6.3 spaces

Upper level 3 Commercial (245m2) at 2.5 spaces per 100m2 = 6.1 spaces

Upper level 4 Commercial (165m2) at 2.5 spaces per 100m2 = 4.1 spaces

TOTAL REQUIREMENT = 52.1 spaces

Even if one were to ignore the existing built space and merely focus on the extra sought to be built we note that the applicant’s traffic report comes up with a figure of 9.2 spaces.

It is ludicrous to suggest that the employees, patrons and visitors to this restaurant, retail and commercial space will not in a single case need car parking. The public transport to this area is not really that good. The nearest train station is a steep and long walk away. The bus service really only serves the radial from the City to Rose Bay and then is held up by delays at the Edgecliff interchange. The bus service from Bondi direction is so infrequent and slow as to be dismissed. Many making the trip will come from directions that cannot be served by these facilities.

These DCP requirements for parking were made in any event having regard to the availability of the public transport as discussed and therefore can be taken as realistic estimates of the parking shortfall.

This Association has repeatedly warned of the ever worsening parking situation in Double Bay which involves residents and theirvisitors competing for not enough on-street parking spaces. The Kiaora Lands car park is now frequently full and the possible redevelopment of the Cross Street car park will cause a parking nightmare whilst it happens.

Destruction of a Character Building under Woollahra DCP cl 5.6.3.8

This building designed by the late Neville Gruzman is a listed character building under 5.6.3.8 of the DCP, having “high streetscape value because of (its) strong architectural character and the way in which (it) address(es) the street”.

Under Control  C1 any works to the building ”are to be designed to be compatible with the significance” of this character building. The proposed irregular shaped cladding is entirely incompatible with the modernist classical lines of the Gruzman design.

Under Control C3:

 “Development to a character building is to respect the building and complement and enhance the key characteristics of the building including:

  • Street edge definition;
  • Its material, detailing and character;
  • Its holistic building character related to articulation, massing and patterns and distribution of wall opening.”

This design completely changes the appearance of the building from its rectilinear almost classical lines to a funky totally irregular design quite inconsistent with its existing lines and character.

The destruction of the beautiful circular internal staircase is the reverse of “respect for the building” and enhancement of its key characteristics.

Control C6 is also not satisfied – it is anything but a variation to the building envelope which retains or enhances the architectural streetscape value of the existing building. The proposed irregularly shaped exterior is the antithesis of the existing streetscape value of the building.

 

Conclusion

For the above reasons we ask that Council reject this DA. We would ask that a copy of the staff report be provided to us when available and that we be given reasonable notice of the application coming before the determining body in Council.

 

Yours faithfully,

Double Bay Residents Association Inc

(per Barbara Mortimer, Committee Member)