Fort Street Public School State Significant Development Application Modification

Decision Maker: Council

Decision status: Recommendations Determined

Decisions:

Moved by Councillor Scott, seconded by Councillor Vithoulkas –

It is resolved that:

(A)      Council note:

(i)         the NSW Government has submitted a modification to the approved State Significant Development (SSD) application for Fort Street Public School to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) in late March 2021;

(ii)        residents have expressed concerns that the proposed modification to the Fort Street Public School upgrade is out of step with the heritage standards of Millers Point;

(iii)      the proposed modification would see the main building of Fort Street Public raised to four storeys exceeding the height of the heritage-listed Meteorology Building and breaching the Conservation Management Plan (CMP);

(iv)      the original proposal received nine objections while on public display, the modification received 85 objections from 93 submissions;

(v)       the National Trust’s strong objection to the modification as the plans “will have a major impact upon one of the most significant and historically important parts of Sydney” and “the addition of an extra floor level and the increase in scale and bulk goes against all previous planning and heritage advice for this sensitive, State Heritage Listed location”;

(vi)      non-compliance with the Conservation Management Plan risks the creeping of the CBD into this important heritage area;

(vii)     a heritage study, responding to community objections to the modifications, recognised that the proposed modification conflicts with the Conservation Management Plan;

(viii)    the City did not seek to consult with residents regarding their submission to the proposed modification;

(ix)      the City’s submission to the proposed modification fails to express serious concerns about the heritage impacts of the proposed height increase;

(x)       residents have expressed concerns with the praise of the “careful balance between minimising heritage impacts, whilst achieving the practical and functional needs of the school redevelopment” offered in the City’s submission to the proposed modification; and

(xi)      residents have expressed concerns with the City’s acceptance of the heritage impact of the proposed modification expressed in its submission;

(B)      the Lord Mayor be requested to:

(i)         urgently write to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes detailing concerns about the non-compliance with the Conservation Management Plan, height of the proposed modification and threat of this proposal to the character of Millers Point; and

(ii)        urgently write to Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell requesting the current proposal be withdrawn and an alternative proposal in line with the Conservation Management Plan and character of Millers Point be considered; and

(C)      the Chief Executive Officer be requested to submit a revised objection to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, noting strong community concerns about modification and supporting National Trust advocacy about the protection of heritage in the Millers Point area.

Variation. At the request of Councillor Thalis, and by consent, the motion was varied, such that it read as follows –

It is resolved that:

(A)      Council note:

(i)         the NSW Government has submitted a modification to the approved State Significant Development (SSD) application for Fort Street Public School to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) in late March 2021;

(ii)        residents have expressed concerns that the City’s submission to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment about the proposed modification does not sufficiently address the heritage and height impacts created by the proposal, to the detriment of the Millers Point area;

(iii)      on 10 August 2021, the Lord Mayor met with the Millers Point Community Resident Action Group (MPCRAG) to listen to their concerns about the proposed modification, among other issues;  

(iv)      the proposed modification would result in additional height to part of Building J that exceeds the height of the heritage-listed Meteorology Building, which is inconsistent with some of the guidelines contained within the Conservation Management Plan (CMP);

(v)       the original proposal received nine objections while on public display, the modification received 85 objections from 93 submissions;

(vi)      the National Trust’s strong objection to the modification as the plans “will have a major impact upon one of the most significant and historically important parts of Sydney” and “the addition of an extra floor level and the increase in scale and bulk goes against all previous planning and heritage advice for this sensitive, State Heritage Listed location”;

(vii)     objectors are concerned that inconsistency with the Conservation Management Plan risks the creeping of the CBD into this important heritage area;

(viii)    while the applicant’s heritage study, responding to community objections to the modifications, recognised that the proposed modification is not fully compliant with all the individual guidelines of the Conservation Management Plan, there are some inconsistencies to achieve good outcomes for different heritage elements;

(ix)      it is not practicable for the City to consult with residents prior to making submissions to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment about all state significant proposals due to the limited time given to make a submission;

(x)       on 13 August 2021, the Lord Mayor wrote to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces about the concerns raised by residents and the National Trust with a request he investigate ways for the bulk of Building J to be reduced so their concerns can be appropriately addressed alongside the important heritage considerations of the proposal. The letter also recommended his Department meet with community groups when plans for major government projects are lodged for assessment so their issues can be discussed openly and addressed as early as possible; and

(xi)      a copy of the Lord Mayor’s letter to the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces was sent to the Minister for Education with a request for her Department to work collaboratively with the City, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and the community for better outcomes on the project; and

(B)      the Chief Executive Officer be requested to:

(i)         arrange for the City’s Heritage and Urban Design Manager to urgently convene a meeting with the Millers Point Community Resident Action Group and the National Trust to discuss their concerns about the proposed modification and how the design of Building J could be amended to address them; and

(ii)        provide the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment with details of the outcomes of that meeting, including any suggested design amendments to reduce the visual bulk of Building J for their consideration prior to a determination of the modification application, and offer to meet with them to discuss it, if required.

The motion, as varied by consent, was carried unanimously.

S129266

Report author: Erin Cashman

Publication date: 16/08/2021

Date of decision: 16/08/2021

Decided at meeting: 16/08/2021 - Council

Accompanying Documents: