A new Development Application for the Vision Land’s planned development of the Bidura site has been lodged with the City of Sydney. The DA is described on City of Sydney’s website as a:

… stage 1 development application seeking approval for building envelopes for a residential development. The proposal includes retention of heritage item ‘Bidura’, demolition of the Metropolitan Remand Centre, building envelopes to accommodate a 7 storey residential apartment building with 73 apartments and a 2 level basement, and 9 x two storey plus attic dwellings, and associated site works including tree removal.

Vision Land’s proposed Stage 1 DA building envelope. (Source: Development Application, City of Sydney website)

The DA documents can be viewed at the City of Sydney website (https://online.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/DA/IndividualApplication?tpklapappl=1302419), and can be viewed in person at the Glebe Neighbourhood Service Centre.

The DA will be on exhibition until 19 June and submissions can be made until that time.

The Glebe Society has lodged the following submission:

Shannon Rickersey
Planning Department
City of Sydney

19 June 2017

Dear Shannon,

This site is of great importance to Glebe Point Road, and to the City and State of NSW, as the home of the Colonial Architect, Edmund Blacket. It also has significance as the home of William Perks, Lord Mayor, and later the site of the Bidura Children’s Home and Court. It is a Heritage Item under LEP 2012, and will probably soon be a State Heritage Item, as this higher grading appears to have universal support. It is an important element in the Glebe Point Road Heritage Precinct, itself one of the most prominent Conservation areas in the City.

Bidura was the subject of a previous DA that was rejected by the Land and Environment Court in 2016. One reason it was rejected is that the proposed new development at the rear was too prominent, and detracted from the Heritage Item and the Conservation Area. The Society believes this is best resolved by limiting any new development to five stories, as required by DCP 2012, and that in any case it should not be higher than the existing Remand Centre. The LEP height limit of 27m was imposed by the State Government without consultation, and is inappropriate.

The present setting of Bidura, with a large garden, carriageway and mature trees fronting Glebe Point Road is also very important, and part of the Item. As such, both buildings and the setting should have Conservation Plans to ensure complete restoration and maintenance, and there should be a Landscape Plan that includes suitable fencing and heritage plantings. The rear of the buildings is also important, and there should be sufficient setback to enable them to be viewed from the rear. It may be necessary to remove and reconstruct the stone wall along the northern boundary.

As the future use and ownership of Bidura is unknown, there needs to be a written agreement guaranteeing permanent public access through the site between Glebe Point Road and the new development.

As far as the new development replacing the Remand Centre is concerned, it is important the amenity of surrounding residents is protected. There are residential properties very close to the proposed apartments, and the Court was rightly concerned their privacy and solar access should not be compromised. Council should ensure this is the case not only with the completed structure, but also do what it can to ameliorate impacts during demolition and construction. This will span a considerable period, and nearby residents have expressed concern at the potential noise and disruption that will be worse than is the case with developments which are not so hemmed in and where access is not so restricted.

Hence, although this is a  Stage 1 DA, we ask Council to set guidelines that will need to be following during demolition and construction, such as hours of operation and access routes for heavy vehicles. It is not uncommon for such sensitive sites to have detailed information and regular consultation available to residents, and for a hotline to be established to deal with complaints. The Society notes the provision of a basement turntable to reduce the impact of garbage trucks on the narrow lanes.

Council should also require a comprehensive landscape plan for the new development that includes sufficient open space for the new residents. The development should also be as sustainable as possible, including solar access and solar power and the collection and recycling of stormwater.

There is no mention of affordable units. If the City’s policy permits it, they should be provided.

This is an area where parking is at a premium. Council should ensure the maximum level of parking for both residential and commercial uses is provided onsite, as well as for bikes of various kinds, and actively discourage new residents from using on street parking, as has happened with other new developments in Glebe. The surrounding roads are narrow, and may require some sensitive readjustment.

The previous DA suffered from inadequate presentation. The provision of accurate perspective drawings to show the impact, not only on the Heritage Items, but also on the surrounding streets, is an important element in ensuring the residents are properly informed. Council should insist on the highest level of visual information.

Yours faithfully
Neil Macindoe OAM
Planning Convenor