Image: Artist's impression of planned development in Dulwich Hill which will see residential areas re-zoned. Photo: Inner West Council.
By ERIN MODARO
Community groups are speaking out after the Inner West Council (IWC) released new plans for re-zoning and development in Marrickville, Dulwich Hill and North Ashfield. The latest plans are part of the ‘Our Place Inner West’ strategy by the IWC; additions to the portfolio of high-rise developments planned on train lines by the NSW government.
The IWC released Urban Design and Heritage studies in relation to the developments late last month, and have given the residents and the community until September 25 to provide feedback.
A Save Marrickville spokesperson told City Hub that “many residents” are worried about proposed 8 storey buildings along Illawarra Road and Petersham Road, along with “suggested pockets that accommodate up to 12 storeys”.
“If you have ever walked down these streets you will know that they are narrow. We are worried that the re-zoning may turn Marrickville Town Centre into a cold and windy canyon” the spokesperson said.
“Once the fabric of a suburb is changed by rezoning it can’t go back.”
Save Marrickville also said they are “disappointed by the lack of heritage protection for Marrickville”. The spokesperson said they would like to see more thought given to heritage protection for Marrickville Town Centre and shops in the area.
“We are not against development” the Save Marrickville spokesperson said.
“We are fighting for reasonable heights, sympathetic and sustainable design of new buildings with an allocation of genuine affordable housing tied to a NFP housing provider”.
Inner West Councillor Justine Langford said that she received many phone calls from concerned residents who are “expressing shock, alarm and distress at Council’s proposal to rezone their homes into high-rise”.
Last month Cr Langford attended a drop-in info session as a part of the IWC’s ‘Local Planning for Local Communities’, and found that locals “turned up to voice their strong opposition to the proposal”. She also attended a community meeting in Dulwich Hill held on September 2, and encountered similar sentiment towards the proposal at this meeting.
“People do not want their homes demolished,” Cr Langford told City Hub.
“They love where they live and don’t want to lose their homes and their community. They also don’t want to live in a construction zone.”
Council consultation comes under fire
Dulwich Hill based community group Save Dully voiced similar concerns over re-zoning and development in their local area. Additionally, they believe the consultation period given to residents to understand the Urban Design Study and the Heritage study is insufficient, and are calling for the feedback period to be extended.
“The engagement has been really poor and inadequate” President of Save Dully, Liz Locksley, said.
Locksley said that many residents were informed their homes were going to be re-zoned under the new proposal through a post card from the IWC being dropped in their letter box.
She said that it would have been “more helpful” if Council had “written directly to those people who are most affected by the proposal”.
Locksley explained that “not everybody has the time or inclination to download quite complex documents”.
Locksley says that Save Dully has found residents are concerned over community impact that the developments will have, saying residents “enjoy living in the area, because they know their neighbours, they’ve lived there a long time, then [they are]… feeling that it’s all going to change”.
“We want more time for everybody to consider this, we want more face-to-face opportunity for people to meet and talk to Councillors, and talk to Council staff.”
She said that she is “appreciative of the leadership” that Council has shown in relation to their work on “the low-carbon precincts”.
Save Marrickville expressed similar concerns over consultation, telling City Hub “it is crucial that as many members of the community understand what is being proposed”.
In response to community disappointment with the short consultation period, Cr Langford will submit a motion at the next IWC meeting requesting that ‘Have Your Say’ is extended for an extra month, until October 25.
She also recommends in her motion that council send letters to residents who will be affected by “increased growth or heritage conservation”.
“Council needs to ensure that all residents are properly consulted, with plenty of time to consider these proposals and provide input” Cr Langford said.
“Community needs time to catch up and get across it all.”
Council confirms consultation period will be extended
The IWC responded to City Hub’s questions over concerns about the consultation period with a statement from Deputy Mayor Jess D’Arienzo, saying that council will extend the consultation period for the Urban Design and Heritage Study.
“Councillors have heard requests from the community that an online survey should be extended until the end of October, and this will be approved at next week’s Council meeting” Cr D’Arienzo said.
The Deputy Mayor also said that the IWC has not drafted or voted on any initial plans for the developments.
“I want to assure residents that no decisions have been made and nothing is set in stone,” Cr D’Arienzo said.
She pointed to the state government’s housing targets which must be included in the development plans.
“The Liberal State Government has imposed housing targets on the Inner West and Council is legally required to consult with the community on how to accommodate them.”
Cr D’Arienzo said that an “extensive and lengthy” consultation process between residents and the IWC is currently underway, with more drop-ins and online webinars planned in the near future.
A Dulwich Hill resident herself, Cr D’Arienzo said that she loves “the character and history of the area”.
“The best way residents can help to find that solution is to actively engage with the process.”
The IWC will send recommendations to the Department of Planning following the consultation process before another feedback period begins. These processes are estimated to take place until the end of 2023 or early 2024.