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‘Windswept, polluted wall of development’: Council’s plans for north shore village spark concern

Cr Baker said the plans appeared to be motivated to significantly increase building heights and residential apartments along an “already severely overburdened” road corridor.

“This planning, if it proceeds, will destroy the scale and nature of the already constrained Neutral Bay village and will fail to deliver any real public benefits including increased and new green space,” she said.

Joseph Hill, the council’s director of city strategy, said the planning study sought to manage “development pressure” and minimise the impact on the suburb’s village atmosphere.

“Under current legislation, developers are able to bypass Council with their development aspirations directly to the NSW government,” he said. “Having a firm vision framework also places council in a stronger position to reject inappropriate development proposals.”

An artist's impression of Neutral Bay under the Military Road Corridor Planning Study.

An artist’s impression of Neutral Bay under the Military Road Corridor Planning Study.Credit:North Sydney Council

Existing planning controls have allowed residential development at the cost of existing commercial space, Mr Hill said. “Carefully targeted taller buildings allow council to negotiate for more publicly accessible space, eg plaza or community facilities, which create places for the community to connect and strengthen the village atmosphere.”

But Cr Baker said increased building heights were “totally unnecessary” as the council had already delivered medium-density developments that met targets set by the state government.

“It will create a windswept, polluted wall of development along Military Road,” she said.

Traffic-choked Military Road cuts through Neutral Bay, but Mr Hill said the NSW government’s proposed Beaches Link tunnel would divert traffic to the northern beaches.

However, the tunnel has been criticised by North Sydney mayor Jilly Gibson, who said it will have a negative impact on the North Sydney CBD.

Neutral Bay Village store owners oppose the proposed removal of a shipper car park.

Neutral Bay Village store owners oppose the proposed removal of a shipper car park.Credit:Nick Moir

Changes to planning controls have to be consistent with the Greater Sydney Region Plan and the North District Plan, said a spokeswoman for the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

The next stage of the planning study concentrates on the area bordered by the Warringah Freeway and Cremorne, which borders Mosman Council.

“Council is mindful that additional housing and jobs growth along the busy Military Road corridor may result in increased demand on Mosman infrastructure, facilities and services,” a Mosman Council spokeswoman said.

The planning study has been questioned by Peter Marshall, chairman of the Willoughby Bay Precinct, who said removing traffic from Military Road would enhance the amenity of the suburb.

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Mr Marshall said in a letter to the council’s general manager that the community group opposed street closures to create open spaces.

“The most effective way to kill a village atmosphere is to surround it by, or replace existing village style (heritage) buildings with buildings of excessive height,” he said.

In contrast, shop owners in Neutral Bay say it is inevitable that building heights will increase along major roads close to the city.

But Dimitri Jannakis, spokesman for the Neutral Bay Village Group, said the council’s plan will mean the loss of a carpark used by shoppers.

“The current proposal serves the interest of a national supermarket chain rather than that of local small businesses and the local community who shop at our stores,” he said.

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