One of Double Bay’s trademark arcades has been targeted for a $25.4 million development of 21 units and ground floor retail. This is the latest of a number of development plans put forward in the area, which residents say will jeopardise the unique low-rise character, which is both a local and regional attraction.
The Bay Village Arcade at 28-34 Cross Street will go before the Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel on October 4. Woollahra Council has invited members of the public to attend these meetings, they can register to verbally present a summary of their submissions before a decision is made.
Senior Communications Officer for Woollahra Council, Matt Frillingos, said: “Council advertised the development applications to public for comment. Residents with concerns regarding these development applications had the opportunity to make submissions by way of objection. These submissions were taken into account in terms of merit assessment by Council’s planning officer, and tabled in a report to the Sydney Eastern Planning Panel.”
The land is now owned by SJD group, led by by Shanghai-based developer Shi Jiandong, who bought the land for $45 million.
SJD is already building apartments at 20-26 Cross Street, the “1788 residences”, being sold off the plan by Ray White Double Bay.
Documents submitted to Woollahra Council say the proposed arcade development “is of a height and scale that achieves the desired future character of the neighbourhood” at 21.21m high, the building is over the height limit of 14.7m.
In addition to this, developers set their sights on 55 Bay street, to build a seven level mixed retail tower.
Another six-storey 20.3 million development proposal, at 21-27 Bay street, is also over the height limit at 21.6m. It is comprised of 23 units plus ground floor retail. Current tenants of the site include The Bridal Atelier and Smarta Laundries.
Vice president of Double Bay Residents Association, Malcolm Young, said there a variety of factors that pose a threat to the area: “Views will be lost both from existing residences and from those of us on the surrounding amphitheatre who look across the Centre to the Harbour. A number of these pending development applications also reduce the commercial business space in the Centre replacing it with units from 1st floor up to the detriment of employment and services in the area.”
Double Bay has experienced the lowest retail trading period in decades following the loss of 200 office workers from the village. Council responded to this with a move to prevent developers from cutting commercial space in favour of more profitable residential space.
Mr. Young said: “Such development so close to the harbour is contrary to the general planning principle that you put higher buildings on ridges, not on the flat where they impede views.”
Development in the Double Bay Centre is controlled by the Woollahra Local Environment Plan of and the Woollahra Development Control Plan.The area has a height limit of four storeys, five storeys for certain sites. There is also in place a floor space ratio of 2.5:1. These controls were subject to community consultation before they were finalised.
A petition was put to Council by 410 residents and over 70 residents from surrounding suburbs to stop an increase on these height and bulk controls.
Mr Young Said: “Our association opposed and continues to oppose development applications which seriously breach these controls. Sadly, some were passed by the last Council, contrary to staff recommendations for refusal. If that trend were to continue, instead of the Centre having a sunny, strollable village character where people like to sit at a pavement cafe in the sunshine and shop in specialty shops, its lanes and streets will become a dark, windy and soulless place surrounded by six and seven storey buildings.”
Mr. Young argues that there are also technical reasons why the development would be a detriment to the area: “Parking in and around the Centre is a nightmare for residents. Traffic through the Centre towards and from the city is a snarl. All these new apartment blocks should certainly provide for the parking needs they generate, but therein lie the technical problems about excavating in the Centre. The subsoil contains acid sulphates which are a danger to both person and property. Furthermore the Centre has an aquifer running under it which generates a water table only just below ground level.”
On June 14, The Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel recently refused a seven-storey apartment building proposed for the corner of Bay Street and Guilfoyle Avenue. The building would have housed 39 units, with space for 33 parking spaces. It was refused as it did not comply with height controls and that the loss of commercial use would be detrimental to the Double Bay Centre.