More high-rise for Hurstville?

by Philippa Clark

A Development Application is now on public exhibition (if you are in a position where you can attend the Kogarah Council customer service centre during business hours – they don’t put these things online) for the site of the old ATO building in Hurstville. That’s the one opposite the police station on Greenbank Street, bordered by the railway line and Woniora Road.

From Google Maps.

I didn’t know about any of this until I was contacted during the week by a South Hurstville resident who had received notification of the proposal from Kogarah Council in his letterbox. On Wednesday I checked out the DA, which looks like this:

Usually boxes contain more exciting things, like pizza or Christmas presents.

Kogarah Council could definitely do better on transparency here. The documents should be available to those who can’t come to the customer service centre during business hours – which is a lot of people. Surely it wouldn’t be too hard to put them on the council website.

The developer is proposing two commercial tenancies on the ground floor, a “community facility” which is a park with some play equipment and BBQs, and a total of 384 apartments in 1, 2 and 3 bedroom iterations. There are 420 car spots and 135 bike spots for residents, and 79 car spots and 20 bike spots for public use. The buildings will be 11 and 18 stories high, and at its highest point the development will be 63.5 metres.

The good:

  • At least it’s not an eyesore. Hurstville doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to good looking buildings *cough* salmon pink *cough*, but I breathed a (small) sigh of relief with this one. [See picture below.]
  • It has plenty of car parking (the minimum requirement is 299 spots; this has 420) plus lots of bike space. Also, according to the modelling contained in the DA, traffic volume is projected to decrease if this site moves from commercial use to residential use.
  • It includes a park with kids’ facilities and BBQs, and plenty of trees.
  • It’s a stone’s-throw to the train station. If there ever was a place for high-density living in St George, this is probably it.

The bad:

  • It’s just too tall. In this context 11 stories might be justified – as a maximum – but 18 is quite ridiculous, considering the shadows this building is going to cast. [Pictures of the shadow diagrams in the DA are below.] Ironically, the Kogarah New City Plan which the community has been fighting back against in recent times will, if implemented, rezone this site to a limit of 39 metres, which is hardly a bungalow, but at the moment there is no height restriction at all and a 63.5 metre tower is within the rules.
  • There are no solar panels! Surely in this day and age they are common sense? The building will have a big flat roof, ready to soak up the sun.
  • There’s no social or affordable housing component. Other councils require developers to reserve a certain percentage of their floor space in any given development for affordable housing. With a housing affordability crisis in full swing, it’s about time Kogarah got on board with this.
  • What about local services? I feel like we have this discussion every time a new apartment block gets built but nobody has solved the problem yet. The schools in the area are already some of the biggest in the state.

So, the verdict? A thumbs down for height and sustainability. I’ll be lodging an objection to this DA.

If you want to lodge an objection, do so by October 30:

Think of all the things it could be. It could be concrete. It could be pink. It could be pebble-crete like that emergency services building next door.

What are your thoughts about this?