By Lauren O’Connor
The rezoning of an industrial area on Victoria Road, Marrickville to allow for high-density residential housing is causing contention between the council, locals and State Planning department.
The Victoria Road Precinct is 36 hectares of industrial land in the middle of Marrickville and has been functioning as a site for business, construction, transport logistics and creative startups.
Spokesperson for activist group Marrickville Community Planning Collective Eva Johnstone said residents of the inner west should write to council opposing the rezoning.
“The department of planning have rejected it and the council have decided to ignore that and push it through which puts the council officers in a really difficult situation because they are now suddenly required to lobby on behalf of the proponent,” she said.
“All this is happening in the middle of a community consolation which again the council have decided to ignore the findings of.”
Johnstone said the landowners Danias Holdings failed to complete an Employment Lands Study or consult with Sydney Airport about high-density housing in it’s flight trajectory.
“First of all this is a very valuable industrial area and should be retained as such, secondly, certain parts of it are in a flood zone, other parts of it are under a flight path that is so low it’s dangerous,“ she said.
Through an amendment to the formal planning process called the ‘Gateway Process,’ which was introduced in November last year, Marrickville Council has accelerated the site’s rezoning.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment wrote to council on December 16 requesting the proposal be withdrawn.
Their website said the recommendation was made because the proposal did not provide sufficient information to proceed to the Gateway Process.
“The precinct does present strategic merit and could be considered for renewal, including opportunities for future job and dwelling growth,” it read.
“Ideally, renewal of the precinct should be considered as part of a broader strategic planning process.”
But Marrickville Independent councillor Victor Macri said he is in favour of the rezoning because the precinct is in a good position to support housing development.
“I support the rezoning. Basically it’s an area that’s fairly dysfunctional and as we’re looking towards increased density of population it fits into a lot of NSW Government Strategies,” he told City Hub.
Clr Macri said he hoped for a ‘de-intensification’ of the industrial area into a mixed-use precinct which combines small business with housing.
“It’s on a public transport corridor, it is an area that really needs to be rejuvenated, it’s very tired and old.”
“Wherever we can pacify the area and give something back to the community we’ve got to seriously look at it. We have to look at things in context and what the benefits are,” he said.
Greens Councillor Max Phillips voted against the proposal when it was first introduced. He said neither the community nor the Greens categorically oppose rezoning but cautioned against implementing mixed-use zoning.
“But that ‘mixed use’ was really high density residential in disguise, essentially it was the bottom floor could be a café or a convenience store and above that you’d have six or seven storeys or more of high density residential,” Clr Phillips said.
Under the proposal limitations on building height and housing density will be eased. Clr Phillips said the precinct being both commercial and residential might cause conflicts “in terms of, smells, lights, hours of operation, truck traffic and parking.” There is a ministerial directive that prohibits building under flight paths without extensive consultation with the Airport authority.
“That’s what our own planning staff said to council, they analysed and assessed the developers plans and said ‘there’s some major issues,’” he said.