Woollahra Council’s plans to encourage mixed-use developments and increase building heights in Double Bay’s Cross Street has been met with community backlash following last month’s elections.
The Cross Street planning and urban design strategy – which “seeks to maintain and enhance the existing unique character of the precinct” – has raised alarms in the eastern suburbs following concerns that the village atmosphere on Cross Street may be compromised under the new plans.
The strategy sets the new maximum height for building developments up to six storeys (21.5 metres) and recommends reducing car parking rates for studio and one-bedroom apartments to encourage active transport. Plans for Cross Street comes after overdevelopment was pushed a key election issue last month, with Residents First Woollahra – who earned five seats on council – running their campaign against overdevelopment in Double Bay and Edgecliff.
“The current building controls which permit four storeys with some five-storey corner gateways have stood the test of time,” Residents First councillor Mark Silcocks told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“The danger now is that we have the domino effect of a series of one-off six-storey approvals without any holistic town planning principles or overall vision for the future of Double Bay.”
Moderating building heights has also been proposed to “maintain and improve solar access” for Cross Street, which has been a point of emphasis in the area over the past decade.
Cr Silcocks, who retained his seat in Woollahra’s Double Bay ward, called increases in building heights a “travesty of justice” and said that the “community clearly wants and enjoys a low-rise village atmosphere”.
The strategy also suggests a site amalgamation pattern for non-residential and retail uses, which would “ensure the creation of more efficient floor plates for future development”. The amalgamation pattern would minimise vehicle and service entrances, provide functional retail floor spaces on ground floor levels and maximise active frontages. Site amalgamation suggested in the strategy maintains that it should “reflect the existing fine-grain/humane scale urban context”.
Land use patterns
The land uses of Cross Street are consistent with the proposed site amalgamation pattern, with the strategy detailing the importance of “a balance of business, retail and residential uses” for the overall success of the area.
The proposed land uses are also consistent with the NSW government’s regional and district planning strategic approach, whereby it is stated that “housing should not compromise a centre’s primary role to provide goods and services, and the opportunity for the centre’s employment function to grow and change over time”.
The main characteristics for future development on Cross Street include retail use on the ground floor level, non-residential developments on the first floor and residences on upper levels.