Scaled back multigenerational community development proposal now allowed to proceed

LONDON: After a massive residential development was rejected, a planning authority has decided to allow a scaled-back version.

Developer EG Funds Management’s project, on the former Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children site, proposed more than 1000 dwellings including units and detached townhouses, along with an aged care centre, community centre, library, village green, cricket-sized oval and six parks.

Some apartment blocks on the site, to be called North Rocks Village, is mainly surrounded by free standing houses in R2 zoning, would have reached nine storeys under the initial plans.

Parramatta Council has long opposed the plans which the Sydney Central City Planning Panel also spurned because of the lack of infrastructure and overdevelopment of the leafy neighbourhood.

However, this month, the has decided to give the proposal the green light – with a string of recommendations before a revised proposal is lodged with the state government for gateway determination.

Blocks should be capped to three storeys along North Rocks Rd site while the dwellings on the eastern and western sides are to be no more than two storeys to fit in with the R2 zoning. The remaining 34 per cent will be open space and calls for public spaces, parks and bushland areas to be retained for public use.

The nine storeys will drop to five storeys and affordable housing will be included.

Ultimately, the state government will determine the fate of the project.

Panel members said the “increased importance” for housing to be delivered across the state and nation meant it unanimously supported the development.

The panel also agreed the project met housing targets, was close to public transport and services, had the potential to provide affordable and seniors’ housing and was close to Parramatta CBD.

Under the revised plan, EG must also prepare a report on housing affordability.

EG’s urban and community planning divisional director David Workman said it was reviewing the panel’s “constructive suggestions” on design and meeting the district’s urgent housing needs.

“EG has always been committed to providing a genuine diversity of housing to meet the current and future needs of North Rocks and we believe our vision aligns seamlessly with both the council’s and government’s goals, offering a vision of a vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable community for the future,’’ he said.

Independent Parramatta councillor Georgina Valjak welcomed the panel’s recommendations to restrict heights.

“I am encouraged that the panel has taken council’s concerns into account and has agreed with council that the original proposal must be changed before it can proceed to gateway determination to ensure that the bulk and scale is reduced significantly,’’ she said.

“I continue to share council’s concerns regarding the traffic issues and impact on local schools which are of utmost importance to residents.’’