Pathways Residences, please do not build seniors units on our playfields at Lane Cove

Compromised SNPP

The Sydney North Planning Panel has issued 3 Site Compatibility Certificates for this site over a period of 4 years. The 2nd in May 2020, and 3rd in June 2021 were for the very same Development plans dated 2019. This SCC specifically introduced height and built form restrictions which effectively rejected the DA. However, when AU threatens to back out jeopardising $32m lease with Lane Cove Council, the SNPP revoked the 2nd SCC and issued the 3rd having removed the height restriction, and proceeds to approve the 2year old DA, as proposed.

Considering that neither the DA nor the surrounding property uses have changed, the public considered this as highly irregular and a compromise of the independence and integrity of the panel. A petition signed by 132 residents was presented to the chairman of the SNPP requesting that the height clause is re-instated.


The recreation play fields lie between 9 low-density and 38 medium/high-density residences and the two fields are tiered due to the incline of the land. Therefore, the site specific LEP defines height and built form controls to ensure height compatibility with the area, prevent height differential between the low density 2 storey residences 12m to the North, and minimize shadow impact to the residences to the south.

Sequence of event.

On 19/7/2017 AU lodges a DA which is significantly non-compliant with the Development Control Plan (DCP).

On 11/7/2018 SNPP defers its determination requesting changes and more analysis including additional visual impact analysis.

On 23/4/2019 the updated DA is lodged and still remains significantly non-compliant with the DCP.

In May 2020, with the benefit of the updated visual impact assessment, Planning NSW issues a Site compatibility certification assessment report which recommends a height compatibility clause similar to that defined in the DCP. Effectively recommending that the DA is rejected. The report is endorsed by Malcolm McDonald, Executive Director, Eastern Harbour City.

Based on the recommendation, SNPP issues a Site Compatibility Certificate (SCC) with stricter height controls than the DCP (i.e. limiting 5 levels against the golf course), which effectively rejects the DA. Clause 1 states.

  • To achieve a building height compatible with surrounding land uses, the built form of any future development application on the site relying on this SCC is to meet the following requirements:
    • a) Not exceed two storeys to Longueville Road;
    • b) Appropriately respond to the topography of the site, and have a maximum height of five storeys at the rear; and
    • c) Contain all habitable floor space so as not to exceed the maximum building height standard prescribed 

Australian Unity does not proceed to seek SNPP consent. It states (letter of 29/10/2020),

"Effectively, this determination is tantamount to a refusal or a total redesign, potentially rendering the project non-viable."

The planning process had prevailed, protecting the 46 surrounding families, the conservation zone, and the future senior residents.

However, it also jeopardised the $32m to LCC which led to the following events,

In Nov 2020, the Executive Manager Environment Services at LCC resigns and is immediately appointed by LCC to the SNPP.

In Dec 2020 AU re-applies for an SCC with the very same DA lodged back in 23/4/2019.

On 18th Mar 2021 a Council letter to DoPE states,

Council supports the amendment proposal and raises no objection to the issue of an amended SCC, which should include deletion of 1(a), 1(b) and 1c and any other amendments to facilitate the development as proposed." (where 1(a), 1(b) and 1c are the height compatibility clauses).

In May 2021, there is an unendorsed /anonymous addendum to the SCC assessment report that on spurious grounds recommends the removal the height compatibility clause.

In May 2021, SNPP revokes SCC and issues a new one without a height clause, and on the 6th Sept 2021 proceeds to give consent to a 28 month outdated DA.