Australian Unity, please do not build units on playfields at Lane Cove

TimeLine of Events


  • May 2007 - The council ignored and misrepresented the IRIS research residential survey (May 2007 – attachment 10 of the Major Projects strategic plan 2007 -2016 pages 86 - 88) which shows that while a minority 38.8% had some support for developing community land and open space, it was ONLY for already developed, parking or used for infrastructure (page 88). 266 Longueville Road was recreational land used as play fields.
  • Mar 2014 - Commissioner Eric Armstrong (rezoning public hearing Mar 2014) recommended “deferral” until 12 conditions were met. This included an “assessment of whether the site was required for future recreation use” (sec 17.2), several outdated plans were updated, a financial feasibility report provided (sec 17.7), and these re-exhibited (sec 17.8). Following which the hearing could be resumed, or a new public hearing held (sec 17.9). All public submissions opposed the proposal. The report also highlighted the lack of community trust of the council and issues raised related probity and due diligence (Sec 14).
  • The council shut down the public hearing; ignored the recommendations and resolved to re-zone the land a week after the report is releasedAll 6 Liberal councilors at the time, voted in favor. All others voted against this action (17 Mar 2014). 
  • Mar 2015 - The council removed the “Bushfire Prone” zoning to enable seniors’ development on the land and to increase the footprint by removing asset protection zones. The new boundary was set such that the developer did not need to observe the Rural Fire Services (RFS) requirements. The RFS subsequently reviewed the development application and determined that the property is bushfire prone, and should comply with bushfire regulations (RFS letter dated 4/6/2918). Australian Unity has decided to proceed ignoring RFS recommendation.
  • Aug 2015 - LCC deceives the public by defining height restrictions and step-down built form exhibited in all community consultations, as provisions in the site-specific Development Control Plan (DCP), which are not legally binding, thereby permitting gross overdevelopment to maximise profits.
  • (Secret Contract 2016?) The council signs a lease agreement with Australian Unity at a premium price of $32M; 60% above $20m value stated at public hearing page 18; feasible only based on overdevelopment. It is structured such that the payment is made only on approval of the Development Application (DA), where the council as the assessing authority is able to shepherd the DA, and the Sydney North Planning Panel (SNPP) is the consenting authority. Australian Unity takes on no risk until consent of the DA.
  • June 2018 - AU seeks SNPP consent for a gross overdevelopment DA which rises at the center instead of stepping down the incline, and around 50% of the building non-compliant with built form specified in the DCP (June 2018). The number of units increased from 65 to 150.
  • LCC appoints “independent” assessor who is on the LCC payroll and ignores public objections to the lack of arm’s length separation. The assessor was a council appointed member to its Local Planning panel and was already on the council payroll for other work.
  • July 2018 - “Independent” assessor falsely reports that the DA Floor Space Ratio (FSR – a fundamental planning control of density) is compliant and recommends approval of DA. The false details are brought to the attention of the SNPP by public engaged consultant. LCC continues to ignore public objection to assessor.
  • Despite assessor recommendation to approve DA, Sydney North Planning Panel (SNPP) defers determination requesting changes, the requirement to comply with FSR, and more information.
  • May 2019 - The updated DA is exhibited to public, but not presented to the SNPP, because the Site Compatibility Certificate (SCC) had expired.
  • May 2020 - Planning NSW reviews updated DA and issues a detailed Site Compatibility assessment report which recommends adding a height compatibility clause. The SNPP then issues Site Compatibility Certificate based on this report, with a legally binding height compatibility and built form clause, thereby rectifying the LCC deception in the DCP referred to above; and effectively rejects the DA.
  • Oct 2020 - AU letter to Planning NSW states that “Effectively, this determination is tantamount to a refusal or a total redesign, potentially rendering the project non-viable." (29 Oct 2020); which supports the notion that the initial contract price was based on LCC authorizing overdevelopment. AU decides not to seek consent for the new DA putting the LCC $32m in jeopardy.
  • At this point all independent parties other than council questionable appointees agree that the DA is incompatible for the location. Councilors inform the public that it is unlikely to proceed as Planning NSW is not in favor of high density seniors complexes.

This is when the rogue activities commence…

  • Nov 2020 - LCC appoints its executive manager environment services who oversaw this project, as its representative to the SNPP.
  • Mar 2021 - LCC sends letter to Planning NSW stating false information contradicting the department of planning assessment report and stating, "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." (18/3/2021). A significant breach of ICAC regulations and lack of regard to the impact to the public of an incompatible development.
  • Unknown to the public, SNPP revokes the SCC of May 2020 and re-issues a SCC without the height compatibility clause for the very same DA (June 2021). A gross compromise of integrity.
  • Australian Unity, in full knowledge of devastating impact to neighboring properties; now proceeds to seeks SNPP consent.
  • July 2021 - The “Independent” assessor advises council that; although DA was last exhibited 2 years previously and several new key documents such as the SCC assessment reports had been subsequently issued; there is no need for it to be re-exhibited for public comment. SNPP then gives public 2 wks notice of public meeting, on a matter dormant for 2 years; preventing public from engaging professional assistance.
  • Sept 2021 -The SNPP chairman, who presided the first public meeting, declares possible conflict of interest, and is a no show. The SNPP subsequently provides consent.