Bold New Vision for Kensington and Kingsford Town Centres – 4th March 2016

A barrage of recent high rize development proposals has seen Greens Councillor Murray Matson suggest that Randwick Council offer a $300,000 prize for the best “strategic planning mission” for the Kensington and Kingsford town centres.

Cr Matson also wants the winning vision to recognise that Kingsford and Kensington will be the likely local government and administrative centre for the new Eastern Sydney Council entity after the state government pushes through amalgamation with Woollahra and Waverley Councils.

He elaborated,

“These non-conforming high rize proposals are going to the Joint Regional Planning Panel for approval and are bypassing Randwick Councillors. The only way we can control them is to tighten up our zoning controls. Plus we should be looking at the opportunity to declare that Kingsford and Kensington will be the new local government centre for the eastern suburbs.”

The threatening development proposals range from 41.5 metres to 85 metres in height despite the current Council limits being only 12 to 25 metres.

So far the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) has only narrowly refused the first two on the Council’s advice.

“The JRPP based its decision on Council’s position that increased density should be based on a review of the whole town centre and public transport catchment, with consideration of urban design, rather than be restricted to the context of individual development sites” (Council report 23rd Feb. 2016)

But further refusals may not be guaranteed with the JRPP strongly advising that “Council should review and update its planning framework and controls for the centres in a timely manner”. The view amongst Councillors is that they are on the verge of losing strategic control over the two centres if they are not seen to be updating their planning instruments.

Councillor Matson said that the Council had to respond to the JRPP’s criticism or see the panel start to approve non-conforming height proposals. His ambitious motion stated that the final strategic planning mission should seek to make the two town centres “… subject to the world’s most cutting edge planning and development standards in terms of:

  • Administrative capacity;
  • Beautiful, visionary and functional architecture based on Ecological Sustainability and living building concepts;
  • Striking street visages open to urban forest and large scale green wall possibilities;
  • Balanced commercial opportunity;
  • Open space enhancement;
  • A sense of place, identity, history and social cohesion;
  • Mobility;
  • Infrastructure, educational and entertainment provision; and
  • Overall Liveability.”
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