Item 7.3 - Attachment 1
The Parramatta Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2001 and the Parramatta City Centre LEP 2007 both define a place of public worship as a: “…building or place used for the purpose of religious worship by a congregation or religious group whether or not the building or place is also used for counselling, social events, instruction or religious training.” The draft Parramatta LEP also adopts this definition. PPWs typically take the form of churches, temples or mosques and are currently permissible in most residential and business zones with the exception of the Residential 2E zone.
Currently, the Parramatta LEP 2001 limits the seating capacity of PPW in the residential zones to a maximum of 250 people. There are no development controls currently for PPW within the Parramatta Development Control Plan (DCP) 2005 other than the generic controls relating to streetscape, building form and massing, solar access, parking and accessibility and other relevant matters.
On 23 March 2009, Council resolved to prohibit PPW within the R2 Low Density Residential zone within the draft Parramatta LEP. This change in policy direction has been ratified by the NSW Department of Planning through their certification of the draft Parramatta LEP for public exhibition purposes. Council made a further resolution at its meeting on 28 September 2009, as follows:
“That the CEO prepare a report to the Council, as a matter of urgency, on a draft development control plan (DCP) for Places of Public Worship based on the proposed controls to be included in the City Wide DCP as discussed at the workshop with Councillors. This report should consider how the draft DCP can be applied as Council policy until the DCP is finalised.”
Council considered a report at its meeting on 19 October 2009 attaching a draft PPW DCP and resolved as follows:
“(a) That Council adopt for public exhibition for 28 days, a draft development control plan (DCP) for places of public worship as outlined in Attachment 1 with the following alterations:-
1 Item 3.1b to apply to all existing development applications;
2 Item 3.5 Design principles to include the comment that for all new developments, basement and at grade parking must be provided;
3 Item 3.5 Design Principles to include an additional viii to read: “viii. Any new development must be to predominantly serve the local community and have a maximum capacity of 250.”
(b) That the matter, including any submissions received, be reported to Council following the exhibition of the draft DCP for final consideration and adoption.
(c) That the draft DCP be applied as Council policy until the draft DCP is finalised.
(d) Further, that Council officers contact all places of public worship to obtain feedback on this change.”
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT CONTROLS
The main controls within the draft DCP are as follows:
· Applications for PPW will be subject to the same height, floor space ratio and envelope controls that are applicable to the predominant land use in the zone. For example, a PPW proposed within a Residential 2B zone will be subject to a maximum floor space ratio of 0.6:1, height of 2 storeys and an envelope applicable to a town house development. The purpose of this control is to ensure the bulk and scale of PPW are compatible with the character of residential areas. (Note: This approach is consistent with the mechanisms within the draft Parramatta LEP which apply both the floor space ratio and height controls to land rather than building types.)
· Any proposal for a PPW is required to have a maximum capacity of 250 people and must predominantly serve the local community. This control reflects Council’s resolution of 19 October 2009.
· A noise impact assessment statement is required to be submitted with all applications excepting applications for minor modifications or alterations to existing PPW.
· For all new development or intensification representing a capacity of 50 persons or more, a traffic impact statement is to be submitted with the application. This statement shall, amongst other issues address the number of car parking spaces required. Basement or at-grade parking must be provided for all new developments.
· An operational plan of management must be submitted with all development applications in order to provide certainty for both the consent authority and the local community about the ongoing management practices to be employed by the proposed use to manage its impact upon the neighbourhood.
The draft DCP was publicly exhibited from 11 November to 11 December 2009. A notice was placed in the local newspapers and a letter of notification was sent to fifty-six (56) Places of Public Worship within the local government area. Five (5) submissions were received, all from representatives of local church groups. The issues raised by submissions are described in detail in the table included as Attachment 3. The submissions all object to the draft DCP and share similar concerns. The main objections and a comment in response are summarised below:
1. The limit on size of a PPW to 250 people is arbitrary and unreasonably limits the size of a congregation and the ability of a church to host special events such as weddings and funerals.
COMMENT: A maximum limit of 250 seats currently applies under clause 42 of Parramatta Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2001. This clause currently only applies to residential areas. It is considered that applying the maximum limit to all land use zones through the DCP is unnecessarily restrictive particularly when Objective 3.1 of the DCP is to “limit and manage the impacts of places of public worship on the amenity of residential areas.” It is recommended that the DCP be amended to reflect the control within the LEP and as such would not apply the maximum limit outside residential areas. It is considered that this change would provide a better balance between preserving the residential amenity of neighbourhoods and providing the community with opportunities for religious worship.
2. The maximum limit would prevent a church from growing in numbers and the draft DCP does not recognise the contribution that churches make to the well-being of the community.
COMMENT: As discussed above, it is recommended that the draft DCP be amended to remove the maximum limit from all land use zones other than residential zones. Larger PPW are considered to have unacceptable impacts on the amenity of low density residential areas, however, there are opportunities for PPW that grow beyond this size to locate in other land use zones where the impacts will not be felt so acutely.
3. Limiting PPW to those that serve the local community is a form of discrimination as there is no such limit on other land uses such as shopping centres and hotels etc…
COMMENT: The reference to a requirement to serve the local community is problematic as it is difficult to define the local community and anecdotal evidence suggests that PPW attract worshippers on a broader congregational basis rather than an immediate geographic one. As such, it is recommended that Design Principle P.4 be amended to reflect the clause within the LEP 2001 by applying to residential zones only and removing a reference to the local community.
4. Applying the DCP to existing PPW is a diminution of existing use rights.
COMMENT: Existing use rights are a legal entitlement conferred under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. An “existing use” is specifically defined by the Act as a land use which lawfully existed at the time of gazettal of a new LEP which prohibits the use. The contents of a DCP do not alter existing use rights which effectively allow those uses to continue operation and are able to apply to Council for alterations and additions subject to the existing use rights legislation and other relevant Council controls.
5. The requirements for the submission of a traffic impact statement and a noise impact assessment would be costly and onerous and beyond the means of non-profit organisations such as churches.
COMMENT: Non-residential land uses in residential zones have the potential to cause significant disturbance to the amenity of a neighbourhood. In this regard, the requirement for a noise impact assessment is comparable to the requirement for an assessment under the Child Care Centres DCP. There may be cases where the assessment is unnecessary and Section 4.3 regarding acoustic privacy notes that consideration will be given to exempting this requirement where the application is for a minor modification to an existing premises.
With regard to the requirement for a traffic impact statement, this is only required where the application proposes a new PPW or intensification of an existing centre representing an increase of 50 or more persons. The threshold of 50 persons for requiring the statement is consistent with the DCPs of other Councils including Bankstown City Council and Wollongong City Council. Council’s Manager, Traffic and Transport has confirmed that the requirement is appropriate and noted that the level of detail required would be appropriately matched to the circumstances of the application.
6. The requirement for the submission of an operational plan of management is unreasonable and doesn’t allow sufficient flexibility in terms of timetabling religious services.
COMMENT: The preparation of an operational plan of management does not require specialist qualifications and as such, does not involve significant cost. Further, it is critical for Council to gain an understanding of the likely impact of the proposal on the surrounding area and to make a proper and thorough assessment of the application. It also provides the PPW with an effective tool for managing its own impacts and to assist it with being a “considerate neighbour”.
7. The DCP should not apply to places of public worship within schools as they tend to have sufficient infrastructure to cope with the numbers without impacting on the amenity of residential areas.
COMMENT: As discussed above, it is recommended that Design Principle P4 be amended to reflect the wording within Clause 42 of the Parramatta LEP 2001. This would remove the maximum limit of 250 persons from applying to schools which are zoned Special Uses 5under the current Parramatta Local Environmental Plan 2001.
8. As the DCP applies to places of public worship ancillary to an educational establishment, all non-government schools should have been notified.
COMMENT: This comment is taken on board and as such, it is considered appropriate that future notifications relating to POPW include all non-government schools in the local government area.
9. The draft DCP should not apply to industrial, retail and commercial zones.
COMMENT: As discussed above it is recommended that Design Principle P4 be amended to reflect the wording within Clause 42 of the Parramatta LEP 2001. This would remove the maximum limit of 250 persons from applying to land use zones other than residential zones.
10. It is unreasonable to apply the same floor space ratio to churches as would apply to a dwelling in the residential zone.
COMMENT: It is considered appropriate that PPW be subject to the controls applicable in the relevant zone. This is a common planning approach and is embedded in the standard LEP template where the floor space ratio and height controls apply to the land, not the land use type.
11. The requirement for car parking is unreasonable particularly when schools are not required to provide car parking for parents.
COMMENT: The car parking demands from parents dropping children off at school cannot be compared with the car parking demands from the congregation of a church. Further, the draft DCP does not prescribe the amount of car parking required which can be determined on the merits of the case, as informed by the traffic impact statement.
The draft DCP is included with this report as Attachment 2. The changes that are recommended to the DCP are shown on this attachment as “track changes”. The reasons for the recommended changes are discussed below.
Maximum capacity limit of 250 people
A maximum limit of 250 seats currently applies under clause 42 of Parramatta Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2001. However, clause 42 of the LEP differs from the draft DCP in that the LEP clause only applies to residential zones and does not make reference to a requirement to serve the local community. The purpose of the existing LEP clause is to preserve the character and minimise impacts on the amenity of residential areas.
The draft DCP in its current form goes beyond the LEP clause in applying the maximum as a limit within all zones and makes reference to a need to serve the local community. It is considered that applying the maximum limit to all land use zones through the DCP is unnecessarily restrictive particularly when Objective 3.1 of the DCP is to “limit and manage the impacts of places of public worship on the amenity of residential areas.” Rather, applying a maximum limit in residential areas only would encourage new developments of large PPW into non-residential areas where they will have less impact on the character and amenity of the local area.
Further, the reference to a requirement to serve the local community is problematic as it is difficult to define the local community and anecdotal evidence suggests that PPW attract worshippers on a broader congregational basis rather than an immediate geographic one. As such, it is recommended that Design Principle P.4 be amended to reflect the clause within the LEP 2001 by applying to residential zones only and removing a reference to the local community.
The draft DCP includes a clause (1.6) which is referred to as a “Savings Provision”. The role of a savings provision is to “save” applications lodged before a certain date from the effects of a new instrument. However, the intent of the clause is to apply the DCP to all development applications (including those lodged but yet to be determined) as soon as the DCP comes into effect as required by Council’s decision on 19 December 2009. As such, this clause is recommended to be renamed “Application of this Development Control Plan”.
On 23 March 2009, Council resolved to prohibit PPW within the R2 Low Density Residential zone within the draft Parramatta LEP. This change in policy direction has been ratified by the NSW Department of Planning through their certification of the draft Parramatta LEP for public exhibition purposes.
The draft Parramatta LEP is supported by its companion document, the draft comprehensive Parramatta DCP. The draft comprehensive DCP was adopted by Council at its meeting on 14 December 2009 with an additional resolution that it be updated prior to exhibition to incorporate the same controls as the stand-alone DCP for Places of Public Worship. However, the controls in the stand-alone DCP for Places of Public Worship can not be carried over verbatim and would require some modification to reflect the controls within the draft Parramatta LEP. Most notably, it is recommended that Design Principle P.4 setting the maximum seating limit of 250 in residential zones be excluded from the draft comprehensive DCP due to the proposed prohibition of PPW in the R2 Low Density residential zone. This would have the effect of removing the maximum seating capacity limit from the medium and high density zones which are considered to be more appropriate zones for larger PPW due to their more accessible locations and higher density character.
While the draft Parramatta LEP is not the subject of this report, it will represent a change in policy direction regarding places of public worship within the low density residential zone. This change will impact upon the same stakeholders affected by the stand-alone DCP for Places of Public Worship. As such, it is recommended that the notification for the draft Parramatta LEP and DCP extend to all places of public worship and non-government schools within the local government area.
Once adopted by Council, the Draft DCP for Places of Public Worship would take effect upon the publishing of a notice in the local newspapers. The DCP would then be applicable to all development applications for places of public worship, regardless of whether they were lodged before the date of the DCP taking effect.