Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meeting with Bencorp regarding Kurrajong Village Development

Summary Notes of Meeting with Matthew Bennett (Bencorp)
Monday 10th May 11.00am (Kurrajong Village)

Present Matthew Bennett (Bencorp), Michael Want (NRDCAA), Mary Buckett (HCW), Lyn Griffith (Resident), Suzanne Smith and Barry Lester (KHAG).

It was acknowledged by all present, that this meeting was proposed to discuss the Bencorp Development issues arising from the Public Meeting, facilitated by Kurrajong Forum Inc., held on April 15th, CWA Hall, Kurrajong Village, Matthew Bennett from Bencorp was invited to discuss the proposal. Michael Want tabled an agenda with the group, who agreed that summary notes of the meeting be supported by all present and circulated to the wider community, Kurrajong FORUM, KHAG, NRDCAA, HCW, other relevant local interest groups and within the Kurrajong Village precinct itself, (shopfront window).

Matthew advised there had been a good response from the community with approx. 43 emails and other forms of communication from local residents, business and community organisations. He stated there were some great ideas regarding designs and possible uses. Matthew confirmed he would collate in a summarised form this information, without specific names. These would then be circulated to the community via the Kurrajong Forum Inc. and above group members. It was believed the Gazette had received approx 120 emails and letters re the proposed development.

The ownership of Bencorp was not addressed other than the proposed development is owned by Bencorp Property Developments. It was suggested Bencorp owner’s review the Kurrajong Community Survey 2005 taking into consideration the objectives presented, with specific references to Questions 2,3,6,8 and 10b, and acknowledge community concerns expressed.

Question 1. In relation to the existing streetscape, would greater consideration be given in the design process to the scale, size, materials, and concept of the proposed development.

a) Design of building Current eco-design concepts are proposed in the construction of ‘The Market’. Matthew stated the ‘overall design would predominantly conform to the eastern side of the street’. He stated the ‘Sassafras’ building had been referred to by numerous members of the community, as an example of a suitable concept, style and design. The roof is proposed to be colorbond material and the pitch of the roof an ongoing discussion with the consultants and architect, to maximise the solar panels that are proposed, to capture east/west movement of the sun. Double-glazed glass could also be used at the rear of the building. At this stage a weatherboard style material, glass and timber is being considered for the balance of the building, with concrete foundation and stone face on the lower level if the theatre was to eventuate.

b) The scale and size of the building on the half acre site would be approx.700 to 800 square metres, with a frontage up to the Council corner triangle, at the intersection of Old Bells Line and Timms Hill Road. It was pointed out that HCC LEP states buildings in this residential zoning are not to exceed 200sqm per title for “neighbourhood shop” use. Matthew advised that the block was subdividable into a minimum of 4 lots, a total of 800sqm (4x200sqm) of ‘neighbourhood shop’ use. Or alternatively, 4 individual residential homes with no size limits, could be built on the site. It has been noted that the updated July, 2009 LEP, page 18, refers to specific objectives of the Hawkesbury Rural Village Zoning (a to g), with (c) enabling development for purposes other than residential, if they are compatible with the overall character of the village. It was pointed out that there is no overall design, size or consistency in style and or period within the village centre. Bencorp’s aim is to keep within the overall character of the eastern side of the street, being Seasons, Wrapt, Sassafras and the former Toque. (Refer to notes, Question 5. Zoning)

C) The façade should be in keeping with surrounding buildings and overall streetscape.
Matthew stated the façade will be designed based on the results of feedback received during the review process. The proposed plaza will incorporate an alfresco dining area and room for Hawkesbury Harvest. It is proposed that this area will retain the existing gum tree, and a children’s play area, with parental supervision. Suitable planting of the façade area would be undertaken.

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Design continued. Interesting design suggestions for the NE corner of the building would be welcome and to-date the community ideas have varied from sweeping outdoor terrace area for the restaurant to all glass and stone double storey feature revealing the bookstore and everything in between. A floor plan redesign was suggested by a number of respondents, to re-position the restaurant to the rear of the building. A double glazed glass area would allow for noise reduction, natural lighting and wonderful vista, from the main area of the building.

Question 2. How would the 7 proposed businesses be incorporated into the internal design structure.

a) Open Plan Market Layout. Matthew stated the internal structural design would be open plan, with possibly recycled steel or timber beams. Consistent with ‘The Market’ concept, the individual businesses would create a flow through effect, as opposed to individual boutique shops off an arcade.

b) Art House Theatre possibly seating 100, would offer viewings of classic and contemporary art movies. This would also incorporate a stage, suitable for live performances, musical events, local school presentations and plays, dance schools and theatricals, such as the Arcadian Performers, along with Workplace Training Presentations. The Theatrette if considered viable would be located at the rear of the building. The back wall is of concrete material with sandstone face. Bencorp are reviewing feasibility of this venue, along with the position in the building, although it has been deemed the most popular in feedback received to date. It is perceived as supporting, both proposed and existing businesses in Kurrajong.

c) The Restaurant is currently not designed to be at the rear of the building, but feedback after the community meeting, suggested the restaurant be positioned to take advantage of view potential. Sound acoustics including double glazed windows is being assessed and as stated above, this would also allow for natural lighting.

Question 3. Any proposed new businesses should as far as possible be different but complimentary to, existing village businesses.

a) Specialty shops such as a Artisan Bakery, Gourmet Deli/Provedore, Specialty Bookstore, Alfresco Licensed Restaurant with small bar area, Specialty High Tea House, Theatrette, Bank and Hawkesbury Harvest Markets are proposed at this stage. Fresh local produce shall be sought where and when possible.

b) Duplication of businesses. It was agreed by those at the meeting, that businesses under consideration for ‘The Market’, are complimentary and not a duplication of current business operations within the Village. Matthew on behalf of Bencorp, was asked to guarantee the type of business, within the development for a period of 10 years. Some members present at the meeting felt that this was not realistic or appropriate, as other businesses and/or landlords in town do not have the same constraints. Matthew confirmed Bencorp would be seeking complimentary business ventures at this stage. There is no proposal for supermarket, tavern, butcher, bottle shop, chemist, hardware, newsagent, hairdresser, nursery or video store in the development.

Question 4. Drainage issue, in particular properties below the development

a) Eco-design & New Technology resolutions to recycle and retain most water on site. The site steepness, rainwater catchment, with such a large roof area and water usage requirements, are all under consideration with Bencorp’s consultant and eco-design resolutions are being sought. Matthew stated that ‘The Market’ would use rainwater and current best practice re-cycling processes, to assist in water retention. Tanks for this purpose would be installed, with access to town water top up, once on site storage drops below a certain level during drought times. Appropriate tree plantings at lower edge of property would also be considered. The initial consultant’s reports are positive in handling all potable water and wastewater issues. Matthew noted that any DA submitted will address these issues adequately and within Council guidelines.

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Question 5. Zoning anomalies and design compatibilities, both physical and economic

a) Zoning/DA As stated in Question 1b) it is noted that the property is subdividable into a minimum of 4 lots. The LEP document was referred to and a DA maybe sought, if the development is considered in keeping with and maintains the rural character of the village, ensuring the buildings are designed in sympathy with the overall streetscape. Design compatibility, choice of materials, position and style of the building, colour, access roads, landscaping and on site water catchment are taken into account. The LEP document states new development should not create unreasonable economic demands for the provision or extension of public amenities or services. Matthew stated that Seasons, Wrapt, Alexanders, Sassafras, former Toque and Crazy Daisy all operate under a residential zone. Matthew confirmed that any DA that Bencorp eventually submit will be considered approvable under the relevant planning instruments.

b) Options Matthew stated Bencorp had looked at a number of development options available to them, including, 4 individual homes, town house development, shop top housing, professional chambers, cafes, motel, B&B etc. A recent visit to America has prompted the Oxbow Discovery Market concept, with businesses all under one roof and a flow of customers from one to the other. Both local and tourist patronage is envisaged in the long term.

c) Anomalies Matthew stated Council have noted there are anomalies in the zoning within Kurrajong Village, with the eastern side operating commercial enterprises in a residential zone.

d) Easement / Carriageway A question was raised in relation to a carriageway or easement on the proposed development site, appearing on old maps. Matthew stated that the easement had been erased sometime ago. A request was made that Matthew forward correspondence confirming this. This information has now been provided and the easement confirmed non-existent.

Question 6. Noise

a) Acoustic expert Questions were raised by members of the group in relation to noise emanating from ‘The Market’ Centre, including air conditioning and refrigeration, restaurant patronage, external balconies and eating areas, theatre, car park and delivery services. Matthew advised that an acoustic expert was examining all aspects of noise. He confirmed the use of double glazed glass where necessary and any other insulation requirements to reduce noise from within the complex, as recommended by the consultant in the design stage, will be implemented.

Question 7. Traffic and parking is of significant importance to the project and within the Village

a) Proposed on site parking Matthew stated a parking and traffic consultant was advising Bencorp and is of the opinion they can manage most of their delivery and patronage parking on site. An under-building car park is incorporated into the development plan and this will comply with current council requirements. Discussions with the consultant are on going and will be modified to suit the end design and uses.

b) Current Parking and Traffic within the village A member of the group suggested that business owner’s and residents through the Kurrajong Forum, seek further advise from council in relation to existing parking and traffic issues for the benefit of the town, as it is a council responsibility. It was noted there are areas within the village that should be reviewed and up-graded, facilitating extra parking and loading area compliance, required to meet current operational business needs. An area sited as suitable for up-grade was Timms Hill Road to Drummond Road, which would provide more parking for businesses on the weekend and additional parking for the school, during their peak times. Matthew confirmed that if the town were to approach him with alternative parking options that were of benefit to all businesses and residents, he would consider a funding contribution as part of the development proposal.

Bencorp is considering all feedback received to date, with some group consultations on-going. A further Kurrrajong Village Community Meeting is proposed before final DA submission in June/July.

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