Dear General Manager,

Please find below Byles Creek Valley Union Inc’s submission regarding the:-

Hornsby Draft Local Strategic Planning Statement

Byles Creek Valley Union Inc. supports the North District Plan Directions as noted in this Draft LSPS, “A city in its landscape – Valuing Green Spaces and Landscape”. We MUST value what makes our Shire so special rather than continuing to destroy and then attempting to recreate our landscapes. The time to value, protect and conserve what we already have,is NOW. This is what is being mooted in this document but it must be followed up with change and action.

The very first Key Priority as noted by the Shire’s Community and therefore of this Local Strategic Planning Statement is clearly noted as:
“Expanding our tree canopy cover to enhance the environmental qualities and character of the Bushland Shire”

Byles Creek Valley Union Inc. commend Council for confirming these strong views expressed by the Community and Council in the Draft LSPS Document. They now need to be put into action.

We would like the LSPS to note timelines for the new DCP and LEP amendments which Community consultation strategies being stated which allow input from all.  The Community is distressed by all of the inappropriate development, which seems to be out of the control of Council when Council is the Consent Authority. It is obvious the DCP and LEP must be strengthened to close the loopholes allowing developers to exploit ways to get these inappropriate developments through the Land and Environment Court as is continually occurring. Similarly, as the environment and canopy cover is noted as a High Key Priority, the LEP and DCP MUST have strict objectives and clear controls to ensure all trees (with the potential to grow to three metres or more) are protected. Our existing canopy trees require further protection as offsetting is not working, especially when the Land and Environment Court is using the Draft Green Offset Code to allow the replacement of large old growth trees with grasses and shrubs.

We also strongly support the objective of the Sustainability section, which clearly notes:
“As custodians of our environment we will protect and enhance our Shire”

Our Community has noted the important role of numerous generations who have fought for this very objective since at least the middle of the 1900’s. We now as custodians, still demand our locally significant environment in Byles Creek Valley be protected and enhanced. 

The LSPS Priorities and Actions required for the Shire are perfectly aligned to the protection, conservation, rezoning and / or acquisition of the unique bushland found within Byles Creek Valley, the actions required to do this just need to be specified.



“Our bushland shire is being shaped by our natural environment, population growth, housing and employment opportunities”– Value Statement and Action Statement – the LSPS states land use decisions and strategies MUST be consistent with this statement in future yet this is not happening in reality.
We are concerned that development is not shaped at all by our natural environment – increased development and housing is being pushed through, often by the State Government through the Land and Environment Court, where Council has refused development due to its environmental impact. As a result, the environment is impacted and the population growth becomes the focus rather than the natural environment. There is no point in the State Gov. enforcing Local Planning Panels when their decisions are continually overturned by the LEC. This is costing Councils twice and ending in poor decisions.
Our Open Space  is lacking across the Shire and this is an opportunity to add to the bushland open space areas known to be of great importance for mental health with Sydney and the Shire becoming increasingly more densely populated.

Byles Creek Valley’s unprotected lands must be at the very least rezoned. The Department of Planning has stated in writing that, just as an owner of a site can benefit from a change in zoning, so an owner can sustain a loss from a zoning change, WITHOUT recourse to financial compensation. It is time to stop “looking” at what can be done and actually protect this valley, as has been the overwhelming will of the Community for generations.

“Population growth is driven predominantly by growth in dwelling stock.” 
However, to ensure an area is liveable, it requires infrastructure. The State Government must ensure infrastructure is in place prior to requiring massive increases in development, higher density housing and therefore population growth.

Local Strategic Planning Statements are meant to provide a link between State Government and local Govt. However it appears the State Government is now dictating what Councils must allow regardless of suitability of individual sites. The State Government should allow Local Gov., in conjunction with the Community, to determine: 
·     local areas which should be exempt from SEPPs such as Seniors SEPPs in Heritage Conservation Areas and in Rural lands
·     local areas which are environmentally constrained / Heritage Conservation  Areas and which should be excluded from Medium / High density housing
·     a maximum number of childcare centres/ SEPP developments allowable in each postcode area e.g. 2119 has approx. 10 Seniors/ aged care developments either built or approved. This will potentially result in a disproportionate percentage of elderly / disabled residents in an area where the access to the Beecroft shops is steep, Beecroft station ramp is too steep, there is no railway station lift, there are no facilities at Cheltenham, Epping precinct is also inappropriate access wise, Macquarie Centre is not easily accessible due to having to change trains and platforms and its distance from the station, etc. It would seem these developments are aimed more at profit for the developers using this loophole to build inappropriate higher density housing than it is in helping the disabled and older residents of our Shire. Local Government should be able to address this looking at each area and its suitability especially re Heritage and Rural areas.
·     areas where exempt and complying development are inappropriate and which should be excluded, such as Heritage Conservation Areas and lands containing / surrounding heritage significant items
·     areas where subdivision is inappropriate including areas which contain significant bushland 
·     areas where subdivision is inappropriate due to bushfire prone land requirements from the RFS for APZs. The recent spate of bushfires have confirmed APZs will not stop bushfires, will not save homes and will not save lives, putting the lives of fire fighters at great risk, while these APZ devastate canopy trees and vital understorey
·     areas of mature canopy trees/ wildlife corridor connectivity / high biodiversity / significant vegetation are not appropriate for development if this will reduce connectivity and require the loss of significant canopy cover
·     areas of known habitat for endangered and / or critically endangered species / populations of flora and fauna listed by the State and / or Federal Gov.
·     cumulative impacts on areas of high biodiversity / significant vegetation / watercourses / heritage and act appropriately to stop the ongoing losses
·     potential threats from bushfire and flood from development applications with Council employing experts to assess potential issues at the start of the DA process. Presently it appears the Applicants submit bushfire / flood reports and Council accepts the recommendations, which have been later proven to be incorrect, misleading or erroneous.
·     areas containing a watercourse which must be excluded from development which will not allow for a full buffer / riparian zone. These riparian zones MUST not be impacted by APZs to ensure canopy cover
·     the maximum height of buildings and floor space allowable and link these specifically to the individual zonings to ensure medium density housing, noted as “lacking in the Shire” can be built (in some R3 zoning but not in R2) which does not become unit blocks as is presently occurring due to this grey area in height limit mapping. This would specifically allow the variety of housing Council notes is missing.
·     the Rural lands are protected for threatened and endangered species, the village, green fresh atmosphere and as an escape from busy city density 
·     the subdivision of Rural lands into anything smaller than 2 acres ceases due to the lack of infrastructure and serious traffic issues which already exist, impacting upon all suburbs as commuters attempt to make their way to their non-rural workplaces

The Active Living Strategy has noted a significant lack of open space in the Southern part of the Shire. The Byles Creek rezoning / acquisition and walking track would provide the Community with a much loved asset and increase green open space. Sadly, despite “Expanding our tree canopy cover to enhance the environmental qualities and character of the Bushland Shire” being this policy’s stated first Key Priority, there is seemingly NO mention of Byles Creek Valley nor of any immediate action to provide protection through rezoning or acquisition of Byles Creek Valley unprotected land.


Rural lands

Byles Creek Valley Union Inc. also supports the Recommendation of the North District Plan and the Greater Sydney Commission Plan to preserve our Rural Lands. We want the Rural Lands to:
·     not be rezoned for residential development
·     have no medium density housing
·     keep the current rural character of the village areas
·     protect current agricultural land and farmland by keeping all present rural zonings
·     protect the habitat of threatened and endangered species
·     prevent development on environmentally sensitive lands
·     prohibit removal of any areas of endangered ecological communities
·     maintain old growth forest areas for their fauna and flora habitat values
·     ensure infrastructure upgrades including road, footpaths, water, drainage and electricity are completed prior to any further areas being rezoned for residential subdivision  
·     stop Seniors SEPP housing on Rural Lands
·     encourage tourism to businesses such as small-scale horticultural businesses, cafes, farm stays, etc.
·     recognise that existing traffic congestion is such that additional subdivision will create traffic gridlock during peak traffic periods
·     regulate to ensure farm gate stalls sell only goods produced on the site. This will protect the viability of local businesses in commercial precincts
Byles Creek Valley Union Inc. values the Rural lands in our Shire and should not be subdivided into any lots smaller than 2 hectares, should be protected from SEPPs and medium density developments.

Hornsby Shire contains some special areas in need of conservation and protection. These make Hornsby so liveable, so enjoyable and so desirable. To allow blanket higher density across all areas despite their individual unique features is foolhardy. The State Gov. cannot continue to dictate development in such an ad hoc manner and this is why we have Local Government – to govern what is appropriate working with the local residents and the individual areas of special character and importance to the Community.

Lands containing a watercourse must contain a riparian zone, or one must be rehabilitated as required by the Office of Water and as per Council guidelines. These zones cannot be compromised.



As previously noted, the first of the key priorities listed in the draft Hornsby Council LSPS is the following:
“Expanding our tree canopy cover to enhance the environmental qualities and character of the Bushland Shire”

We applaud Council on recognising this.  It is a crucial priority if we are to protect our environment and reduce the impacts of climate change.
However our very real concern is that this priority appears to be aspirational, rather than practical.
Council acknowledges that ‘The community has a strong preference for maintaining and enhancing a clean, leafy, diverse environment that actively seeks ways to improve environmental sustainability”.  However by its own admissions, this is a long way from being accomplished and this draft plan does not offer strong enough action to attain it.
As noted on P49  of the draft report, Hornsby Shire is losing canopy cover at the rate of 2.5% per year and in a mere 37 years, if this loss continues, Hornsby Shire will have NO tree cover remaining.  This is an appalling statistic in a Shire that currently estimates that tracts of bushland cover 70% of the Shire.
The report notes that this tree loss is mainly occurring on private residential land. And yet, there appears to be no plan suggested to counteract this devastating scenario.
Our Community has noted the important role of numerous generations who have fought to preserve our bushland environment over generations.  Marie Byles is one whose legacy still remains.
We, as the current custodians of Byles Creek Valley, still demand that our locally significant environment be protected and enhanced.  We have no doubt that there are many other communities within Hornsby Shire with similar concerns.

Climate Change: 

Council has expressed a laudable intent to work with State and Federal governments to reduce greenhouse emissions, but all expert international advice is that Federal targets will fall short of the planned Paris targets.  Therefore it is incumbent on individual Councils to do their utmost to support the desires of its residents to lessen the impacts of climate change, and to keep temperatures as low as possible.
The scientific evidence, most recently validated by work done at the Swiss university ETH Zürich, shows that trees/forests are the overwhelming solutions to climate change. Reversing forest destruction and planting more forests will do more to reduce the impacts of climate change, than any other solution.   
We also know that areas with good canopy cover are far cooler than areas without, meaning that there is less need for carbon emitting air conditioners.   Therefore the easiest solution is to stop the destruction of mature trees, as well as expanding the current policy of planting more trees and encouraging residents to nurture and protect the trees they have, as well as to plant more.


Council is to be applauded for the planting of a further 25,000 tress in the Shire.  However this is a wasted exercise if the trees are not properly tended. We would suggest annual audits to discover how many of these trees are surviving to maturity.  And such audits to be made publicly available.
It is also crucially important that old growth trees, on footpaths, on public lands, and on private holdings are not destroyed, as is currently happening at a greater rate than new trees are planted.  These old growth trees will sustain the precious biodiversity in our shire until the new plantings have matured in several decades time.
Byles Creek Valley, to name just one bushland location in Hornsby Shire, is home to hundreds of massive trees that are more than over a century old, with wide spreading canopies, that are in imminent danger of being destroyed for individual housing. Something in excess of 300 old growth trees will be felled to provide homes for just a handful of people if current developments are allowed to proceed.  This equation seems very wrong in today’s environmental climate.  There are other sites in Hornsby Shire under similar threat.
As this report states, Hornsby Shire is home to over 1,000 native plant species and 388 native animal species. The current Biodiversity Conservation Management Plan (2006) lists 26 plant species and 42 animal species as threatened; new and previously unrecorded threatened species have more recently been identified within the Shire – and as already stated we are losing 2.5%  of tree canopy alone each year.  The entire ecosystem must be taken into consideration to stop the appalling loss of habitat and species that is currently occurring. 
Byles Creek Valley supports amazing biodiversity, including threatened and endangered species and provides habitat to a wide range of native flora and fauna. It has one of the cleanest creeks that feeds into the Lane Cove River and provides connectivity to Lane Cove National Park and Pennant Hills Park. Its cumulative losses are destroying these links which this document rightly notes we must protect. Rezoning and acquiring currently unprotected land in Byles Creek Valley, and rezoning it to give it environmental protection, would add over 24,000 square metres to the protected canopy cover in the Shire.
We hope that Council’s forthcoming Urban Forest Strategy will encompass the need to protect bushland and forested areas that are currently in private hands and in danger of being lost to development.  It should also stop further development in high bush fire prone land. 
Finally. It is crucial that all divisions within Hornsby Council, including the Planning Department, work together to ensure that the Bushland, Heritage and Biodiversity of Hornsby is maintained and not eroded and diminished.  This is essential for the health and well being of all residents, human and otherwise.
We also  note that the Sustainable Actions noted in this report refer to the creation of plans and strategies, with no time frames for the actual implementation of such plans and strategies.  Our environment is being destroyed at a rapid rate, as is noted in this draft plan.  Time is running out to take action to halt this destruction.  It would be tragic for residents in 37 years time to see a landscape devoid of bushland.



BCVU Inc. agrees with the North District Plan Direction, which states: “creating a more accessible and walkable city”. We do need to be able to access our homes and move from one place to another in a simple safe manner.  We believe that to achieve this we require:
·     Infrastructure to be put in place prior to rezoning and redevelopment of our towns and cities
·     Planning designed to compliment the character of each area not just ad hoc development in isolation
·     The ability for all to access services – this is presently not happening with many of the SEPPs being constructed with the actual paths of travel required for disabled and the elderly being far too complex and difficult
·     Accessibility for all must be essential across all areas of the Shire
·     The creation of a link to Lane Cove National Park via conservation and preservation of Byles Creek Valley land presently not protected
·     The Hannah St Beecroft shopping precinct needs to be enhanced and present issues investigated as the latest development and access is dangerous, divided and chaotic. The bottom section of Hannah St should be pedestrianized with the section from Beecroft Rd to this section becoming a mere entry to Beecroft Place. This would revitalise and link the wider shopping precinct, which is presently in a state of decline. Lights could be installed at Chapman Rd and Beecroft Rd, which would allow traffic to enter and exit the eastern side of Beecroft without having to drive through the main shopping precinct. It would also increase safety with buses using Chapman and not Hannah (as is presently occurring and was done whilst the Metro line from Epping to Chatswood was being rebuilt).
·     More large street trees and trees in public places to reduce heat, climate change issues but to also beautify our public places
·     Our train service from Beecroft and Cheltenham to the city to be restored to allow commuters access to the main stations in the city without having to walk an obscene and meandering distance to change trains at Central. There is no way there can be a 30 minute trip while this “new” setup exists and it discriminates against the disabled and elderly who could not make these changes due to lack of simple accessibility
·     Our rural lands be protected to ensure the productivity of these agricultural and productive lands is allowed to continue as is recommended for Metropolitan Rural Lands. We need to keep the unique and now becoming scarce, rural and small village atmosphere of the rural lands, which makes them a destination for all escaping the busy city lifestyle. We need to encourage tourism to businesses such as small- scale horticultural businesses, cafes, farm stays, etc. Cumulative subdivision for immediate profit for a few cannot be allowed to override the productivity provided by those working their land for the benefit of the whole community.



The key priorities outlined here are good ones and Byles Creek Valley Union applauds them.
The community is encouraged to participate in Council’s decision making 
Information about Council and its decisions is clear and accessible
However we do have concerns that information, in particular about Development Applications, is not always easy to access and is frequently not available until after decisions have been finalised, thus preventing residents from exercising their democratic right to voice their concerns.



It appears Byles Creek Valley rezoning and acquisition strategy is not in implementation. Whilst it may be included in SA2, develop an Environmental Sustainability Strategy, we would have expected with the intense Community  support over so many decades and the suitability of this project as it addresses the first Key Priority of this document that I would be and should be mentioned, should have Key Performance Indicators and a timeline noted. We would like to see this added to the final LSPS.

Basically Byles Creek Valley Union Inc. agree fully with the Value Statement and Action Statement for this document:
“Our bushland shire is being shaped by our natural environment, population growth, housing and employment opportunities”.  Let’s hope this becomes the basis of all planning decisions in the future and commensurate with this Statement, that Byles Creek Valley’s protection is included as an important, vital and high priority.

Yours sincerely

Byles Creek Valley Union Inc

President: Trish Brown
Vice President and Secretary: Robyn Smith



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