A development application for apartments at the junction of 4 Delmar Parade and 812 Pittwater Rd, Dee Why, is set to proceed, after the construction scheme was approved by the Sydney North Planning Panel.
However, users of neighbouring Stony Range Botanic Garden are concerned that parts of the bushland site will be overshadowed by the proposed high-rise, stating that picnic areas and native flora will be shaded by an eight-storey building for significant periods of the year, threatening the survival of trees and plant life.
A spokesperson for Stony Range Volunteer Advisory Committee, which, along with Northern Beaches Council, oversees the management of the 3.3 hectare public garden, told Manly Observer, “We are not trying to stop the development, merely to reduce its negative impacts on Stony Range…”
The spokesperson elaborated: “The main concern is the picnic/bbq area, which will lose all its sun in May, June and July and be partially shaded in April and August. These are very popular times for people to gather in the sun for a picnic or bbq (when the beach is less appealing for many).
“The other area which will be impacted is just inside and to the west of our main gate. This area contains a stand of Queensland Tree Waratahs, which is a prominent feature of the Garden. This tropical species will lose most or all of its morning sun from April to August. It is a threatened species but, because it is not a NSW native, it is not protected by NSW legislation.”
The spokesperson explained that the Stony Range Committee had a good working relationship with Council, however, they had “concerns about the application process” for the $60 million dollar housing development adjacent to their northern perimeter.
Specifically, that “consultation with us was very lacking and that the Council should have made some effort in 2022 to ensure that users of the Garden generally were aware of the development.”
What will the development bring?
The apartment construction project is being overseen by the Landmark Group. On the developer’s webpage, the ‘Casa Delmar’ project is described as:
“LUXURY APARTMENTS COMING SOON. Construction is well underway on the first stage of Delmar Dee Why and stage two is in the final stages of planning and design.”
This reporter visited the site as recently as 4 August and there was no signs of any construction, let alone being “well underway”, especially as approval for the development was only granted on 17 July.
Landmark continue, “With unprecedented demand for a coastal lifestyle just minutes from the beach, Delmar is a place that reflects all the best attributes of the city and the coast.
“Loved by locals, Delmar is the vision of Rothelowman Architects; a modern architectural form that is an inspired first for this sought-after beach suburb – a compelling fusion of contemporary and coastal Architecture.”
The development, DA2022/0145, which can be viewed in detail on Council’s website here, was first submitted on 15 March 2022, and described as, “Demolition works and construction of a mixed-use development comprising a residential flat building and shop top housing, basement parking, lot consolidation and torrens title subdivision.”
A previous submission by the site developer 13 years earlier, dated 9 July 2009 (which can be viewed on Council’s website here), sought and received approval to remove 15 trees from the 812 Pittwater Rd block. That application was for “construction of a Mixed Use Development, comprising retail shops and shop top housing.”
The updated development now requires the removal of 59 trees, taking into account the addition of 4 Delmar Pde to the construction project.
10 illustrations by Rothelowman Architects showing the shading of the northern and north-eastern sections of Stony Range at different times can be viewed with the Development Application here.
At present, the dual address (812 Pittwater Rd and 4 Delmar Pde) consists of three two-storey buildings occupied by a number of small business/industrial units and the approved DA2022/0145 will result in the demolition of all structures.
Once cleared, the L-shaped site will be excavated to allow construction of a 334-bay two-storey underground carpark topped by two main buildings of varying heights. The Pittwater Rd building will consist of 97 units, whilst Delmar Pde will consist of 122, bringing the total dwellings (three, two and single-bedroom apartments) up to 219.
There will also be four business units – two facing Pittwater Rd, two facing Delmar Pde – for commercial tenants.
What is Stony Range?
Situated between Pittwater Rd to the west, St Luke’s Grammar School and the Officeworks/Fitness First retail estate to the south, and Delmar Pde to the north, Stony Range Regional Botanic Garden was originally part of 151 ‘country lots’ for auction in August 1886 and April 1887.
However, although most of the surrounding allotments subdivided by the Department of Lands north of “Manly Lagoon” (since renamed Curl Curl Lagoon) were purchased, the four lots that became Stony Range were not bid on.
Later, the reserve was set aside by the NSW Government for a quarry, as part of an Act of Parliament (the 1884 legislation for Management of Crown Lands), and in 1912 it was known as Cable’s Quarry from which was extracted basalt and gravel to produce ballast for the Narrabeen Tramway.
After it was abandoned in the 1950s, a group of local residents set about transforming it into a nature reserve, and it was officially opened in 1961 as the Stony Range Flora Reserve.
Northern Beaches Council describes the historic site as “an oasis of Australian native plants… It is famous for its spring floral displays and is the perfect place for a walk, picnic, or intimate functions such as weddings…
“Intricate walkways take visitors to a variety of microclimates. The main circuit takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and in 2013 was extended to include the accessible sensory track – where people of all abilities can experience the Australian bush like never before. Signs along the sensory track point to plants you can touch, taste, smell, and look at, to observe the garden with all your senses. There are also side tracks for the energetic and inquisitive.”
This reporter recently spent an afternoon strolling the bush tracks, for which there are several information points with pamphlets explaining the resident flora and fauna, and numerous water bubblers throughout the park if you’re trekking on a hot day.
Council’s website recommends: “Spring is the best time to view the vivid colours of the garden’s fabulous floral displays. However, the beauty of the garden is breathtaking all year round.
“There is a large undercover area, picnic tables, barbeque and a unisex accessible toilet located within the garden.”
Are amendments to the development possible?
Manly Observer asked Council whether the construction plans could be amended so the new buildings don’t throw shadow on the Stony Range picnic area to the south.
A Council spokesperson replied, “The Development Application was publicly exhibited in accordance with Council’s Community Participation Plan, which included written notification letters to surrounding properties, exhibition on Council’s website and installation of signage at the front of the development site.
“Council has consulted with the Stony Range Volunteer Group and received a number of submissions objecting to the development, which was considered in the assessment and determination of the of the Development Application by the consent authority.
“Whilst the development does cast a shadow over a small portion of the Stony Range reserve, this impact in the context of the wider development considerations was deemed to be acceptable.
“The overall merits of the development were found to be acceptable, with the Sydney North Planning Panel granting approval to the development.
“As a consequence of their approval to the development, there is no opportunity or ability to revisit the height of the development, or the extent of shadow cast on to Stony Range reserve.”
A Stony Range spokesperson told Manly Observer, “For outsiders, the planning process is complex and unclear. From what we can ascertain, it is possible to ask for a review of the Panel’s decision, but we aren’t sure that we are eligible to do that.
“The other possibility is an appeal to the Land and Environment Court. We are seeking advice on what we are able to do within the system….
“Regarding seeking a Council response, we wrote to them, the Mayor and the other two Curl Curl Ward councillors on 13 July with a list of questions, mainly about the consultation process. No reply to our issues has been received yet.”
Stony Range Regional Botanic Garden website: https://www.northernbeaches.nsw.gov.au/things-to-do/recreation-area/stony-range-regional-botanic-garden
Landmark Group were contacted for comment.