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Polo promoter, Peter Higgins. Polo promoter, Peter Higgins. Featured
02 February 2017 Posted by 


Hawkesbury Council to decide rezoning

By Iliana Stillitano

THE eyes of the world’s polo community will be on the Sydney Polo Club in Western Sydney when it hosts the World Championships later this year.

But before then, all eyes will be cautiously fixed on Hawkesbury Council on February 13 when it assesses an application to rezone the Richmond property to allow the event to go ahead.

Council must pass amendments to its Hawkesbury Local Environment Plan (LEP) on the night in order for property owner and local businessman Peter Higgins to lodge a development application to hold the prestigious event.

It could also pave the way for the site to be used for other uses including a microbrewery, medical centre, function centre and veterinary hospital, Mr Higgins said.

However, all of these would be subject to a separate development application process and council approval.

For now, Mr Higgins said he was keen to see the property rezoned to allow for the world polo championships, an event that has the backing of Destination NSW.

The world championship, which will be held from October 17-30, has been billed as a tourism coup for the region and Western Sydney, with 5000 domestic and international visitors expected to spend more than $3 million, Hawkesbury MP Dominic Perrottet said.

“It’s a great win for Hawkesbury (and) great news for local hotels and businesses,” he said.

However Mr Perrottet would not comment on whether there was a risk the event would not go ahead if changes to the LEP were not adopted.

“We’re always talking about the importance of tourism, well this will be the biggest event the Hawkesbury has had in its history,” Mr Higgins said.

“The eyes of the international polo community will be on us. The broadcasting aspect alone is huge – 151 million homes in 54 countries.”

Mr Higgins said he was disappointed the LEP wasn’t changed in 2012 when the opportunity arose.

That is when all NSW councils were given a delegation by the NSW planning department to make spot rezonings – and Mr Higgins said he was informed by council at the time that his property would be among them.

“In 2012 the council said it anticipated the zoning would change but it didn’t tick the correct boxes. Polo was being played in the district for four decades and come 2012, we couldn’t do that anymore.

“I was devastated. I found it unbelievable that council did not do what it said it would.”

Mr Higgins said the current rezoning application was an opportunity for council to “right a wrong”.

Hawkesbury Council’s acting director of city planning, Andrew Kearns, said council had intended, as much as possible, to not substantially change the permissible uses of land when it adopted the state government’s directive in 2012 to standardise all LEPs.

The result, however, was that certain activities that were previously permitted were no longer allowable within certain zones, Mr Kearns said.

“In summary the subject land was not rezoned, however the new equivalent zoning did not permit all of the same land uses as previously applied,” he said in a statement. Full version of the statement appears below.

Mr Kearns said he could not comment on whether council would support the proposal to permit additional uses on Mr Higgins’ property while it was still on exhibition.

Mr Higgins defeated bids by the United States and China to win the hosting rights to the World Championships, an event he said would see up to 60,000 national and international people descend on the district over two weeks.

“People are already booking hotels. The economic benefits will be at least $10 million,” he said. “I hope common sense prevails and this goes through.”

Full statement by Hawkesbury Council’s acting director city planning, Andrew Kearns:

"In 2006 the NSW Government through the Department of Planning directed that Councils were to adopt the new standard planning instruments as the template in preparing a new Local Environmental Plan (LEP) for their local area.
The NSW Department of Planning initiated this Standard Instrument LEP program across all local NSW Councils to improve consistency between all local government areas when preparing an LEP. The first step was for Councils to convert existing LEPs into the state wide LEP template by adopting standardized zonings, definitions, mapping, format and clauses required by the NSW Government.
During the preparation of the standard LEP in 2012 it was Hawkesbury City Council's intent that, as much as possible, the plan would not substantially change the existing land use planning rules and would not make any significant changes to the underlying permitted or prohibited land uses or any changes to the minimum lot size provisions in the City of Hawkesbury.
The adoption, within the controls and limitations imposed under the Department of Planning process for introduction of the standard template however resulted in certain activities previously permitted no longer being permitted within certain zones.
Council is currently processing a planning proposal that seeks to add additional permitted uses on the subject site to allow for the running of the Polo World Championship in October 2017, and other proposed uses. The additional permitted uses include development for the following purposes:
• a) advertisements, advertising structures, eco-tourist facilities, food and drink premises, function centres, kiosks, industrial retail outlets, markets, veterinary hospitals
• b) recreation facilities (major) and recreation facilities (outdoor) for the purposes of polo and equine related activities and events only
• c) not more than one light industry for the purposes of a micro-brewery and with the gross floor area of the light industry being not more than 1000m2
• d) medical centre and with the gross floor area of any medical centre being not more than 300m2
• e) not more than one shop and with the gross floor area of the shop being not more than 200m2
• f) car parks, sewage reticulation systems, sewerage systems, sewage treatment plants, and water supply systems provided these uses are ancillary to the other permitted uses on the site.
In summary, the subject land was not rezoned, however the new equivalent zoning did not permit all of the same land uses as previously applied.
There are a multitude of inputs into the assessment of the current planning proposal including public authority responses, internal departmental comments, and submissions as a consequence of the public exhibition.  Until all of these matters are considered as part of the overall assessment and decision by Council it is not possible to provide comment on whether or not a planning proposal is likely to be supported.
This planning proposal is currently on public exhibition until 30 January 2017 during which time any person may view the planning proposal and lodge a submission with Council."



Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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