On 27 August 2021, I made a submission to Ku-ring-gai Council concerning the Lindfield Hub project. It included the following text.

Council’s Role

… in setting the rules for development, Council need not have regard to the financial viability of projects. That is a matter for developers. Market forces will adjust accordingly.

Council can facilitate development best by setting clear rules and guidelines and being open and transparent in setting and administering those rules and guidelines. Those rules and guidelines should serve the community’s interests, facilitating a good quality of life for people, now and into the future.

When local governments own land they wish to sell or otherwise draw income from, there is a conflict of interests between councils’ interests as landowners and their role as regulators, whenever their role as regulator of that land or nearby land impacts upon their financial returns from the land… I submit that Ku-ring-gai Council must make its role as regulator paramount. It should set the rules for development and land use first, according to community interests, without regard for the impact on the sale value of its landholdings as owner.

Having set those rules in the community interest, Council can then maximize its financial returns, with one exception. Council should not take on the risks of development. It should not presume that it has any expertise in that area, but nor should it defer to developers lecturing Council upon what developers want without questioning. Council can require public use in other buildings… without taking on such risks.

Open Space, Building Heights

I suggest that the benefits of open space on people’s lives are self-evident. The benefits of limiting building heights might not be.

The community and comfort of homes suffer to have apartments overlooking them and their gardens, as we have now in parts of Ku-ring-gai. The heights of buildings become the minimum for future proposals, leading to an endless drive upwards, as we have seen in North Sydney, Willoughby, Ryde, and now Hornsby. …

Tall buildings themselves become places of solitariness. Ideally, no building should be taller than four storeys, as is the case in much of Europe and was the case in much of Australia until recently, because that is the maximum height that allows people to walk up and down the stairs if needed. Buildings of shorter heights can have lifts and many do, but do not need lifts. Buildings taller than four storeys need lifts, and thus depend on electricity supply and building maintenance. People become effectively trapped inside or outside tall buildings during outages or lift failures.