A large number of residents raised concerns that the proposed modifications would adversely change the character of the area, in particular as a result of the additional density and building height.
One of the key challenges when considering the impact of the Modification on the 'character of the area' is that the majority of the Concept Plan site is yet to be developed. It is therefore problematic to identify how the 'character' of a developing area is actually defined.

There is the potential for the community to compare the existing low density residential character in the broader area with selected parts of the proposed Modification, which can appear to represent a significant change. It is therefore necessary to refer to how the concept of „character‟ was addressed in the original Concept Plan approval.

In approving the original Concept Plan in 2012, the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) determined that the then proposed changes to the density, height, built form, land uses, and urban structure at Shell Cove would be an appropriate outcome for the future development of the area. Accordingly, the delivery of the Concept Plan as approved will result in a change in the character of the area.

For the purposes of the assessment of the proposed Modification, it is appropriate to assess these changes against the approved change in character, not the existing or historical character of the area. As noted previously, the general objection to the change in character was connected with the proposed increases in height and density and the perception of what effect that would have on the area.

Whilst there is an overall increase in the number of dwellings (in the order of 25%) there are a range of factors that explain how the additional density is consistent with the character of the area.
The Concept Plan site is approximately 100 hectares and divided into 10 precincts. The proposed modification seeks to distribute the additional dwellings across the Concept Plan site so that the impacts of those additional dwellings are also spread across the site. Further, the additional dwellings are located in the most appropriate locations to accommodate additional height and density. Table 1 below illustrates that the actual increases in height and dwellings are relatively minor when viewed on precinct by precinct basis.

Table 1 Summary of additional height and dwellings by Precinct Precinct Increase in maximum permissible height* Approximate Additional dwellings

Precinct Increase in maximum permissible height*   Approximate Additional dwellings
 A  no change  -6
 B  2 storeys  33
 C  1 storey  12
 D  2 storeys  60
 E**  No change  108
 F & G  No change  40
 H  No change  71
 Boat Storage  No change  0
 Business Park  No change  0

* Only occurs in selected parts of the Precinct
** The area of Precinct E has been expanded

The built form strategy in the approved Concept Plan was to provide mid-rise apartments in the Town Centre, low to mid rise apartments and/ or terraces on the waterfront, dropping back to lower density terraces and houses further away from the waterfront. The proposed Modification seeks to amend the housing typologies and form within each Precinct to accommodate the proposed additional dwellings. However, it does not seek to alter the approved built form strategy and retains the same fundamental principles, and therefore built form character. The following discussion describes the proposed modifications to the typologies and form within each Precinct in further detail.

Residential Precincts A-C, which are the Precincts where development has already occurred within the Concept Plan site, will accommodate the lowest number of additional dwellings, minimising the impact of the changes on the character of those areas. The additional increase in height of 1-2 storeys only occurs along the waterfront of those Precincts closest to the boat harbour where the dwellings receive significant amenity as a result of their access to views and open space. As the Concept Plan allowed for 4 storey apartment buildings in these locations, an additional 1 – 2 storeys will have a negligible impact on the character of the form along the waterfront. It should also be noted that a large part of Precinct A is proposed to have a reduction in height from 3 storeys to 2 storeys + attic which will reduce the built form at the periphery of the Boat Harbour Precinct.

Precinct D is the Town Centre, and therefore appropriately accommodates one of the most significant increases in the number of dwellings and height. The additional height and density, is consistent with the key principles that underpinned the design and character of the Town Centre, as expressed in the original Concept Plan, which included:

  • Building heights will generally decrease the greater the distance from the Town Centre and/or Boat Harbour.
  • The hotel will provide a visual landmark.
  • The hotel‟s location is slightly removed from Main Street where building heights are less, and the site enhances views to the Marina.
  • The hotel is narrow in width and the architectural language complements the coastal condition of the surrounding built form.
  • Key anchor points and/or street corners will be reinforced with higher built form, vertical elements and/or distinctive architectural features.
  • Civic buildings will be of distinctive form and architectural quality
  • A supermarket will be located in close proximity to Main Street and Harbour Boulevarde but will be sleeved by retail activities which have direct street frontage.
  • Apartments will be provided with private open spaces, courtyards, useable balconies and deck spaces in accordance with SEPP 65.
  • Residential development on medium density and standard lots will adopt a housing typology consistent with the coastal condition of the Precinct.
  • The articulation of residential and commercial facades will be achieved by the use of mixed external cladding materials and sun-screening elements.

Furthermore, no change is proposed to the architectural “character” as expressed in the Concept Plan, which is for:

A contemporary coastal village materials palette will be adopted and will include the use of raw materials such as timber, stone, off-form concrete, rendered masonry, cor-ten, monochromatic brick, profiled metal sheet and glass. Lightweight roof forms using metal roof claddings are also proposed. The array of built form will maintain a shared character through the use of some common elements.

It should be noted that under the Concept Plan 4 storeys can be built across the entire Town Centre. Whilst the Modification does seek to increase the height in parts of the Town Centre up to 6 storeys, large parts of the Town Centre are proposed to have a reduction in height to 2-3 storeys, thereby creating a more varied and interesting built-form. The two blocks where 6 storeys are proposed, front the hotel, retail uses and wetlands, and therefore have no interface with existing residential areas.

The increase in height of the hotel building from 9 to 11 storeys will not result in a perceptible difference in the character of the Town Centre, noting it would always have stood as a taller building in its context.

Precinct E has the most significant increase in the number of dwellings. This is because it includes the introduction of the, 'northern land;'which increases the site area and therefore the number of dwellings the Precinct can accommodate. The second reason Precinct E accommodates an increase in dwellings is that the townhouses that previously fronted the wetlands, the furthest point from the existing residential areas, are now proposed as apartments to a maximum permissible height of 4 storeys. These apartments mirror the apartments that are approved on the other side of the wetlands, but step down in height to create a transition with the medium density and low density areas further north, which remain as approved in the Concept Plan. It should also be noted that parts of Precinct E will have a reduction in height from 3 to 2 storeys and from 4 to 3 storeys.

In a manner similar to Precinct E, the increase in dwellings in Precincts F and G is the result of the medium density dwellings fronting the waterfront being replaced with residential flat buildings to a maximum height of 4 storeys. These apartments are consistent with the other apartments already approved around the boat harbour and both Precincts retain the transition of medium and low density residential uses north towards the existing residential areas without increasing the maximum permissible building height which remains the same as the Concept Approval. Similar to Precinct E, it is proposed to reduce the height on certain land from 4 to 3 storeys within Precinct F and from 3 storeys to 2 storeys + attic in Precinct G.

In Precinct H the housing typologies are generally consistent; however a large part of the Precinct will be reduced in height from 3 storeys to 2 storey + attic. The maximum building height of 4 storeys remains the same; however a larger area will be able to be built to 4 storeys, allowing for more dwellings.

In summary, the proposed Modifications will not result in a perceptible change in character when compared to the approved Concept Plan as:

  • the approved built form strategy has not changed;
  • the additional density is spread across the site;
  • where additional density and height does occur it has been limited to small parts of the site in locations away from existing residential areas;
  • the majority of the site will remain low to medium density
Character assessment report

Click here to view specialist independent reports on the specific issues identified in the responses to the submissions.