RECOMMENDATION:

Although there was a convincing and valuable representation by some speakers that the land should be used as a cemetery, the valuable contribution of urban agricultural lands should not be underestimated.   The use of part of the land for cemetery purposes may only be a very short term solution for the problem of where to bury the dead.

Under these circumstances it is considered that the proposed rezoning of the land to RU4 may be supported because it is a long term sustainable solution.

Report at this link:

4.0 Public Hearing on all LEP matters 

A public hearing on the draft LEP was conducted on 2nd and 3rd April 2012, immediately after the closing date of the public exhibition period. It was held in accordance with a Council resolution to a Mayoral Minute (MM1/12, 28 February 2012) as an additional forum for the community to express their views on any aspect of draft plan on exhibition and was conducted by an independent consultant appointed by Council.

This hearing followed the principles and intent of a Public Hearing under S68 of the Act, but was not held under that section of the Act. For all statutory requirements in preparation of the draft LEP, see further detail in section 8 of this report.

Independent Planning Consultant

Ms Tina Spiegel was appointed by Council to run the public hearing, given her combined expertise as a lawyer, town planner and mediator specialising in development, town planning and environmental law. Ms Spiegel confirmed that she had no conflict of interest in matters concerning Council in general and in particular matters relevant to the draft LEP.

 Number of Speakers:        Total 22

16 (Day 1) and 6 (Day 2)

 Number of Observers:      Total 33

26 (Day 1) and 7 (Day 2)

Of the total 59 people in attendance, 4 people attended on both days.

Process/protocols

Ms Spiegel established protocols for the hearing (see Attachment 5) that were intended to provided an opportunity for interested people to make oral presentations before an independent person. The process also included an opportunity to ask questions and Council staff clarified facts and explained the planning process and timeframe relating to the draft LEP. Time was allocated for discussion of issues raised, at the conclusion of the speakers.  This was followed by an extensive discussion period on both days. The independent consultant facilitated the discussions, which also allowed opportunity for all to speak including those who attended as observers. Most people who spoke at the hearing also made written submissions and these were provided to Ms Spiegel along with all relevant background planning documents.

SUMMARY OF KEY POINTS MADE AND COMMENTS ON THE FOLLOWING AREAS

1.    Heritage Market Gardens and cemetery expansion

The Draft LEP proposes to rezone the Crown Land currently used for the production of perishable foods and vegetables, known as the Chinese Market Gardens, to RU4 Primary Production Small Lots.

The Gardens are listed on the State Heritage List which recognises their heritage significance.  It has cultural and historical value. Of course, this is only one aspect of the value of this particular urban agriculture in the Randwick Area. There is considerable literature on the value of producing perishable vegetables close to where they will be consumed, ensuring a sustainable and secure source of fresh food for a growing urban population.  The continuing concern is that the growth of the urban areas is reducing the quality and quantity of land available for growing the city’s food.

The some speakers emphasised another need of a growing urban population, that is, a place to bury the dead which is proximate to the places of worship and the community where the deceased lived. The religious, social and cultural traditions of many religions to bury rather than cremate the dead have led to a shortage of land for cemetery or burial uses.

In this negotiation, a balance is being sought between the need to maintain urban agricultural spaces to sustain a growing population in the Sydney area and the historical aspect of urban agriculture and knowledge of our history and need to support the religious and cultural tenants of many religions to bury the dead.

It has been suggested that part of the land, approximately 60% be used for cemetery purposes and 40% retained for urban agriculture.

To understand the consequences of this proposal, consideration and comparison may be given to:

A.     the location of aquifers (ground water).  An ecological report establishing the location of groundwater and its proximity to proposed graves will determine the viability of burying the dead in this location.

B.     the need for local perishable produce to be easily accessible to the market for the wellbeing of the community.

The 60%/40% land split compromise situation proposed may not be effective if the ground water proves to be a hindrance to a cemetery use and if the resulting parcels of land are so small that the Chinese Market Garden is not viable.

Although there was a convincing and valuable representation by some speakers that the land should be used as a cemetery, the valuable contribution of urban agricultural lands should not be underestimated.   The use of part of the land for cemetery purposes may only be a very short term solution for the problem of where to bury the dead.

Under these circumstances it is considered that the proposed rezoning of the land to RU4 may be supported because it is a long term sustainable solution.

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