Design excellence plan on exhibition

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An independent review of the Hornsby Development Control Plan (HDCP) has recommended a number of amendments to improve the quality of development within the Shire, including the establishment of a formal Design Excellence Advisory Panel.

The amendments were approved for exhibition by Hornsby Shire Council at the October meeting and public submissions will be accepted until 23 November.

“This is the first step towards improving design quality and achieving considerably better development outcomes,” Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock said.

“The review found that the existing HDCP is generally consistent with best industry practice, but a number of suggestions have been made about ways it can be improved further.”

One of the recommendations is for a Design Excellence Review Panel, which will be made up of independent experts including architects and urban designers.

The panel would not have authority to approve or refuse development applications, but its recommendations would carry significant weight with the Hornsby Planning Panel that makes those decisions.

“Design excellence is very difficult to quantify within a local environmental plan or similar document,” Mayor Ruddock said.

“As we all know, a building can adhere to all of the rules that are set out on paper and still be hideously ugly.

“This panel will ask independent experts to look beyond the lines and numbers on the blueprint to make a judgement on a development’s overall impact and its compatibility with its neighbourhood.”

Other suggested amendments to the HDCP include strengthening of controls in relation to mezzanine levels, tree retention, landscaping, deep soil planting and setbacks.

Some of the report’s recommendations are already being carried out by Council, such as the creation of a Public Domain Strategy.

The draft amendments to the HDCP can be found here: