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April 15 – Strathfield Council welcome PAC decision on ACU concept plan

15 April 2013

Strathfield Council has welcomed a decision by the Planning Assessment Committee (PAC) to refuse major components of the Australian Catholic University’s concept plan, which would have seen a major expansion of its Strathfield campus.

The concept plan, which has been long opposed by Strathfield Council and residents, had sought to increase student numbers, extend operating hours and expand development within the current university campus.

However, despite the Department of Planning and Infrastructure’s recommendation that the concept plan be approved, the PAC refused these aspects of the application and only approved the development of an underground car park and the construction of Precinct 1, an upgrade of the out-dated university library and other facilities.

Strathfield Deputy Mayor, Cr Andrew Soulos said while Council would have preferred that the whole concept plan be refused, it was still a victory for residents, particularly as no increase in student numbers had been permitted.

“Strathfield residents and Strathfield Council have strongly opposed this concept plan as it has always been our belief that it was fundamentally flawed and was an inappropriate development in what is a residential area” he said.

“The PAC’s decision has largely vindicated our stance and credit needs to go to the Strathfield residents that have actively campaigned against this concept plan and articulated what a negative affect this development would have been if it was approved.

“However it is unfortunate that Precinct 1 has been approved, as this will have a significant impact on residents living near the eastern section of the campus, especially given the development includes four storey buildings.”

Cr Soulos said it was important to note that any future application by the ACU would need to be lodged with Council.

“With the State Government’s decision to repeal ‘Part 3A’, its power to determine what it deemed state significant developments, all planning decisions will now be made by either Strathfield Council or the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP),” he said.

“This means that those with local knowledge will be able to make planning decisions, which is a good outcome for our community.”

Cr Soulos also said Council still intends to continue to pursue the ACU relating to the number of students the university has on campus.

“We have given the university a chance and asked to bring its student numbers back to the allowed level. To this day, they have been very uncooperative so our intention to take action remains,” he said.

“An institution cannot keep pushing the boundaries to the detriment of the local community without consequence.”

Current consent provided to the ACU restricts on-site numbers for the main campus to be no more than 510 students during the day and 247 during the night. As for the Edward Clancy campus, student numbers shall not exceed a maximum of 240 students at any given time.