IBM Site at 55 Coonara Ave

 scroll down for the history of this proposal 


IBM Site, 55 Coonara Avenue, WPH (currently owned by Mirvac)

A concerned WPHVPA committee member wrote " .....(development of) the bottom one third of the site would destroy what is the last vestige of the original pre-settlement forest within the West Pennant Hills Valley. ....This area contains flora which is superior to most of the Cumberland Forest and is relatively untouched. No buildings or roads are in this area and the only improvements are a wooden bridge over the creeks and some man-made tracks that IBM staff use of a lunchtime.  It is a major roosting place for the powerful owl of which there are only 60 pairs within Sydney. It has excellent stands of Sydney Blue Gums and is mainly a weed-free area....."  See photos above.

  A satellite image of the site is available here
   As at 18 June 2020, the site is zoned R4, R3 & E2 see map

February 2020
Up to 9 or even 10 Storeys!
The meeting notes and slide presentation for the Mirvac Community Reference Group (CRG) meeting, held on 15
th December, are now available for sharing in our community.  At this meeting, Mirvac revealed the draft Concept Masterplan for the site at 55 Coonara Avenue.  The plans are still at the draft stage and a final plan is expected to be lodged with Council later this month.   Please click on the following links to view the documents:
  CRG 2 meeting notesCRG 2 Slide Presentation
In our most recent newsletter, we explained that although Mirvac might build fewer dwellings, a massive 36% increase to the current allowable building height would be requested.  We thought this was to achieve 8-storey apartment blocks, but you can see in the meeting notes that up to 9 storeys is being planned.  In fact, some of the diagrams in the slide presentation suggest it might even be 10 storeys!
December 2020
Follow link to read the submission from WPHVPA

27 October 2020
Mirvac has lodged the DA for demolition reference 585/2021/HC.  Details on Council website under Building & Planning/ Application Tracking/DA/Application No/ as above
The deadline for submissions is 14th December 2020.  More information here
A Community Reference Group (CRG) has been established, first meeting 27 October.  2 WPHVPA representatives are on the committee.  
More details to follow
1 October 2020

An Update From PYSE (Protecting Your Suburban Environment Inc)

PYSE had obtained initial legal advice which indicated potential grounds for an appeal against the Department of Planning's rezoning.  PYSE then obtained a Barrister's advice as to whether they had reasonable prospects of winning a Judicial Appeal.  Sadly, the Barrister advised that even though the rezoning decision was considered not to be a good decision, in their opinion PYSE was unlikely to meet the high bar that is required for a successful Judicial Appeal.  

Although PYSE was unable to fight the rezoning in Court, their legal team identified significant issues with the Mirvac proposal.  

18 June 2020
DPIE has approved the rezoning of this site for residential and environmental conservation.
DPIE has amended the proposal rejected by Hills Council last November to:

·        reduce areas of land to be zoned R4 high-density and R3 medium-density residential,;

·        increase areas of land to be zoned E2 environmental protection;

·        remove a proposed RE1 Public Recreation zone (and associated synthetic grass playing field);

·        include additional local provisions to allow recreation and selected other uses consistent with the objectives of the E2 zone (these provisions only apply to E2 areas previously proposed as R4 and RE1); and

·        ensure asset protection zones (APZs) do not require clearing or management of critically endangered ecological communities.

Some of the E2 area may be dedicated to Cumberland State Forest, via a Voluntary Planning Agreement between Mirvac and DPIE, but this was not a condition of rezoning.  Mirvac has said this will happen 'prior to the issue of the Occupation Certificate for the final stage of the proposed development'  (Construction work is estimated to take at least 5 years)

For more information click on the following links: (the first 3 are extracted from the finalisation report)
Amendments to exhibited zoning map   shows the changes to the proposal that was rejected last November    
Revised LEP zoning map see conditions below
New E2 areas with additional permitted uses  
Complete Finalisation report published by DPIE
All correspondence and videos relating to fast-track approval can be found here

The Hills Local Environmental Plan 2019  Current version for 18 June 2020, site specific conditions for 55 Coonara Ave.

7.15   Development at 55 Coonara Avenue, West Pennant Hills

(1)  This clause applies to land at 55 Coonara Avenue, West Pennant Hills, being Lot 61, DP 737386 (the subject land).

(2)  Development consent may be granted to a single development application for development on the subject land in Zone R3 Medium Density Residential or Zone R4 High Density Residential that is both of the following—

(a)  the subdivision of land into 2 or more lots,

(b)  the erection of a dwelling house, an attached dwelling or a semi-detached dwelling on each lot resulting from the subdivision, if the size of each lot is equal to or greater than—

(i)  for the erection of a dwelling house—180 square metres, or

(ii)  for the erection of an attached dwelling or a semi-detached dwelling—86 square metres.

(3)  Development consent must not be granted to development on the subject land unless the building setback of any building resulting from the development is equal to, or greater than, 11 metres from Coonara Avenue, West Pennant Hills.

(4)  Clause 7.7 (other than clause 7.7(4)(g)) extends to development on the subject land involving the erection of a new building, or external alterations to an existing building, of any height.

(5)  Development consent must not be granted to development on the subject land unless the consent authority is satisfied that the development—

(a)  is designed to maximise the use of water permeable surfaces on the land having regard to the soil characteristics affecting on-site infiltration of water, and

(b)  includes, if practicable, on-site stormwater retention for use as an alternative supply to mains water, groundwater or river water, and

(c)  avoids any significant adverse impacts of stormwater runoff on adjoining properties, native bushland and receiving waters, or if that impact cannot be reasonably avoided, minimises and mitigates the impact.

(6)  Development consent must not be granted to development that results in more than 600 dwellings on the subject land.

18 June 2020
Reply received from Council about tree removal along Coonara Ave frontage.  Read it here and our reply here
16 June 2020 
We received a reply from DPIE but it didn't address any of the points made in our letter of 27 May, nor did it address several subsequent requests for a meeting.  Read it here
Cate Faehrmann, NSW upper house, made this video for sending to David Elliott & Matt Kean
14 June 2020
Hills Clr Ryan Tracey, who has been very vocal opposing the development, made this video
09 June 2020
We submitted an item for the Community Forum held as part of Hills Council Meeting.  Click here to read the article
02 June 2020
Several residents have noticed that a significant number of trees have been removed from the site.  Click here for our letter to Council requesting urgent action
22 May 2020
NSW Planning has put this project on the list for Fast-tracked Assessments, Tranche 2, with a decision due by 18th June.
Click here for the Media Release.  The project is  described as 'an expansion to Cumberland State Forest'!!
Criteria  for Priority Projects can be viewed here.  This project does not satisfy the criteria for creating jobs after construction, delivering affordable housing, or timeliness because ecology, bushfire and flooding restraints can't be resolved quickly. 
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!  4000 residents said NO, Hills Council said NO, Hornsby Council said NO, NSW OEH (now EES) said NO,  don't let NSW DPIE give in to pressure from Mirvac.
Click on link to TAKE ACTION NOW 
Ideas and a draft letter can also be found at

May 2020
55 Coonara is still being considered for fast-tracking,
We have sent further letters to Rob Stokes(NSW Minister for Planning) and to Dominic Perrottet (NSW Treasurer) saying that the 2019/20 bushfires and COVID-19 have provided further reasons to reject this proposal.

April 2020
55 Coonara Ave has been put on a ‘fast-track’ list of projects that could help stimulate the NSW economy.  The list was part of a submission made by Urban Taskforce (a lobby group for developers) at the request of NSW Treasury Dept, and is supposed to be for projects that are ‘shovel-ready’ but stuck in the NSW planning process.  You can read the whole report here.  Details for 55 Coonara can be found on page 52 of the report.
Unlike other projects on the list, 55 Coonara is not stuck in the planning system. the proposal was rejected at the Council Meeting on 26th November 2019
We have written to Dominic Perrottet (NSWTreasurer), David Elliott, Michelle Byrne and Hornsby Council pointing out that 55 Coonara should not be on this list because it is not stuck in the planning system.  We have asked for 55 Coonara to be removed from the list of projects being considered.

David Elliott has already replied with the comment ‘I’m assured that any stimulation of construction sector won’t be at the expense of integrity of the planning laws.’  We sent a second email

Treasury/NSW planning response is here 

26 Nov 2019
The post exhibition report was item 3 on the Council agenda for the meeting on 26 Nov at 7pm.  Around 4000 objections, but no significant changes.
Council voted not to proceed with the proposal!

22 July 2019
WPHVPA made an additional submission following additional research on synthetic grass, and including additional points made by NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
31 May 2019
Submissions closed.  Read some of the submissions objecting to the proposal 
submission from WPHVPA  
submission from Hornsby Council and 
submission from NSW Office of Environment and Heritage
30 April 2019
The updated planning proposal, VPA, and associated documents went on exhibition for public comment until 31st May. 
Click here to make a submission
07 Feb 2019 
Council says 'in a few weeks'
29 November 2018
NSW DPE approved the amended planning proposal for exhibition.  Latest advice from Council is 'end of January"
15 October 2018
Council sent the amended planning proposal to NSW Dept of Planning & Environment and is awaiting endorsement prior to public exhibition.
5 October 2018
The Progress Association joined with other local groups to send an open letter to the Department of Planning & Environment, concerning the shortcomings in Mirvac's proposal.  You can read the letter here.  It is a long letter, but worth reading because it highlights many problems with the current proposal.
October 2018
The Dept of Planning & Environment updated information on its website about the Cherrybrook Precinct.  Information about future plans now refers only to government owned land.  There is a revised map for Cherrybrook Station Precinct and the Mirvac site is no longer included in the precinct plan.

September 2018
A revised proposal was voted on at the Council meeting on Tuesday, 25th September.  The proposal was approved by 8 votes to 5.  Click on the following links for details:
June 2018
The Department of Planning has issued an alteration to the Gateway Determination.  Most of Council's requests to amend the original Determination have been rejected.  In particular, Council is requested to seek the highest level of environmental protection for relevant portions of the site and the Department is satisfied that rezoning of land to E2 does not give rise to the need to compensate a landholder.  Also, there is no alteration to the requirement to consider and propose the RE1 Public Recreation Zone.
Read the Gateway Alteration and Letter to Council dated 13-06-2018.

March 2018
Several WPHVPA committee members met with Julian Leeser, MP,  at a meet and greet session at Coonara shops.  Julian agreed to make representations on our behalf because the Commonwealth Government has identified the remnant forest on the Mirvac site within the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 List of Critically Endangered Ecological Communities.  Read our letter to Julian Leeser.

January 2018
An open letter objecting to Council's request to amend the Gateway Determination was sent to NSW Planning,various other levels of government and media..  The letter was signed by several local community groups including WPHVPA.

December 2017
Council voted on a revised rezoning plan at its meeting on 12th December.  The new zoning proposal was approved by 8 votes to 4.
Read the full report on the Council agenda for this meeting, or just read the important bits : Executive Summary & Land Use Zones & Map   Far from protecting the forested parts of the site with an E2 zoning, Council is supporting E3 which would allow residential development on the land.  Read the Council Minutes for this item.  On 15th December 2017, Council sent a letter to Dept of Planning requesting an alteration to the Gateway Determination to reflect the new zoning proposal.

November 2017
The Department of Planning has made a determination to allow the Mirvac development to proceed subject to Council meeting a number of conditions. To advance the matter, The Hills Shire Council is required to specify which parts of the Mirvac property it wishes to rezone as High Density residential development and which parts are to be reserved for environmental protection. This need for transparency is a significant step forward. More information is required now in relation to transport and infrastructure. Council is also required to consult other bodies such as the Rural Fire Service.
View the Gateway Determination & Letter to Council.

 August 2017

The Mirvac  proposal was lodged with NSW Dept. of Planning and Environment on 14th August 2017 for Gateway determination.  If approved, it will be available for public comment in October 2017.

Click on the link for more information:

July 2017

A revised proposal for 600 dwellings was put to Council at the meeting on 25th July 2017.  The proposal includes a mix of high and medium density housing, a community building and a sports field.  Council agreed by 5 votes to 3 to support the proposal and forward it to the Department of Land and Environment for Gateway Determination.  The Gateway process allows for consultation with the NSW government and the public to occur.

Click on one of the following links for more information:

March 2017

The planning proposal (20/2016/PLP) for high density residential development of 55 Coonara Ave was put to Council at the meeting on 28th March 2017.  The report included in the meeting agenda recommended rejecting the planning proposal in favour of retaining the current business park zoning.  A motion to adopt the recommendation in the report (and reject the proposal for high density residential development) was put to the meeting and carried.

Click on the following links for more information:

February 2017

Currently, land around Cherrybrook Station and the IBM/Mirvac site has not been rezoned.  Council will be considering development proposals and if a satisfactory plan is submitted, Council will propose rezoning the land.  Plans for rezoning will be on display for 28 days and available for public comment; Council will then make a decision.

  • Housing development at the IBM site is not a foregone conclusion because the Department of Planning may not wish to change the important business park/employment zoning that currently exists on the site. If this is the case then no high density residential will be permitted. 
  • The first proposal by Mirvac was for 1200 residential units up to 25 storeys.  This was rejected by Council as was a second proposal for 1000 residential units.
  • The current proposal being considered by Council is for 800 units up to 8 storeys high.  This proposal includes converting current open space to a sports ground, retaining the treed area in the southern part of the site and retaining a treed buffer between the Cumberland Forest and new buildings.  The existing multi-storey carpark would be retained but the current office buildings would be removed.
  • As a business park, there is already potential for a large number of vehicles using local roads to access the site.  Mirvac has suggested that changing the site to residential would not increase traffic.  However the site would be a point of origin rather than a destination so it is likely that traffic flows would be affected.
  • The northern part of the site is within 800m of Cherrybrook Station, but the southern part of the site is 1.7km away.  It is state policy that any land within 800m of the new station, approximately 10 mins walk, will be considered for rezoning to R4 (High Density Residential)