Development Process and
Compulsory Acquisition

The Marsfield Common proposal was submitted to Council on 18 May 2022, addressing all the matters raised by Council officers in pre-lodgement discussions and was supported and praised by Ryde Council officers in the original planning stages. While Council officers worked to meet the timeframes set out in the relevant legislation, Ryde Council did not meet the statutory deadlines it was required to meet to consider the planning proposal. The proposal was subsequently submitted to the NSW Government via the Department of Planning and Environment for consideration by the relevant Sydney District Planning Panel in December 2022. The Panel refused the application on the basis of advice from Council that the site was likely to be acquired for public open space purposes in the near future.

In October 2022, NRRSL also took the preliminary steps to prepare a State Significant Development Application for the redevelopment of the TG Millner site for seniors housing. As part of this process, the Department of Planning and Environment has issued Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs). This process provides for the seniors housing application to be assessed by the Department with a subsequent decision to be made by the Independent Planning Commission and/or the Land & Environment Court.

On 21 November 2022, Ryde Council initiated a non-exclusive negotiation process to purchase the TG Millner site from the North Ryde RSL. Both North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby Club are open to Ryde Council acquiring the site for the community at fair market value. If, however, no agreement for Council to purchase the TG Millner site before 22 May 2023, Council may proceed with the compulsory acquisition process. The compulsory negotiation period has since ended without any agreement being reached.

At a Ryde Council meeting on 23 May 2023, Councillors approved a motion “to take any and all steps necessary” to protect TG Millner as green open space in perpetuity, a decision that was reinforced again by Council at its June 2023 Council meeting.

Following the 23 May 2023 meeting, Ryde Council has written to the Minister for Local Government seeking permission to issue a PAN (Property Acquisition Notice) and compulsorily acquire the site.

North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby Club are comfortable with Ryde Council acquiring the site at fair market value for the surrounding community. Since the end of the non-exclusive negotiation period, Ryde Council has written to the Minister for Local Government seeking permission to issue a PAN and compulsorily acquire the site. To date, we are unaware if Council has received a response from the Minister in relation to its request.

A Council purchase would help Eastwood Rugby to build and maintain its new grounds, grow the game of rugby in Sydney and ensure the club a healthy future for years to come, while enabling North Ryde RSL to enhance its offering to its members at its current North Ryde location.

Frequently
Asked
Questions

Why can't the site remain as is?

The site, which is privately owned, has reached the end of its current life in terms of current uses, and it needs to be renewed to continue to deliver benefits to two community-based organisations and to the local community.

Marsfield is a thriving suburb of Sydney – the demographics and needs of the local community have vastly changed in recent decades. 68% of the local community derives its ancestry from countries where the sport of Rugby is rarely even heard of. Only 4% of Eastwood rugby players live within the Ryde LGA.

For example, before Covid, the playing fields at TG Millner were used only 20 times by local community sporting clubs or schools in 2019, excluding the use by the Eastwood Rugby Club. Of the three fields at TG Millner, the third, full-sized rugby field has not been used at all for many years now.

Covid has also had a significant impact on the sustainability of the North Ryde RSL Club, which has also worked hard to be viable for a long time.

Marsfield Common sought to revitalise the TG Millner site and reconnects today’s community to the site, and offered over $25million in community benefits through the Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) including a 1 hectare public park, and $5 million in affordable key worker housing.

Why did Eastwood Rugby Club and North Ryde RSL prepared this proposal?

Marsfield Common was a Planning Proposal that has been developed by Eastwood Rugby and North Ryde RSL to redevelop TG Millner Field, creating 132 low-rise, terrace homes and a new public park for the surrounding community.

Eastwood Rugby and North Ryde RSL have gone to great lengths to keep TG Millner Field alive, but TG Millner Field is no longer strongly relevant to the community that surrounds it – a decline initially identified by Eastwood Rugby in 1990 and reflected in the decline of the licensed Club leading up to 2000 which has continued to the present date.

While people might be sad that Eastwood no longer intends to play rugby at TG Millner, the fact is that Eastwood Rugby (whose long-term patron is Rob Millner – the grandson of TG Millner) made a decision in 2017 to move to a new location within the 58 hectare Fred Caterson Reserve in Castle Hill, which is closer to their main player base. Only 4% of Eastwood’s current players and participants are from the Ryde area.

In conjunction with The Hills Shire Council, Eastwood Rugby will develop a modern, purpose-built Club playing base that will include three high-quality fields with unimpeded daytime and evening usage, new club facilities, grandstand, broadcast-quality lighting and ample parking.

The development of Marsfield Common, founded upon a modest proposal from two longstanding Ryde community organisations, would have helped Eastwood Rugby to build and maintain its new grounds, grow the game of rugby in Sydney and ensure the club a healthy future for years to come. The success of the proposal would have also enabled North Ryde RSL to enhance its offering at its current North Ryde location and jointly deliver with Eastwood Rugby a quality legacy for the local Marsfield community.

How did the community stand to benefit from this redevelopment?

Our foremost goal for Marsfield Common was to be a high-quality place that blended with and is open to the surrounding area, and provided amenities to the local community such as affordable housing, a public park, and low-density, low-rise housing for future generations.

To this end, approximately 15% (1 hectare) of the currently privately-owned TG Millner Field would have been dedicated to the community as designed, maintained and well-lit public open space for low-impact recreation purposes, co-designed with the Council and the local community.

The development would have literally breathed new life into the area with 570 new trees to be planted where the playing fields and parking currently stand. This would have created an impressive green space and canopy cover for the neighbourhood.

This proposal was specifically designed with the community in mind, so that North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby could assist in transitioning the site into something that better benefits the community that now surrounds it.

What community amenities were planned for the common space/community area in Marsfield Common?

In the Marsfield Common proposal, approximately 15% (1 hectare) of the currently privately-owned TG Millner Field was to be dedicated to the community as designed, maintained and well-lit public open space for low-impact recreation purposes, including what the local Council and the local community believed appropriate.

The initial plans included 2,000m2 of varied play space for all ages is proposed, including a seniors’ exercise park and walking loop, together with an additional 700m2 of multi-purpose court space for badminton, volleyball and basketball, permanent table-tennis courts etc. All options being considered will be less intensive than rugby game days and the final design would have reflected the views of the community and Ryde Council’s policy objectives, including more contemporary recreational spaces in the local area.

Did the proposal include the provision of key-worker, affordable housing?

Yes, Marsfield Common included a $5M contribution for the provision of affordable key worker housing within the Ryde LGA.

The City of Ryde Affordable Housing Policy provides for 5% of new lots to be dedicated for key worker housing. As opposed to providing the lots to Council on-site, which we were happy to consider, and we offered this financial contribution in lieu to provide Council with a choice as to how it wished to deliver key worker affordable housing in the Ryde LGA.

Was Marsfield Common more high-rise density apartment complexes?

Our development plan did not include a single high-density apartment complex.

Marsfield Common was to be a collection of modest, low-rise terrace homes that are no higher than two storeys. It is important to us that we build a community-first development that was appropriate for the site and compatible with the surrounding Marsfield area.

During this process, North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby considered a number of development options for the site including a seniors’ living scheme, a mix of residential apartments and townhouses, and a house/terrace scheme. In considering these options, North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby have looked at best practice projects across Sydney, including Putney Hill, which is located in the Ryde LGA and is widely regarded as one of the best urban infill projects in Australia.

After consideration of the various options, we determinedthe low-density housing and terrace scheme was the best option for the Marsfield area. It is genuinely believed by the project’s creators that this low-rise proposal is preferable to the seniors’ accommodation that the site is currently zoned for, as it creates more upside for the local community and sustainable returns for Eastwood Rugby and North Ryde RSL, which are ultimately community-based organisations. And, it is certainly preferable to forcing through a high-density approach, which seeks maximum financial returns over all other aspects, and which local residents would be very rightly concerned about.

We also committed to providing key worker affordable housing and pursued a Floor Space Ratio (FSR) outcome no greater than 0.5:1 for the site which is identical to the 0.5:1 FSR that applies to the surrounding residential area, which was initially subdivided in the 1970s.

What stage is this proposal currently at with Ryde Council?

On 21 November 2022, Ryde Council initiated a non-exclusive negotiation process to purchase the TG Millner site from the North Ryde RSL. Both North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby Club are comfortable with Ryde Council acquiring the site for the community at fair market value. As no agreement was reached for Council to purchase the TG Millner site before 22 May 2023 deadline, Council is now able to proceed with the compulsory acquisition process.

North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby Club are comfortable with Ryde Council acquiring the site at fair market value for the surrounding community. Since the end of the non-exclusive negotiation period, Ryde Council has written to the Minister for Local Government seeking permission to issue a PAN (Property Acquisition Notice) and compulsorily acquire the site. To date, we are unaware if Council has received a response from the Minister in relation to its request.

A Council purchase will help Eastwood Rugby to build and maintain its new grounds, grow the game of rugby in Sydney and ensure the club a healthy future for years to come, while enabling North Ryde RSL to enhance its offering to its members at its current North Ryde location.

Who was responsible for the design of the Marsfield Common?

North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Club have engaged a high-quality consultant team to develop a vision for the TG Millner Site, led by DKO architecture (www.dko.com.au) and Ethos Urban planning (www.ethosurban.com), both of whom have extensive experience in complex Masterplan proposals of this nature.

DKO has won sustainability awards and is known for taking particular care in integrating the natural surrounds with their housing projects, such as their Orion Braybrook community of contemporary townhouse terraces laid out across 11 hectares of landscaped streetscapes and pocket parks.

Ethos Urban was involved in the redevelopment of Putney Hill, which is regarded as a leading example of the regeneration of aging ‘urban infill’ infrastructure.

The project is managed by Winston Langley, a NSW-based property development and advisory company with a history of working in an open manner with a range of stakeholders on urban regeneration projects of this nature, including the redevelopment of the 10 hectare Cronulla Sharks project.

North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby Club have partnered with these industry leaders with the overriding intent of working with Council officers, Councillors, the community, and State Government to deliver a landmark development outcome that is appropriate for the TG Millner site and local area.

These longstanding community organisations wanted to avoid a situation seen on other sites across Sydney where a community Club presents a reasonable development proposal for redundant landholdings, only to see the proposal rejected because of what is perceived at the time as a significant change of use.

Given the limited resources of community Clubs, what has typically ensued in similar circumstances elsewhere in Sydney is the relevant Clubs going broke, sites sitting dormant for some years, and/or major developers coming in later with much larger proposals than what was initially proposed.

North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby are determined that this not occur in relation to the TG Millner site.

What were the environmental impacts of the proposal?

Currently, the privately-owned site sits largely unused as an open field and occasional parking lot, while upkeep of the grounds wastes significant water resources. We believe this area has the potential to better serve both the community and the environment.

The NSW Government has stated that to create a sustainable, liveable and cool Greater Sydney, we need trees and green cover. In their commitment to more trees, cleaner air and more beautiful places to live, the Government is aiming to plant one million trees by 2022, as part of a broader commitment to plant five million trees by 2030.

The development of Marsfield Common will include the planting of approximately 570 new trees where the open football fields currently stand. This would have generated circa 65% tree canopy cover across the precinct (60% greater than State Government requirements), providing shade for families and friends to enjoy the new public space in comfort.

It was also a priority to retain trees that already stand on the site which we have identified as high value to the local environment and community. Our pre-development tree assessment has identified a number of high-value trees that we would have left intact through the development process, and successfully integrate them into the final community and amenities.

In addition, the project included a wide range of sustainability and Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) initiatives relating to water, stormwater management, solar, energy-efficiency, environmental and waste management matters.