Apartments test council planning rule

11-07-2018 by admin

PREFERABLE: Richard Turner, who opposed the Salamander Haven Village plans on the grounds of “bulk and scale”, said the existing villas, pictured, suited the area better.Haven wish granted

NEIGHBOURS of theSalamander Haven Village fear a new development approved for the site will drastically alter the area’s character.

The developer Port Stephens Veterans and Citizens Aged Care has gained approval to build athree-storey apartment block at 240 Soldiers Point Road –a full storey higher than presently available on the strip.

Port Stephens Council also granted approval for a four-storey apartment block toward the rear of the site.This exceeds the 9 metre height restrictionset out in the 2013 Local Environment Plan by 5.57 metres, or 58 per cent.

NeighbourKathryn Renfrew spoke at the council meeting and noted that all 11 submissions were opposed to the development

“It was a unanimous if relatively small response from a community against not only the height but the bulk,” she said.

The development takes place on land zoned for low density residential use (R2).The proponent asked council to use its discretion under clause 4.6 of the 2013 LEP to allow the height increase.

Richard Turner who lives on Soldiers Point Road opposite the development site said it was a gross over development and questioned council’s processes.Mr Turner, a former Cessnock council alderman, asked why Port Stephens Council did not include the full submissions of people who respond to such developmentsin the meeting agenda, as is common practice at other councils.He also asked how council’s planning staff could assume it had the NSW Department of Planning’s ‘concurrence’ in such a large variation from the 2013 LEP.

“I suggest to you Mr Mayor that the proposal does not tick one of the necessary boxes for approval,” he said.

A member of the council’s development services team responded that his planners worked under ‘assumed concurrence’ from the Department, as spelled out in a circular to all councils. He also noted that council contacted the Department in this case as a matter of course.

The Examiner confirmed with the Department of Planning that its advice was sought. It’s understood the Department told the council itshould consult Departmental guidelines.

“For me, the fact it’s seniors housing pushes it over the line,” Cr Steve Tucker said.

The vote was unanimous.

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