The developer behind a proposal to build two double-storey houses, each with five bedrooms and five bathrooms, on a single block in Brunswick Heads, is adamant he isn’t planning a commercial accommodation operation on the site.
But the Brunswick Heads Progress Association believes the proposal is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and, if approved, would set a precedent for other similar developments in the town.
Sasha Hopkins, the chief executive of A Team Property Group, says that his plan to demolish a single-storey cottage at 16 Short Street and build two double-storey houses is about providing a home for his mother and a local family.
‘The past few years my mum, who was living in Ocean Shores, had been treated unpleasantly by landlords and wished she could have her own place but didn’t have the money,’ said Mr Hopkins, adding that he had grown up in the Northern Rivers.
‘With the success of my own investing and business, I decided I wanted to help her not go through that stress and to buy her a property to live in without the worry.
‘The intention was and is to keep one for my mum to live in and a holiday house for my young family and extended family on my wife’s side (her four siblings and parents).
‘We consulted about dwelling size, configurations, inclusions, design style, and everything else involved to achieve the best use of the site and [the] best resale value in the future for a prospective family.’
But the president of the Brunswick Heads Progress Association, John Dunn, said these claims ‘defied commonsense’ given the nature of the proposed development.
‘I am very surprised that a development with a combined total of 10 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, two billiard rooms with wet bars, and two swimming pools is actually for residential purposes,’ Mr Dunn said.
‘We believe this could bring a commercial accommodation development into a residential zone.’
Mr Dunn said that, if approved, the proposal would set a precedent for other similar developments in the town.
‘We’re attempting to preserve the character of Bruns,’ he said.
‘We’ve been working with Council to develop stronger definitions about the character of the town. We can’t afford to have this sort of precedent being set.’
But Mr Hopkins said that the proposal would not unduly affect the town’s character as it was ‘simply building two new homes on 500m2 blocks each, which occurs in streets currently as we speak all over Bruns’.
‘The character is already changing – that’s what happens over time to any area,’ he said.
‘Dramatising the number of rooms and bathrooms is misleading. Any reader would be led to believe it is one building like a lodge or boarding house, which is completely and factually incorrect.’
Mr Hopkins said Short Street would not have any more traffic than it did already, and the other house would be accessed from the rear lane.
‘Party noise is another example of preconceived judgment and non correct [sic] information,’ he said.
‘Is anyone building a family home in Brunswick Heads also receiving stereotyping around party noise?’
He also said that he had been unfairly portrayed by some residents and in The Echo’s previous story.
‘Some people have enough time on their hands to conjure and fabricate something like this to the public,’ he said.
‘They have had their time and I am using my time to build my own future and help those around me succeed and live a good life.
‘Just because I have succeeded, made great money, and am a property developer doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.’
Resident George Stinson, who lives next to number 16, said the proposed development would have ‘devastating’ noise, traffic, and overshadowing impacts.
‘The DA states that the development is within the height and floorspace limits for this area, but what it barely mentions is that it is well outside the building envelope, also known as the height plane, for the site,’ he said.
‘We won’t be the only ones affected; there are a number of elderly residents on this street who will be affected and they are really worried about what is being proposed.’