Will a controversial hotel development in central Byron that exceeds both height and floor space limits be given conditional approval at this week’s Byron Council meeting?
This is a distinct possibility after Council staff recommended that councillors accept a revised set of plans offered by the project’s developer.
The three-storey mixed-use development proposed for 7 Marvel Street involves a 38-bed hotel with swimming pool located above ground floor shops and a basement health spa.
Byron Council opposed the plan in its original form on a range of grounds, including the fact that it exceeded the 11.5m height limit for that part of town.
It also smashed the floor space ratio limit for the area, exceeding this limit by more than 20 per cent, and did not provide sufficient parking spaces to cater for the number of hotel guests.
The Council received 25 letters of objection from local residents who oppose the plan.
With its original plan facing likely refusal, the developer – Pace Development Group – took the now well-worn path of appealing council’s ‘deemed refusal’ in the Land and Environment Court.
The matter is set down for hearing this week, though that will be cancelled if an agreement is reached or close to being so.
During the court-ordered conciliation process, the developer submitted revised plans for the proposal, adding a second basement level car park, a car share space for hotel guests, and design changes to the front and rear facades.
Rather than reducing the height or floor space ratio of the plan, they submitted detailed arguments as to why they should not have to abide by those rules.
This included the argument that ‘both the front and rear of the site is bound by public roads, which in this case provides added separation to adjacent existing development’.
They also argued that ‘a substantial component of the additional floorspace is contained in a basement level that has no implications in regard to the size of the building’.
In response to the developer’s amendments and arguments, Council staff have recommended that it is now appropriate for the development to be approved, if the developer will agree to a reduction of the floor space ratio of 100 square metres.
‘With a reduction of 100 m2 the floor area would be appropriate in terms of the floor space ratio controls,’ the author of the Council report, … said
‘In the event that Council does not support any variation to the Floor Space Ratio this will remain an outstanding contention and council will [need] to defend the contention in the Land and Environment Court.’
‘Should the Floor space ratio and car parking matters be resolved then it is considered that public interest issues fall away.’
Should councillors vote in favour of the staff recommendation at this week’s meeting, General Manager Mark Arnold will be authorised to enter into behind-closed-door negotiations with the developer to approve the plan.