A large development proposal that would seriously impact two threatened ecological communities in Suffolk Park and diminish the town’s village character, has been given both barrels by Byron Council.
In a decision that effectively sends the developer back to square one, Council staff last week summarily dismissed the application for a mixed-used, three-storey development at 9–15 Clifford Street.
The application, submitted by a Sydney-based property group, involves demolishing nine buildings and replacing them with two new three-storey structures incorporating seven townhouses, 16 housing units and 300m2 of commercial space.
Staff provided 17 separate reasons for refusing the application, including environmental, design, bushfire, amenity and affordable housing features.
‘The development application is not satisfactory having regard to the EP&A Act as it is not in the public interest… and is an overdevelopment of the site,’ staff said.
‘The multi-dwelling housing does not meet numerous planning requirements owing to the design, location and scale of the building, and consequently will not result in a low-density residential development.’
‘It will have an adverse impact on the natural environment by removing native vegetation from the subject site and adjoining Council lot that forms part of at least two threatened ecological communities.’
The decision is a win for the many Suffolk Park residents who opposed the development, including 80 who wrote letters of objection.
These letters covered a wide range of concerns including flood risks, traffic impacts and the impact on the town’s village character.
One of the local opponents of the development, Lynne Richardson, said she was pleased that staff had refused the application but was wary of what the developer might do next.
‘My feeling is that a lot of the community shared the same concerns as the staff,’ Ms Richardson said.
‘I was really pleased that they tackled the scope of the project and the fact that the environment was in grave danger from the proposal’.
‘But we’re concerned that the developer will challenge the decision in the Land and Environment Court.
‘Regardless of what happens we’ll just grit our teeth and keep fighting.’
Bulk and scale
Among the 17 reasons for refusal set out by Council staff was the fact that the bulk and scale of the development contravened planning rules, including those covering floor space ratio.
The development was also inconsistent with the design and character requirements contained in the legislation, staff found.
The developer’s promise that 12 of the 16 units would be used to house key workers was also questioned by staff, who found that the application was ‘lacking in detail to demonstrate that it would actually be used for affordable housing’.
Staff also found that the proposal was not consistent with bushfire regulations, noting that the proposed bushfire management asset protection zone encroached on a neighbouring property without the landowner’s consent.
According to documents within the DA, the proposal is from Denwol Suffolk Pty Ltd, ‘a Sydney-based diversified property group owned by Phillip Wolanski’.
In a written response to The Echo, a Denwol Suffolk representative said that its development complied with height, floor space and parking rules, included 12 affordable housing units and was on a site that was ‘zoned to allow for this type of development’.
‘As you may know, there are so many complex and competing interests surrounding this site, including conflicting Council controls,’ said a spokesperson for the developer.
‘The many community members that attended the community consultation sessions were able to engage with us to understand these complexities and we believe, generally, left feeling positive and energised by the proposed project.’
With staff having refused the application, Denwol has the option of either appealing the decision in the Land and Environment Court, or redesigning the development.
The Echo understands that the developer has been told by Council staff that to have a chance of having the development approved, it would need to submit an entirely new development application that involved a complete redesign of the project.