A last ditch plea has persuaded Lake Macquarie councillors to delay a decision on whether to approve a major development at Toronto until they visit the site.
Staff recommended at Monday night’s council meeting that a development application for a three-to-four storey mixed-use complex, containing 37 residential units and ground floor business space, be approved despite the development being about two metres over the legal height limit for the area.
The complex is proposed for the corner of Brighton Avenue and Wharf Road – about 600 metres along Toronto Foreshore from where council wants to build a six storey tourism-business-residential development that would also go beyond the height limit.
Toronto resident Reginald Crick told the meeting nearby residents did not want the Brighton Avenue development rejected, but were asking that it be made comply with existing planning limits.
He argued a variation would not be in the public interest and would “set a dangerous precedent of huge proportions”.
Mr Crick asked councillors to defer their decision on the development until they visited the site to better understand residents’ concerns.
“Nowhere around the entire shores of Lake Macquarie is there a building or a project that even goes close to resembling the bulk, height and scale of this proposed development,” he said.
Mayor Kay Fraser said she believed it was important for councillors to look at the site.
Cr David Belcher put forward the deferral motion.
He said other members of the community had also recently raised concerns with him about the height of the development and possible traffic effects.
Cr Wendy Harrison said four storeys might not sound like a tall building but “height is relative to the location”.
“The variation does concern me because I contend that our lakeside, our foreshore areas, should be sacrosanct and we should apply our development standards precisely to protect them,” she said.
Cr Adam Shultz also supported the idea of a site visit but said Toronto and Morisset were areas earmarked for growth.
“Increased density is a reality we face as a growing city,” he said.
Cr Jason Pauling said the site was privately-owned, so the chance of it remaining open foreshore parkland was “practically zero”.
“I don’t think recently council has had much credibility with respect to enforcing building [height] envelopes,” he said.
“I find it interesting that we would run such a hard line now when there’s been a number of developments in recent times we’ve been quite happy to extend well outside the building envelopes.”
In news today September 10, 2018:
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