After receiving owner’s consent from Council at the September Council Meeting, the Noble brothers wasted no time in re-lodging their $1.3 million DA for a café and two apartments on their land in central Gerringong.
Controversially, the proposal includes a glassed-off terraced area, with roof structure, on land that is leased from Council.
The peppercorn 100 year lease for the 82 sq metre lot was granted as part of complex negotiations which saw the Nobles help Council implement a community developed plan for the village (called a Charette).
The Charette aimed to provide more public space and amenity to Gerringong’s town centre. As Gerringong’s biggest landowner, the cooperation of the Nobles was essential to the process, which resulted in the creation of Noble St and other features.
However, in the twenty years that have past since the arrangements were made, locals and visitors alike have got used to having access to the iconic views and public reserve (next to Scoops).
The Nobles now wish to build on their land to the north and east of their existing buildings on Fern St. Their plans seamlessly integrate the leased land into their retail area, and isolate it from the remaining reserve, which some feel was not the intention when the lease was granted (see the view of the South Precinct below).
Ken Noble was keen to stress at the Public Access meeting prior to the Council Meeting that the glass was necessary to protect customers from the wind and rain.
“We will make sure the viewlines (from the street) are retained,” he said. The main body of the building is to be kept back in line with the existing building (also owned by them) so that public would not lose its views of Werri Beach – but people would have to be customers to sit down in that area.
“Our 100 year lease grants us exclusive position,” he said. “Public access through the property is contrary to the lease.”
Former Councillor Howard Jones, who also spoke at the Public Access meeting, wants the public to still have access to the leased area. “It is crunch time for putting in place the best possible arrangement for public benefit from the leasing of public land, which will provide significant financial benefit to the tenant.”
Councillors Honey, Rice and Sloan suggested deferring granting the Owner’s Consent pending further negotiation with the Nobles.
However Mayor Petschler said during the debate, “It’s my view that our ability to refuse or approve the DA would not be weakened or improved depending on whether we gave approval for the use of the land.”
Councillor Dennis Seage was keen to let the Nobles lodge their DA so it could be then assessed on its merits.
South Precinct view: rescind consent
The South Precinct of Kiama LGA will ask Kiama councilors to rescind their September decision to provide owner’s consent for the development on iconic public land in the Gerringong CBD. According to their statement:
“Precinct is concerned that the public land in the proposal is being exclusively used for commercial purposes at the expense of public use of the area and its impact on views
to Werri Beach and the northern headland.
“These qualities are enshrined in the development control plan for Gerringong CBD which reflect the outcomes of the Gerringong Charrette (1995).
“Council’s resolution appears to have avoided the responsibility for the Council to establish guidelines for commercial use this vital public land.
“Precinct argues that a Clause in the lease, which states that tables and chairs should be taken in each night, implies that development on the site was always meant to be ‘casual and low key’. The development proposal however suggests that the leased public land should be incorporated entirely within the development at the exclusion of the public.
“Furthermore the roof structure and a fully enclosing 1.8 metre high balustrade totally contradicts the ‘outdoor’ nature required by the lease.
“Precinct believes that by rescinding the motion Councillors and council staff will have more time to adequately determine the limits of the private use of this public land.”