Strong feelings within the community about inappropriate development have now led to councillors voting unanimously to be the approvers of all future development applications that have the potential to detract from important local landscapes.
The motion, by Deputy Mayor Kathy Rice, followed a call for Neil Reilly for more information on the process that had resulted in the approval of a large residential development on Werri Headland, without any consultation with councillors.
The development was approved by Council officers in 2010, as was the subsequent downsizing in profile and size which is currently being built.
Councillor Reilly says along with residents he is dismayed at the disfigurement of the highly visible coastal headland.
He raised the prospect of a ‘stop order’ being issued to halt the work, which is many months into progress, if the processes and determinations were not acceptable.
The Headland is particularly iconic, given its dominance of Gerringong and prominence in Lloyd Rees’ work. Moves have been mooted to protect his family’s simple house, on Werri Lagoon with its views of the unspolit Headland.
As one Werri local told The Bugle, “It is a pox on the landscape. Sydney people come down here and don’t worry about the impact of their houses on the landscape.
“There is no way Council would let me build a house there, but if you’ve got money you seem to be able to do anything.”
Also discussed at the November Meeting was the proposal to construct four dwellings at 132 Manning St, which will subsequently be divided by strata, centred on an arrangement which had been struck by the developer and the owners of a neighbouring property to overcome shadowing issues. A modified plan addressed this and character issues in the design.
Councillor Matt Brown argued the negotiation had arrived at an outcome both parties were happy with and should be approved.
Councillor Andrew Sloan said the development still had questionable elements that should be considered by Council once staff had had time to make a proper assessment.
The DA was lodged prior to the adoption of the new DCP, which clearly outlines new requirements for such medium density developments.
The new DCP was introduced largely in response to a number of sideward facing medium density developments on Manning St which were approved without reference to Council.
The matter was an important issue in the recent Council election, due to community concerns about the loss of the Kiama LGA’s unique character if these type of developments were allowed to be built.
Councillor Reilly thinks there should be a review into the conditions under which DAs are brought before Council.
“I think that all developments over $1 million should have to be decided on by councillors rather than approved by staff,” he says.
Note: the printed version of this story inadvertently said that there was a motion that all medium density DAs should go before Council for approval, but this is not the case. We apologise for the error.