Kiama Council is to appoint a specialist lawyer to conduct a forensic review of the process and legal compliance involved with the approval of the residential development on the headland north of Werri Beach. The report is to be ready for the March Council meeting.
The motion was prompted by an appearance at the Public Access Meeting by Emeritus Mayor and long-time Gerringong resident Sandra McCarthy.
She stated her belief that the report prepared for Council, outlined in the last issue of The Bugle, raised more questions than it answered.
“I want to know why the original DA was approved by delegated authority in 2010 when its location is contrary to the zone objectives of the Kiama Local Environment Plan, the Gerringong Development Control Plan (DCP) and the NSW Coastal Policy.
“All of these sought to protect this undeveloped coastal headland,” she says.
“The Gerringong DCP makes specific reference to maintaining the public views to Werri Beach and the Northern Headland.
“In my opinion, these policies should have ruled out locating a dwelling in that particular location.
“I was mayor at the time of the first approval and the application was never brought to my attention.”
From her reading of the available information on the matter, the 2015 application made no reference to the 2010 approval, and the subsequent approval for a secondary dwelling relied on that latter precedent.
“It is ironic that the fourth DA for the property, for a farm shed, is the first that will be considered by councillors, given there are more than five objections.”
At the Council Meeting, Councillor Kathy Rice said “It just seems inexplicable that the first development approval was given.
“I don’t know what went wrong there, but it is very difficult to understand why it was deemed appropriate for the site. We need someone independent to do that assessment.”
Mayor Mark Honey welcomes the investigation as a way of clearing the air on the matter.
“I am confident it will show due process has been followed. People might not like the result, but the owner hasn’t done anything wrong,” he says.
He cautions against making judgements about the project while it is in its construction phase.
“It has been designed to sympathetically blend in with the landscape, using stone and zinc cladding,” he says.
Such was the depth of feeling at the meeting, a motion was passed for the Mayor and General Manager to talk with the owner about the possibility of stopping work at the current location and relocating the dwelling.
Andrew Sloan was one of the councillors who was keen to see if it was possible to stop the building progressing further.
“If this process was to find something was amiss, the house would be finished.
“I am wondering if the proponent might be willing to move their house a couple of hundred metres to the west.
“I’d be willing to cut budgets to make it happen.”
Councillor Neil Reilly and the Mayor were the only ones to vote against this motion, with Councillor Reilly saying, “I think it is an ugly outcome but I don’t believe the proponent has done anything wrong.
“They put in a DA and it was approved, and they got more approvals.
“We can’t ask someone who has put in a legitimate DA and had it approved and say I’m sorry, we want to move your house.
“It’s not the person who is building the house’s problem, it’s council’s problem.”