A residents’ action group has accused a developer of using a loophole to get part of a project approved, after it was removed from the plan in order for the Joint Regional Planning Panel to give the development the green light.
But the developer of Fettlers Whitebridge says it is using a “legitimate process” available under the state’s planning laws to add a fourth storey to its project.
Lake Macquarie City Council staff have recommended councillors approve an application on Monday night for two extra units – and a fourth storey – to be added to the development on Dudley Road.
It comes after the JRPP approved SNL Building Constructions’ application to build Fettlers Whitebridge only after it removed the fourth storey, including two units, from the plan.
But earlier this year, the developer lodged a separate application for the remaining living quarters and fourth storey with Lake Macquarie council.
Whitebridge Community Alliance has vocally opposed the development, with concerns over the impact on amenity, density, building height precedents and the surrounding environment.
“All this DA is, is a loophole,” spokesperson Michelle Burdekin said.
“The contention is this new DA is really a legal loophole that the Department of Planning has permitted to stand where, despite the fact that it’s already been assessed twice by the Joint Regional Planning Panel which has powers above and beyond local council, they are now putting it back before council for exactly the same thing that was denied.
“The site hasn’t changed, the argument hasn’t changed, the planning outcomes haven’t changed.”
SNL Building Constructions approvals director Wade Morris rejected the claim that the firm was using a loophole and said the company had submitted the development application after taking legal advice.
“It is not a loophole but a legitimate process available to all applicants under the NSW planning system,” he said.
Mr Morris said the application was important in “realising an improved architectural and urban design outcome” for the site and streetscape.
“There will always be a variety of opinions on planning and development matters and in this case we simply hold a different opinion to those still opposed to the development,” he said.
A council spokesperson said the application going before councillors on Monday did not meet requirements to go before the JRPP.
“Determination of this development application will be made by the full council, and not by staff exercising their delegations,” she said.