Lake council knocks back Fettlers fourth storey application


Opposition: Whitebridge Community Alliance spokesperson Michelle Burdekin at the Fettlers site earlier this year. Ms Burdekin spoke against the development at Monday’s Lake Macquarie City Council meeting. Picture: Max Mason-HubersLake Macquarie councillors have rejected a planfor a fourth storey at the Fettlers Whitebridge development, which would have outstripped the legal height limit in the area by 40 per cent.

Cr Adam Shultz said the decision was aboutrespect forrulings of the Joint Regional Planning Panel–the authority that dealswith highly valuable developments–which approvedFettlers Whitebridgeonly after the fourth storey was removed from the plan.

“It’s important, in my opinion, that we send a message to this developer and others that you don’t get multiple bites of the cherry,” he told Monday’s council meeting.

Read more: Developer ‘using loophole’ to increase building height

“We as elected councillors need to do what’s right for the community and respect and uphold the JRPP’s decision.”

TheNewcastle Heraldreported on Monday that Whitebridge Community Alliance was concerned the developer, SNL Building Constructions, was trying to exploit a planning loophole by going to council with a separate application for the fourth storey, in an attempt to get it approved.

SNL Building Constructions approvals director Wade Morris told the council meeting the firm wanted to realise itsoriginal design visionand lodged a separate application to council for the top floor so as not to confuse itwith the remainder of the development, which was already under construction.

The Fettlers Whitebridge site earlier this year. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

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Mr Morris saidFettlers Whitebridge fell in line with the objectives of the Lake Mac 2050plan, which was recently placed on public exhibition, and which advocated a need to create higher density living areas closer to town centres.

But Whitebridge Community Alliance spokesperson Michelle Burdekin told the meeting approval of the application would set a new precedent for developers to approach council for approval on a piece of a project if the JRPP would not approve an entire development.

“We don’t believe the development of these two units is anything more than a developer’s attempt to dress up private interest as public good,” she said.

Several councillors spoke against the application.

“The JRPP has made its decision,” Cr Barney Langford said after he moved the motion forcouncil to reject the application because it would exceed the area’s height limit.

“The current law permitsa developer to submit a revised DA to reinstate that which was deleted by the JRPP.

“Council staff have recommended approval. But council staff have to deal with the law as it applies. In dealing with this application, they have applied the law without being able to reference the JRPP decision.”

All councillors except Cr Nick Jones and deputy mayor Cr Luke Cubis voted to reject theapplication. Cr Kevin Baker did not take part in the debate or vote on the matter.

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