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SSC Newspaper : November 2010
All the residents and even the developer wanted the development above. Instead what won approval were the plans everyone hated. By Natalie O'Brien As an exercise in community consultation, it's hardly a stunning success. A controversial $29 million high-rise development destined for Homebush shopping village looks set to go ahead, despite the fact that both the public and Strath eld Council preferred a more community-friendly design. Even the developer, Remolo Nigro, is shocked at the result. He is willing to build a revised design that pleases everyone, but now has no choice but to build the unpopular but approved version of the development. And just about everyone is asking: how could this happen? A revised plan that replaced a retail giant such as Coles or Woolworths with home o ces, a community centre, space for the local RSL and a memorial garden was drawn up in response to concerns that the new development would have an adverse e ect on the neighbourhood. But the revised plan was knocked back at a State planning meeting last month despite support from the Homebush Mainstreet Commi ee. e commi ee maintained the run-down property on Burlington Road had been "crying out for some far-sighted organization". " is site has become a 'tip' and a haven for 'squa ers and vandals' ...andisablightonandinthe Strath eld municipality," according to a submission from the commi ee. Developer Nigro, says he is just trying to do the right thing by the community. "It is devastating. It was a shock. Even the council said they would support it (the revised plans) and then it was rejected," he said. "I can't keep stu ng around. What can I do? I have spent so much time and money, I have spent $700,000 on this new development application," he said. "I have a retail giant locked in." A er months of controversy, a yer being circulated in the area, signatures gathered for a petition to support the revised plans and with the backing of the council, the new plan went up before the Joint Regional Planning Panel ( JRPP). e JRPP is made up of members appointed by the State Government and Local Council. e panel oversees developments worth more than $10 million and is set up to provide independent, merit-based decision-making. But the panel's decision to reject the new plan has both surprised and upset local residents, according to Marlene Doran, from the Homebush Mainstreet Commi ee -- especially since it is in the spirit of the State Government's push to a ract people close to transport hubs. Doran says that following extensive consultations with the developer, the new development plan now has the support of shopkeepers in Homebush village and many residents in the district. "We [the community] are ge ing something out of it for a change," she said. " e Homebush-Strath eld RSL sub-branch was going to get an o ce, they were going to put up our memorial plaques and we were going to get a community centre." Patrick Wong,Director of Technical Services, told the JRPP that both the council and the residents were in favour of the new design and that it was a be er option than the previous proposal. But the panel rejected the development on technical grounds. " ere are a number of issues that did not comply like height and design," Wong says. e existing site is in a poor state, having been burnt out, lled with rubbish and overrun with vermin. Residents are concerned that the site could e ect the health of their children. Nigro has been allowing residents and customers of nearby David's Fresh to use the parking area of the site while his development application is being processed. His new plan, a er consulting with the community, was for an eight storey development with 148 units and underground parking for 226 cars. It would also include an o ce for the Homebush-Strath eld RSL sub-branch, a memorial garden and a community centre. e property known as the Para Quad centre, which fronts both Burlington Road and the Crescent, was established in 1890. e RSL bought the hall in the 30's and the sub-branch of the RSL was registered there in 1964. In 2001, the RSL relocated to the Homebush Bowling Club and the site was sold to Chamwell Pty Ltd. Since then, two development proposals have been the subject of appeals to the Land Environment Court. Approval was nally won for the plan which included 2,900 sqm of retail space for a supermarket. However, a er a community outcry, Nigro revised the development and put forward the new plan -- which was refused by the JRPP. e council had advertised the new development, and a petition was received with 24 signatures from local residents supporting the project. Council also received 25 wri en submissions opposing the development. Many of these objections were about the height of the new residential building as well as tra c and parking problems. Some residents describe the new development as "Hong Kong- style ats". But Doran told the Scene shopkeepers in the area support the project. e Homebush Mainstreet Commi ee told the council it had no problem with the height of the proposed building because nearby "Burlington Towers", an eight-storey construction at 3-5 Burlington Road, was built 37 years ago. Rick Webb, commi ee president, says the development would have been a "win win" for everyone. "[Proposals for] the re-furbishment of the RSL memorial garden and the re-installation of the plaques commemorating those service personnel no longer with us ... would appease many family members and relatives," he wrote in a submission. Strathfield Scene 9 "The development would have been a ‘win win’ for everyone.” – Homebush Mainstreet Committee President, Rick Webb. THE BIG ISSUE www.ourstrathfield.com How could this happen? "It is devastating. It was a shock. Even the council said they would support it (the revised plans) and then it was rejected," developer Nigro. An artist's impression of the development
Strathfield Scene December