BY CHARLOTTE GRIEVE
Despite strong community resistance, on Monday night Woollahra Council passed a motion to approve a six storey development plan for Cross Street in Double Bay.
The $12.5 million development will feature five levels of luxury apartments and six commercial units on the ground floor. It has been the subject of numerous public petitions and opposition by residents who claim it will be detrimental to privacy, solar access and the future character of the area.
The plan has also raised concern for its disregard for local planning controls including the Council’s own four storey height limit and floor space ratio restrictions.
“The proposal to wilfully depart from existing regulations significantly breaches our control,” said Councillor Robertson who voted against the motion.
Councillor Petrie, who voted for the motion, claimed that these regulations have been breached before.
“Double Bay is now becoming the way we always wanted it to be,” said Cr Petrie. “We are forced to make ourselves unpopular at times.”
The controversy surrounding this development feeds into the age old debate around the ability to strike a balance between the need to increase the vibrancy of an area without subjecting it to over-crowding.
Speaking at the meeting, Councillor James Keulemans cited the “merits” of the building’s design, arguing that the development will enhance the local street scape and bring more people to the area.
In contrast, Councillor Luise Elsing reminded the room of the need to “commandeer the views of our constituents.” She also warned of the approval’s ability to set a precedent for increasing density and over-development of the precinct.
“They [the developers] will run straight to the courts and say ‘well they’ve done it for them why can’t they do it for us,’” she said.
Councillor Anthony Marano who also voted against the motion said he had “grave concerns” for the alfresco diners and afternoon café-goers of Double Bay’s back lanes.
Councillor Robertson described these sun-lit laneways as “key and unique” to the Double Bay precinct.
While the motion narrowly passed with a five to six vote count, community members are livid with the result.
“This will be the end of Woollahra Council,” said Jasmin Steel, convenor for the Darling Point Society.