A development application (DA) for an eight-building apartment complex to be built on the Balmain waterfront has been approved, despite vocal opposition from residents and politicians.
Redevelopment of the Nutrimetics site on Elliott Street was knocked back by the state government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) in 2012, and rejected again on appeal in the Land and Environment Court.
But, the JRPP unanimously passed a nearly identical application at a meeting on May 15.
The original proposal was rejected primarily due to the proposed development’s scale. However, three panelists who initially rejected the bid were on the panel when it was approved this month.
Jenny Mortimer, a member of Leichhardt Council’s Rozelle precinct group, has campaigned against both applications and says she is shocked by the outcome.
“The local people have no voice. It’s really the people with the big money [who] rule,” she said.
The Nutrimetics site is owned by the Roche Group, which could not be reached for comment.
Leichhardt mayor Darcy Byrne has denounced the JRPP’s decision, arguing that the state government has reneged on its election promise to return planning control to local communities.
“The fact that we had to use $450,000 of ratepayers’ funds to defend the JRPP’s previous determination in the Land and Environment Court because the state government refused to defend its own agency’s ruling was a disgrace,” said Cr Byrne.
The DA proposes a complex with 104 dwellings, including retail space and room for 251 cars. Council estimates the cost of the development at close to $55 million.
Local residents are concerned about the heritage of Elliott St, and about the impact of two five-storey buildings on the view. There is also concern, echoed by Cr Byrne, regarding traffic problems that are likely to arise due to the 251 extra vehicles on the Balmain Peninsula.
NSW Greens MP for Balmain Jamie Parker threw his support behind concerned residents.
“No one would oppose developing that site … but, it’s the scale and the impact which is the question, and the JRPP has let us down,” he said.
He also criticised the JRPP for ignoring recommendations presented by council staff to delete the fifth storey from the tallest buildings.
Greens councillor Craig Channells argues the complex would block access to public space.
“Whilst there is to be greater public access to the harbour foreshore, this will now be dominated by the bulk and scale of the development,” he said.