By Emily Contador-Kelsall
Randwick residents have expressed concern that their council is continually favouring developer interests over resident interests.
Randwick Council recently approved a proposal for a residential flat building with basement parking at 16 Coogee St despite fierce community opposition and a lack of mediation between the developer and residents.
Earlier this year, council told residents that the developer would have to enter into mediation with residents following the community outcry. The growing community concern related to the failure of the developer to meet several council guidelines that protect the area from over-development.
Despite refusing the request to enter into mediation, council approved the developer’s proposal with few amendments.
“There is no statutory requirement for mediation to occur in relation to a DA. As council cannot compel the parties to attend a mediation, it had no option but to consider and determine the application,” a council spokesperson said.
Randwick resident Andrew Whitten said the community doesn’t know how to defend themselves against the over-development of their neighbourhood.
“The problem is that the residents don’t know the system works until they have been involved in it. By this time it is all too late to effectively lobby the councillors.”
“I am sure that this is not a problem for the developer or their consultants. They have all done this before.”
Daniel Lissette, another resident whose property would be affected by the Coogee Street development said he is concerned about developer interest continuing to trump resident interest.
“As for mediation, the Applicant got nothing more than a slap on the back of the hand with councillors stating their disappointment but stressing the Applicant has no obligation to enter mediation with residents.”
“Developers continually push the boundaries of council and new precedents seem to be established every time.”
Key concerns of residents towards the proposal included parking, overshadowing, height limits and the lack of compatibility the proposed apartment building would have with adjoining properties.
These concerns aligned with the areas the developer failed to uphold in council guidelines.
Mr Lissette said he was disgusted that these “ridiculous applications continually swing in favour of the developers without consideration for residents”, and said the applicant seemed to have the upper hand.
“Residents should be able to rely on councillors to be the voice of reason!”
Whilst council was divided on the vote to approve the proposed development, many residents felt their council did not represent them appropriately.
“Cr Anthony Andrews and Cr Harry Stavrinos were very vocal at lobbying the other councillors to get the development approved even though it clearly fell short of a number of planning objectives,” said Mr Lissette.
“Cr Andrews and Cr Stavrinos concerns were only for the developer around extra fees/costs they would be charged if they had to alter the plans, which is clearly inappropriate.”
Mr Whitten said the developer had continued to show a complete disregard and lack of respect towards the community.
In an email to council Mr Whitten said: “I really don’t understand why you could be so supportive of the developer, to the detriment of the people that elect you.”