By VERONICA ANASSIS
Meriton’s plans for a massive 1900-apartment development in Little Bay may still go ahead, despite protests and council opposition. Likely to be rejected by Randwick Council, Meriton’s proposal, which includes controversial 22-storey complexes that will cast shadows on the beach, may still be approved through State Government.
The site, a 135,961.6 sqm residential development at 1406-1408 Anzac Parade, was purchased by Meriton for $245 million in August 2017 from Malaysia’s TA Global.
Meriton’s investment property, bound by The Coast Golf Club and Pacific Ocean to the east, Anzac Parade to the west, residential housing to the north and the Prince Henry Estate to the south, is expected is subdivided into multiple development lots.
Meriton head Harry Triguboff’s track record of passing plans through state channels has residents and officials opposed to the development concerned. Member for Maroubra, Michael Daley, said Randwick Council’s decision is likely to be sidelined.
“Many citizens have said ‘What Harry wants, Harry gets’ under this Liberal government,” said Mr Daley.
“Council I’m sure will knock it back and they’ll just run around behind the council and do a spot rezoning with the state government.”
Current rules allow developers to apply directly with the state even after being by denied local Council, through the Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel.
Save Little Bay Action Group protested the rezone plan with 400 residents on October 27. Leader of Save Little Bay, Olde Lorenzen, said the community are wary that Triguboff “always wins at state level”. But he is adamant the plan has no chance of progressing.
“We are 100% certain that the Meriton proposal has no merit and will not get approved,” said Lorenzen. It is not only because of the huge and unanimous opposition within the local community, underpinned by 5,800+ online petitions, and hundreds of email and paper submissions to Council within only 5 weeks – but the proposal also has no strategic merit.”
The proposal is under preliminary assessment with Randwick Council. They will consult an independent advice panel in December.
The Department of Planning, Environment and Industry will ultimately decide whether to issue a gateway determination and allow the rezone decision to go to public consultation.
Transforming into Cruise Hub
Triguboff is pushing for high-density accommodation in the area, to correlate with the Government’s bid to build a Yarra Bay Cruise terminal in nearby Botany Bay. The developer revealed his complexes will accommodate the pre and post cruise market for vacationers staying before and after their trip.
“If we get cruise passengers, we will build serviced apartments,” he told The Australian.
However, lobby group Save Yarra Bay, which oppose the cruise terminal, says the future of Little Bay is tied up in dubious motives.
“Save Yarra Bay campaign is very supportive of the Save Little Bay Campaign because both [of] these developments have one thing in common – they are both about corporate interests working with Government, to bring inappropriate, and environmentally destructive developments into a pristine area.
“Harry Triguboff is backing the Government’s plans to build this expensive, destructive cruise terminal in Yarra Bay because he needs the Government backing… to push this preposterous high rise development in Little Bay.
“He will get his spot rezoning for being so “helpful” by backing … a cruise terminal. Interestingly, he has also thrown his support behind a Gold Coast cruise terminal as well.”
The Government is currently forging ahead with its plans and finding partners to build the terminal.
If Meriton get around a Randwick Council determination it won’t be the first time. Meriton appealed the Council’s decision in the Land and Environment Court in 2009 and received approval for 450 dwellings with a five-storey maximum. In September 2019, they applied for an amendment to increase unit numbers fourfold, and extend building heights to 22-storeys.
Towers at this height will block sunlight at the nearby beaches. There is no current transportation infrastructure to support the proposed new hotel and retail sites. Randwick Mayor Danny Said renounced the proposal for being “completely out of proportion” with the landscape and capacity of the area.
“Little Bay has a small village feel with a range of diverse housing, including low-rise apartments up to five-storeys. Meriton’s proposal would double the population of the suburb cramming up to 5,000 more residents into a small area. Residents of Little Bay are rightfully concerned about this proposal.”
According to Lorenzen there are also traffic concerns.
“The site is uniquely unsuitable to accommodate the additional traffic and number of cars the development would generate,” he said. “[It is] out of place with the unique character of the coastal natural environment … and nearby historic Prince Henry site.”
There is continued interest from other developers to transform the quaint Little Bay area into a densely populated Gold Coast-style metropolis. Just this week, a separate application for 45 new residential apartments on Jennifer Street reached a hearing in the Land and Environment Court. Developers appealed Randwick Council’s decision to knock back the site – which borders Kamay Botany Bay National Park – due to its environmental impact. Council opposed it on the grounds it will “have an unacceptable impact on the eastern suburbs banksia shrub and that the proposed development has a built form that is unsuitable for the site.” The outcome of the proceedings will be announced in coming weeks but Justice Moore made an interim decision and indicated that he would be willing to grant approval to the proposed development on the subject site and gave the Applicant a week to prepare amended plans.