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Waverley Council rejects Charing Cross planning proposal in battle against overdevelopment

A planning proposal for Charing Cross was rejected by Waverley Council last month. Photo: Facebook.

By SHARLOTTE THOU

A planning proposal that promised to transform the Charing Cross area into a “vibrant, active and pedestrian-friendly laneway, plaza and retail precinct” was rejected by Waverley Council last month after overwhelming backlash to the plans. 

The proposal sought to increase the maximum permissible floor space ratio and the maximum height of buildings, which “would allow for a greater yield of commercial and residential floor space”. The proposal received 104 submissions, with 102 objecting to the plan.  

The proposal was principally rejected as it was only backed by one of the landowners – the owners of the Robin Hood Hotel – making the site “too small to warrant strategic merit”. Moreover, the proposal failed to alleviate heritage disruption, waste, parking, traffic, residential amenity, and staging issues.  

Developers ‘too obsessed with making mega-profits’ at Charing Cross

‘Save Charing Cross – Waverley’, a Charing Cross Village Group affiliated with the Waverley Action Group, campaigned against the proposal. 

The group’s development application representative Danny Caretti stressed the group is “not against development” and explained that “many property developers have achieved a balance between redeveloping in the area, and making a profit while preserving the Heritage and low rise of Charing Cross Village”.  

“Yet the developers of ‘Charing Square’ seem to lack the imagination and spirit that has preserved and enhanced this special location … they are too obsessed with making mega-profits here,” he told City Hub.  

Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest told The Sydney Morning Herald that planning rules are “too strict”, and that council staff should work with developers to protect “genuine heritage” while enabling development.  

Carretti opposed this notion, citing examples of “commercially viable builds that have recently been constructed within the planning controls”. He explained that the current planning controls have allowed for development while protecting ‘genuine heritage’.  

“It would seem to us that Tom Forrest seems to be more concerned about increasing developer’s profits than he is on preserving heritage,” he added.  

Charing Cross proposal rejection not NIMBYism: Waverley Mayor

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos. Photo: Alec Smart.

The rejection forms part of the broader push to curb overdevelopment in Waverley.  

Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos told City Hub that “allowing developments that are against our local planning rules are the main cause of resident’s anger and frustration”.  

She dismissed the view that the proposal’s rejection is a sign of NIMBYism, saying “we have more than 75,000 residents in nine square kilometres, so further overdevelopment puts a strain on our infrastructure and environment”.  

Masselos said that Waverley Council is “being blamed for development decisions made by the state government” and vowed to “continue to work to stop overdevelopment in Waverley”.  

Ongoing overdevelopment has also led to the establishment of a community planning advocate to help combat the issue, endorsed by the NSW government.  

The advocate would undertake awareness for residents about planning matters and conduct regular consultations about the cumulative impacts of overdevelopment, as well as being “independent of Council’s Planning department”.

Masselos believes the advocate would help “demystify the planning process and help people understand the ins and outs of planning”.  

“We want to do everything possible as a council to ensure that our area grows in a way that is sustainable and healthy.”  

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