The Land and Environment Court (LEC) will be determinign the Thirroul Plaza DA between 25 July and 28 July 2022.
On the first day, the LEC will be in Thirroul to inspect the site from 9:30am. The Commissioner will also hear objections from local residents and businesses.
Come down to Thirroul and have a coffee in one of the coffee shops and discuss the issues of the plaza plans with like minded people, then have a listen to the community and business speakers describing their objections to the Plaza proposal.
The long running Plaza redevelopment proposal has now found its way to the Land and Environment Court. And you guessed it, there’s another exhibition involved!
A quick recap of the proposal: It is a "mixed use development" over a 9,000 square metre site that includes a new three level development with a Coles twice (3 times?) its current size, 13 retail shops and 77 residential units across six blocks. There are also three levels of underground parking and services accessible from a single entrance only, via King Street. To make way for this, the proposal includes a new set of traffic lights at the corner of King St and Lawrence Hargrave Drive. This requires removal of virtually all street parking along Lawence Hargrave Drive outside shops and cafes in the heart of Thirroul. Car spaces in King St will also be lost.
The Plaza DA will now be heard in the Land and Environment Court between 25-28 July 2022. The developer has changed their plans again - the new plans will be exhibited from 30 March until 13 April. These are the final plans to be considered by the Commissioner of the court for them to make a decision about the development, and so it’s important that once again, the community has their say on these plans.
Reviewing the plans it is evident that none of the significant array of concerns raised by thousands of community members have been addressed.
A quick review of what is wrong with the proposal: introduction of a new set of traffic lights at King Street at the expense of a significant amount of street parking along Lawrence Hargrave Drive and King St, the bulk and scale of the design is out of character with Thirroul, loss of views from the village to the escarpment, introduction of 77 units into the heart of the village puts evening activities such as live music at risk, uncertainty of the impact to downstream stormwater network in large rain events, small business at risk due to loss of parking access.
Thirroul is under threat from the largest development proposal the region has ever seen, DA2020/363 - Thirroul Plaza redevelopment - a high-density unit complex to be dropped into the heart of Thirroul. This DA is of a massive size and scale. It is unprecedented in Thirroul, or anywhere nearby.
DA2020/363 has been presented to council three times and has consistently failed to meet requirements. Due to the excessive time the developers have taken to deliver a compliant proposal to Wollongong Council, it has enabled the developers to invoke a 'deemed refusal' clause and have the matter determined by the Land and Environment Court (LEC). The developers failed to deliver a compliant DA, and yet they were able to 'force' it before the LEC for determination! Does that sound reasonable to you? Due to the very late submission of plans by the developer, the hearing date has been rescheduled to 25-28 July 2022 (previously 19-22 April 2022), with the first day to be on-site in Thirroul.
The LEC recently approved the developers' request to submit a new set of plans before the April hearing which, you guessed it, will need to be put on public exhibition via WCC for community feedback, an imposition on Council staff and on rate payers' funds.
It's incredibly frustrating that the developers are being given ANOTHER opportunity to submit plans to address the significant issues with their proposal and that the responsibility will once again be on Council and the community to provide feedback.
What's even more frustrating is that they have already missed the original deadline of 23 February, set out by the LEC to submit their amended plans. The amended plans have still not been submitted and now risk delaying the LEC hearing and ruling.
The community is frustrated, Wollongong City Council must be frustrated, and surely, the LEC is frustrated. Why do we keep making allowances for these developers?
The developers will now have to explain the delay and may request an extension from the court. We hope common sense will prevail and the extension will be denied. This will mean they will have the matter heard based on the most recent set of plans submitted last year.
The proposed development will dwarf and overshadow the surrounding village, towering around two storeys over the shops opposite. We currently have wonderful views of the Illawarra escarpment. We have a great range of independent shops and vibrant locally run businesses, along old style shopping strips. Thirroul has a very low shop vacancy rate, perhaps even zero! Even in the challenging times that Covid has brought to businesses, the Thirroul businesses are still there.
The following images will give you an idea of the massive scale of the proposed development.
The photograph is taken near the corner of McCauley Street and Lawrence Hargrave Drive, opposite the Thirroul Plaza site.
Beaches hotel, at the centre of the photograph, a prominent landmark, surrounded by the Thirroul Plaza site, still allows signficicant open views to the escarpment, to the North and South.
The elevation view beneath the photograph is taken from the developers last submission to Wollongong Council.
Clearly, the proposed development will completely obliterate the views the community and visitors currently enjoy of the escarpment. The proposed development will close-in the shops on Lawrence Hargrave Drive, and surrounding streets, cutting the street off from the open view to the escarpment.
Significant too, is the shadowing that will result from the very imposing height of the proposed structure. This shadowing will rob local businesses and Cafes of their afternoon sun. Consider what affect the early loss of sunlight will have on the amenity and viability of business nearby.
There will be appreciable increases in traffic movements as a result of the proposed development. To support the increased traffic movements the plaza DA dictates removal of virtually all of Thirroul shopping strips' street parking.
At present the community and tourists can easily park in Lawrence Hargrave Drive and King Street to shop or visit the medical precinct. The street parking has very high turn-over, fueling and feeding the successful high-street businesses.
The entire community will be forced to sacrifice the amenity currently enjoyed if the Thirroul Plaza DA proceeds. This is wrong, a completely unreasonable sacrifice expected of the community and local businesses.
An entire community should not have to sacrifice so much to support the interests of so few.
Save Thirroul Village is not opposed to development. We would love to see well-designed development that will both support the village lifestyle and respect what is already there. The current plans fail dismally on all fronts.
The Feedback Summary Report on the proposed traffic improvement options for Thirroul was released last week. The report has captured and responded to community feedback received on the proposed traffic improvement options displayed in June and July 2021 for Thirroul. It was clear the community do not believe either of the proposed options would meet their needs.
TfNSW does not seem to make the link between them rejecting their own proposals for clearways and continuous lanes of traffic through Thirroul, sacrificing LHD Street Parking and the Thirroul Plaza DA inflicting exactly the same thing! How can a state government agency abandon their own plans, and then accept a set of plans, equally damaging to the Thirroul town centre, proposed by a private developer with private interests?
Nick McLaren from ABC Illlawarra interviews Louise Wellington at the plaza dite to discuss the issues with the Thirroul PLaza DA.
There was a great turn out at the community meeting on 7 April. We had standing room only at Club Thirroul. Have a read of the presentation.
Lindsay McDougall discusses flooding in Thirroul, and concerns regarding the Thirroul Plaza Redevelopment, with Save Thirroul Village.
A great piece from ABC Illawarra mornings, 18 March 2022. Wombarra residents commissioned a report regarding the sediment runoff at the Wombarra developmet site.