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.
Impacts of the proposed plans
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.
We would like to show our respect and acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of Dharawal Country, Elders past, present and emerging. We recognise all the Aboriginal nations who have a continuing connection to this country, sea, land and community, and extend our respect to other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.