Thirroul Plaza DA Rejected

19 October 2022

After a two-year campaign, Save Thirroul Village are delighted by today's ruling in the Land and Environment Court (LEC) rejecting the proposal to redevelop Thirroul Plaza.

This decision recognises the significant issues inherit in the proposal and validates the long-held concerns of Wollongong City Council, subject matter experts and the local community.

Louise Wellington of Save Thirroul Village said: "This win is representative of more than just this DA. It feels like for the first time in a long time, the community voice and common sense are being considered with regards to the changing face of Thirroul village. Our community saw an opportunity to have a say on the place where they live and they jumped in wholeheartedly. How Incredible it is for everyone to see their voices heard."

We would like to congratulate Wollongong City Council and their solicitors for putting forward a powerful defence and for engaging with the community throughout this process.

We would like to thank the local media and community organisations who have worked to keep the community informed, notably ABC Illawarra, the Illawarra Mercury and 2515 Magazine.

Much of this success is owed to our incredible local community who have stayed engaged during this protracted and at times, frustrating process. We have always been proud to represent your voice in this matter and we remain awed by your tireless campaigning and unrelenting dedication to our amazing and unique village. 

We are hopeful this decision represents a change in the way proposals are considered for Thirroul. An approach which considers the needs of the many above the wants of the few is a step in the right direction and one which we and the community welcome.

Outcome of LEC hearing

Following is an extract from the Decision by the Comissioner.

Having appreciated the site and its context at the view, listened to and considered the submissions of the residents, reviewed the expert evidence, the submissions of the parties and undertaken an assessment of the application I am satisfied consent should be refused. My reasoning is contained in full later in the judgment, however in brief I find:

  1. That the built form of the development is incompatible with the desired future character of Thirroul Village Centre as detailed in Chapter D12 of DCP 2009. Further, that on merit, a variation to the building height development controls at cll 13.2 (a) and 18 of chapter D12 of DCP 2009 is not warranted as the objectives of the control are not achieved: s 4.15 (3A) (b) of the EPA Act. 
  2. I am satisfied that the proposed development application will have a detrimental impact on the heritage significance of the Illawarra Escarpment Heritage Conservation Area (Escarpment HCA).
  3. Further, I find that the development should be refused because: firstly, the acoustic assessment fails to provide sufficient information to evaluate the likely impacts of the operation of Anita’s Theatre on the proposed residential development; secondly, the development application does not sufficiently demonstrate how it proposed to accommodate or mitigate the existing acoustic impacts from the Beaches Hotel; and thirdly on the preceding basis I find that it is uncertain that the proposed development will provide an acceptable level of acoustic amenity for future residents. 
  4.  I am satisfied that each of the preceding likely impacts of the development are sufficient to warrant the refusal of the application: s 4.15(1)(b) of the EPA Act. They are not relied on collectively to establish an unacceptable impact sufficient to warrant the refusal of the development application.
  5. I note that both the public submissions and the evidence in the proceedings canvassed additional issues and matters. These included matters in relation to the external traffic impacts, loss of on street parking as a result of the proposed public domain works, and the acceptability of the amenity of the proposed apartments. Consistent with the obligation at s 56 of the Civil Procedure Act 2005, namely, to facilitate the just, cheap and quick resolution of the real issues in the proceedings, I have not made findings in relation to these matters as I am satisfied the aforementioned detrimental impacts of the development are sufficient for me to conclude the development application should be refused.

As a result of these findings, the outcome of the proceedings is that the appeal is dismissed, and the development application is refused.

The Thirroul Plaza DA

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 was presented to council four times and it consistently failed to meet council requirements. Due to the excessive time the developers took 'endeavouring' to deliver a compliant proposal to Wollongong Council, it 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?

The Land and Environment Court (LEC) heard the case between 25-28 July 2022. The first day of the LEC hearing commenced with a site inspection of the Thirroul Plaza site.

On this first day, it was fantastic to see hundreds of residents coming out for "Save Thirroul Village Day", showing the Land and Environment Court Commissioner the strong sense of place and community Wollongong’s northern suburbs residents have for Thirroul. Despite it being a Monday morning, in the dead of winter, it was really uplifting to see so many community members willing to demonstrate their support for a better outcome for the Plaza site.

We also received some wonderful press coverage from The Illawarra Mercury, WIN TV and ABC Illawarra.


WIN News


MercuryJuly2022 p5

ABC Illawarra Drive

It has been so incredibly frustrating that the developers were given so many opportunities to revise their plans and address the significant issues with their proposal. At no stage did the developers give any consideration to the serious concerns raised by the coommunity. Their final plans represented virtually no change from the plans submitted in early 2020.

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.

ElevationCompostie1The 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.


LEC in town Monday 25 July

The Land and Environment (LEC) will be in Thirroul on Monday from 9:30am where the commissioner will undertake a site visit to assess the Thirroul Plaza. This is day one of a four day LEC hearing to determnine the Thirroul Plaza DA.

TfNSW Traffic Plans - Thirroul Community Feedback

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.

Have a read of the report

Nick McLaren Interviews TfNSW about Thirroul Traffic Plans

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 interviews Louise Wellington on ABC Illawarra

Nick McLaren from ABC Illlawarra interviews Louise Wellington at the plaza dite to discuss the issues with the Thirroul PLaza DA.

Community Meetup held on 7 April 2022

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.



ABC Illawarra discusses Thirroul Flooding with STV

 Lindsay McDougall discusses flooding in Thirroul, and concerns regarding the Thirroul Plaza Redevelopment, with Save Thirroul Village.

What the community has said about the Thirroul Plaza proposal

DA 2020/363 proposes to construct 82 apartments across 6 towers, doubles the size of the existing Coles, includes shops and 3 levels of underground parking and services.
Council Officers are concerned about the proposal’s BULK AND FORM. It conflicts with the character of the village, dwarfs Anita’s Theatre, and blocks views to the escarpment.
Transport for NSW DO NOT SUPPORT the Plaza development. It will increase traffic congestion and road safety issues.
There has been a MASSIVE NEGATIVE response from the community. These quotes capture community concerns.
“The residents of Northern Illawarra have a voice and a strong one when it is united.”
“Let the plaza be something new and vibrant that reads with the rest of Thirroul.”
“The imposing visual impact of this inappropriate structure will severely compromise views.”
“The Gong is going to lose its tourism cash cow if it kills off the dwindling beauty of the Northern suburbs.”
“One too many blocks of villas, townhouses and the like and no new roads …”
“The size and scale of this development represents it perfectly … OVER THE TOP!”
“For developers to deliberately do this to the community, and to the council, is disrespectful!”
“It will destroy the village atmosphere of Thirroul.”
“… one of the Illawarra’s biggest drawcards is its natural beauty …”
“The scale of this has no place in Thirroul.”
“This is definitely not in scale with the "village" atmosphere that Thirroul is known and loved for, and what makes it such a happy peaceful place!”
“Our state planning system needs to change now.”
“Road, school and health infrastructure cannot support such a high-density development.”
“82 Units, absolutely not!”
“Overcrowding this area will absolutely destroy it.”
“I am vehemently against this proposal.”
“… a money making exercise without due consideration to the lives and safety of residents.”
“The village nature of Thirroul would be lost forever …”
“… no duty of care to the residents of this area.”
“The community are sending out a resounding loud NO.”
“The loss of on-street parking would be a major blow to the viability of our independent family-run stores and amenities.”
“Don't allow Thirroul to lose its magic.”
“The size, scale and build of this development is inappropriate for this site and area.”
“It simply does not fit in with the local landscape.”
“It is a village takeover with no consultation with the residents that live there.”
“It does not comply with the DCP.”
“The proposed development is simply out of character for the village.”
“This residential development is clearly potentially culturally dissonant, unpopular, disruptive and divisive for the community.”
“… the majority of residents are opposed to the negative impact the scale of this development is going to make on our day to day lives.”
“This new development will … affect the safety of the locals and tourists.”
“Keep the village culture and disallow the mass apartments.”
“This is a village not a high density living area.”
“Please put people’s lives above profit!”
“Without upgrades to roads, public transport, footpaths and schools in the area there should be no allowance for massive apartment blocks like this.”
“To lose the view of the escarpment … is a travesty.”
“Keep Thirroul safe. No more big development!”
“The escarpment view which is a notable feature of the Northern suburbs will be lost.”
“This is an arrogant proposal.”
“… it just leaves the residents with a town they never wanted or asked for.”
“Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.”
“… we do not have the infrastructure to accommodate the DA.”
“The development will be negative for traffic flow and pedestrian flow …”
“I object to the size of the development as being out of character of the DCP plan…”
“This development would adversely change the character of Thirroul as a small seaside town forever …”
“Thirroul does not need 82 new apartments …”
“Large scale residential developments such as the proposed, will negatively impact the village nature of the town.”
“I'd prefer a revamp rather than a knockdown and rebuild.”
“Maintain the village vibe and keep to two storeys.”
“Be true to the character of the village and honour the landscape please.”
“There is no way at all that this proposal is in the best interests of the community … it only serves the greedy!”
“The profits will be private, the costs are socialised.”
“The design of the facade is not in line with the rest of Thirroul …”
“The parking on the medical strip needs protection for the elderly residents to easily access the healthcare.”
“… it's about the residential component: designed with complete disregard for the heritage, safety and logistical constraints of the community.”
“We do not want to turn into a Sydney suburb, please let us remain regional.”
“There is limited space between the sea and the mountain so the planning should respect this fact and prevent density increase without infrastructure.”
“… I'm shocked and very concerned by the proposal introducing 82 residential apartments …This would have a tremendous impact on local infrastructure …”
“82 units is far too excessive for a small town with one road access.”
“I feel that the view of the escarpment is an important part of our identity and heritage and should be maintained.”
“The reason people love Thirroul both to live in and to visit is because of its sleepy seaside village feel.”
“82 apartments is 82 too many.”
“I am not anti-development but please put community ahead of profits and don't replace one eyesore with another.”
“I am disgusted that in such a small town this could even be thought of. I say hell no!”
“I strongly oppose this development! It is out of character, utterly barbaric and lacks complete common sense.”
“I enjoy live music, bye bye Beaches and Anita's …”
“A group of developers do not get to decide the future of a town.”
“This development will also threaten the very survival of Anita's Theatre and Beaches Hotel …”
“Overdevelopment on this site will lead to problems in traffic management, car parking, loss of street parking …”
“The traffic in Thirroul is a major concern already and we cannot place any further strain on the bottleneck …”
“The traffic in Thirroul is a major concern already and we cannot place any further strain on the bottleneck …” “… this development next to the pub is likely to result in noise complaints and an end to the live music as we know it.”
“Solve the traffic problem before increasing development.”
“The roads Cannot/ Will Not Cope.”
“One road in and out. Overdevelopment will ruin Thirroul.”
“This equals traffic chaos.”
“Infrastructure has not kept up with property development in the Northern Illawarra for years …”
“The increased traffic will create mayhem for commuters.”
“… will these units be sold with a 'noise clause' as they are so close to railway lines and live music venues…”
“… guarantee that the live music at Beaches and Anita's continues … we want to keep live music.”
“High density living is not appropriate due to the significant traffic issues already experienced in the immediate area.”
“New shops, yes. More cars on road, NO. It's a no deal.”
“… the impact on Anita's and Beaches hotel live music would be of huge detriment to the community.”
“82 units is far too excessive for a small town with one road access.”
“There is already a major problem with traffic and don't get me started on parking.”
“Parking at the schools, the medical centres and IGA will not cope with the potential increase of people and cars …”
“It will destroy the village atmosphere of Thirroul. Not to mention stopping all the wonderful music that comes out of Beaches on the weekend.”
“82 apartments in a small village with buzzing nightlife and already congested roads.”
“Imagine if local architects and urban planners were allowed to give us their ideas for a village space…”