A GROUP of Adamstown residents say a double-block set of townhouses proposed for their street is an over-development of the site, even though they acknowledge it meets the relevant planning guidelines.
The developer says he has made substantial concessions to the neighbours that he did not have to make, and that if he was "a big player with the money" he could have gone to the Land and Environment Court and pushed through the three-storey project that he'd initially proposed for the site.
The neighbouring blocks at 106 and 108 Gosford Road, Adamstown, have been the subject of medium-density housing proposals since 2003 and stand as an example of the increasing pressures that will face residents of inner Newcastle suburbs as the council moves to encourage "infill" development to meet growth targets that are in turn linked to state-based planning policies.
Planning authorities say inner-city multi-storey housing is a major way to accommodate population growth while minimising urban sprawl in distant satellite subdivisions lacking public transport and other public facilities. But this commonsense sounding theory hides the impact that "densification" can have on those who want to stay in their homes while the environment around them changes - they say - for the worse.
The campaign against the Gosford Road townhouses has been led by PhD student Gloeta Massie, and her mother Kathy Rowarth. Ms Massie is stuck in Queensland because of COVID border closures, but otherwise lives with her parents an adjoining house.
I ask, again, why the City is ignoring the households against this DAGloeta Massie
Ms Massie said that 57 households had objected to the development since it was first lodged last year. Concerns had been raised at two public voice sessions with the council: one in person, and the second one, after COVID, online.
In the latest of a series of emails to Newcastle City Council planners, elected councillors and others, Ms Massie said she was "deeply concerned" that the council's handling of the development was at odds with its 2017 "transparency" policy.
She said she asked "at the very least, that you invoke the right to postpone construction until the COVID-19 pandemic has passed by and people are free to leave their homes and travel freely again".
"No one should have to live next to a major construction site without reprieve because to leave is to risk a horrible death alone in an intensive care unit," Ms Massie said, referring to her parents being "trapped" next to the disruption of a year-long construction program.
She and other neighbours including Janice Watson and Ron Rowarth said they were not "anti-development". But the overall impact of such a project - including its size, the loss of trees, traffic and parking impacts, garbage issues and overshadowing - were being given insufficient consideration.
The developer of the Gosford Road properties, John Wallace, says he bought the two blocks late last year with existing approval to build eight two-storey townhouses. With a 10-metre height limit on the site, he lodged a new DA in October last year for a three-storey development. He said that after neighbouring residents made their opposition felt he had cut the project from three storeys to two.
"We were still at 12 units, but they were still unhappy, so we've gone now to 10," Mr Wallace said. "It's not ideal, and I have changed an awful lot at their request. The council planners have been fantastic. They've told me I didn't have to make those changes, but I'm trying to be amicable. I can understand people get upset but hopefully we have consensus now, and there is no reason for the council not to approve it when it comes before them."
Mr Wallace said the houses on that side of Gosford Road backed on to the Brunker Road precinct of the council's Adamstown Renewal Corridor. The Development Control Plan says Brunker Road from the Nine Ways to a block away from Glebe Road is open for "high density residential" with a target of 400 "additional dwellings".
The Gosford Road project goes next to the council's development application committee. Its next fortnightly meeting is on Tuesday night.
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