City of Newcastle has placed amended plans for one of the city's largest residential developments back on public exhibition, but the controversial project is heading back to the Land and Environment Court for determination next year.
Developer Keith Stronach took the council to the Land and Environment Court early this year over its deemed refusal of the 172-unit Mosbri Crescent project, known as Sovereign Park, before it progressed to the Hunter Central Coast Regional Planning Panel approval authority.
The two parties reached an agreement on minor amendments to the proposal in May, the day after a court registrar rejected an application from Friends of King Edward Park to join the proceedings.
But Justice Tim Moore ruled in July that the community group should have been allowed to join the proceedings because its concerns about whether nearby landowners needed to consent to drilling and mine grouting under their properties deserved to be tested in court.
Justice Moore said his ruling did not address the merits of the group's argument, but he was "satisfied that there is a sufficiently significant issue in the public interest, and indeed an issue of comparative novelty, that requires it to be addressed".
Friends of King Edward Park spokesman Dr John Lewer said the ruling meant the group could also argue against the development on other grounds when it returned to court for a five-day hearing in February.
"We're arguing that, depending on the [land] title, in some instances the landowner's consent is required," he said. "Private properties will be affected. Some of them are old title, too, which means between here and hell you own the land."
The messy legal proceedings could present another significant delay for a $67 million project lodged with the council 20 months ago.
The proposal attracted more than 170 mostly critical submissions, including from Newcastle East Public School P&C, community groups and respected architect Brian Suters, and prompted a protest rally in April last year.
The complaints centred around the scale of the project, which is nine storeys at its highest point, and its impact on traffic, views, the nearby school and the amenity of the neighbourhood.
The revised plans for the NBN television studios site shave about one metre off each of the three proposed apartment buildings.
Mr Stronach paid the Nine Network $15.65 million in late 2018 for the 1.22-hectare site. Nine applied successfully to the council to rezone the land from low-density to medium-density residential before selling it.
The NSW Department of Planning endorsed the rezoning in April last year.
The project includes 11 two-storey townhouses arranged in an arc around Mosbri Crescent, 161 units spread across three buildings and parking for 242 cars.
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