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Hill residents are claiming a "David and Goliath" victory after forcing one of Newcastle's largest developers to withdraw from a court case over the $67 million NBN studios redevelopment.
Land and Environment Court Senior Commissioner Susan Dixon invited a Keith Stronach company to discontinue its appeal over the 172-unit project after a barrister for Friends of King Edward Park argued the developers had not gained consent from nearby property owners affected by proposed drilling and mine grouting.
Barrister Tim Roberston, SC, had also argued that the company, Crescent Newcastle Pty Ltd, had not described how the grouting would be carried out.
Mr Robertson told the court that the grouting issues were an "impenetrable barrier" to the developer's case succeeding.
Friends of King Edward Park spokesman John Lewer said it was a "fantastic victory" for residents in and around Mosbri Crescent who had objected to the units as an overdevelopment out of character with the area.
The proposal attracted more than 170 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.
Mr Stronach declined to comment on Friday about the setback to the redevelopment and how he intended to proceed with the project.
Crescent Newcastle initiated the court action against City of Newcastle early last year over the council's deemed refusal of the Mosbri Crescent project, known as Sovereign Park. It was due to progress to the Hunter Central Coast Regional Planning Panel consent authority but did not make it that far.
Developers can appeal to the LEC under deemed refusal rules if a council takes longer than a prescribed period, usually 40 or 60 days, to assess a DA.
In this case, Crescent Newcastle's appeal allowed Friends of King Edward Park to apply successfully to join the proceedings.
Justice Tim Moore ruled in July that the community group should be allowed to join the case because the grouting was "a sufficiently significant issue in the public interest, and, indeed, an issue of comparative novelty".
Mr Stronach paid the Nine Network $15.65 million in 2018 for the 1.22-hectare site. Nine applied 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 2019.
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.
Friends of King Edward Park estimated that more than 110 grouting holes would be drilled at the site over up to three months.
A spokesman for the group's legal team said it was unclear how the grouting would affect subsidence under neighbouring properties.
"Our independent experts' evidence was compelling," Dr Lewer said.
"They identified critical concerns with the grouting of the site, very negative impacts on heritage, especially sight lines to and from our city's iconic Obelisk, and threats to the flora and fauna of Arcadia Park."
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