Action on the Thirroul Plaza Development Application

The time for public comment on the new Thirroul Plaza DA close this coming Wednesday 27th. This was the subject of a second zoom meeting held at 4pm on Saturday 23rd. The minutes for this meeting are below.

The meeting decided to ask the TVC membership to, if possible, each make a submission on this issue. The process is straightforward. The process involves sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with the DA number DA-2020/363 in the subject field. This email can be as simple as saying "I object to this DA as it is too big for the site" or "I object to this DA because of the negative impact on existing traders". It can also be a comprehensive list of envisaged faults selected from this list as below or created yourself.

Yours sincerely

Murray Jones
Secretary
Thirroul Village Committee

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List of issues with the Thirroul Plaza Development Application

Community Engagement

21 days is not sufficient time for a community to properly consider plans and documents of $60million development that covers 9000 sm in the middle of Thirroul.Despite requests from Council Staff during various planning meeting developers held with Council, the developers did not conduct any engagement with the residents of Thirroul.

Two storey limit

The DA proposes three storeys. Page 23 of Chapter 12 of the Wollongong Development Control (DCP) plan clearly marks this area as having a two storey limit

Traffic; Traffic Lights and Parking

The proposal includes new traffic lights at the corner of King Street and Lawrence Hargrave Drive (LHD).  This leads directly to the loss of almost all street parking in central Thirroul (King Street from the doctors surgery east, and on LHD, both sides of the road from the Com Bank to Raymond Road will be clear of parking).  

Why have an effective clearway in Thirrouls busient pedestrian precinct when at either end, the road narrows to one lane in and out?  What will happen to the main street traders that depend on this parking.Also where will the patrons of Beaches and Anita’s Theatre park?

Mixed Uses in DA not balanced

This DA has around12 retail outletsa large Coles and 82 residential apartmentsIt should reduce the number apartments and add extraoffice space as a buffer between the residents and the music venues at Beaches and Anitas Theatre and possibly an open outdoor terrace dining on level one.

Thirroul Village Feel 

Some residents feel that the Village feel of Thirroul is what makes it special and unique and that a development of this size is simply too large.

Impact on Escarpment Views

This development proposal will adversely impact views of the escarpment fromtheVillage and surrounding streets. Consider whether this is something you think will be compromised by the bulk, and block like design of the proposal. Also consider whether the Heritage Impact Statement adequately address this – especially given that the Illawarra Escarpment is on the State Heritage Register. This may or may not matter to you. If it does, you should consider addressing it in your submission. 

Noise

Is there adequate soundproofing to protect the amenity of the residents of the 82 apartments from train and street noise. Alternatively, what effect might complaints from 82 apartment residents have on the proximate music venues, such as Anita’s Theatre, the Dance School on LHD and Beaches Hotel. 

Impact of extra traffic

LHD is limited to one lane each way because of the narrow bridge across the railwayin the middle of Thirroul and a similar one across Bulli Pass. The railway bridge has no bypass. If an accident occurs and traffic backs up across this bridge then there is instant grid lock. In an emergency, timely access is not possible. 

Thirroul residents have been concerned about this issue for over 50 yearsIs it not time for Council to connect existing roads on th eastern side of the railway through to Bulli?  This would double as a bypass to the Thirroul CBD and as an improvement to the Grand Pacific Drive.

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SPECIAL THIRROUL VILLAGE COMMITTEE (TVC) MEETING VIA ZOOM

Saturday 23 May 2020, 4pm

ATTENDEES: Murray Jones, Tony Horneman, Ray Smith, Paul Tuckerman, Martin Gorrick, Annette Jones, Peter Spencer, Louise Wellington, Ross Dearden, Catriona Caw, Helen Gibson, Stephen Young, Shaun, John Nicolls, Erin O’Dwyer, Stephen Le Bas, Roger West, Peter O’Reilly, Karen Cullen, David Ranson, Elizabeth, Jeremy Park, Kerrie Ann, Suzanne, plus 2 others unidentified.

Meeting started at 4.05pm

As Chair Tony informed participants that he would record the meeting, so if anyone did not agree to this they could remove themselves from the meeting. He also said that he would at first mute everyone so people could speak uninterrupted. 

The Secretary and select Thirroul Village Committee (TVC) members would have 5 minutes each to speak, and then 2 minutes for each participant who wished to speak. He explained the Chat feature and invited participants to send him, or others messages.

 

Murray

• Murray extended a huge thanks to Peter Spencer for the wonderful work he has done on the TVC website putting up all the images and plans – great way to disseminate information;
• aim of today’smeeting is to collect ideas and distribute minutes of meeting afterwards;
• asks participants to please email notes if you have them – will speed up minutes preparation;
• $60million substantial development – our response should be to aim for far better outcome;
• Concernedat reports he has heard that architects copping abuse

Process once exhibition process over:

• Wollongong City Council (WCC) will collate all submissions and put on spreadsheet – referencing areas of concern raised by submissions. This is a thorough process which could take months;
• issues identified from submissions will be responded to internally by WCC;
• then report will be prepared by WCC for Regional Planning Panel (RPP);
• RPP will then call a meeting to determine the Development Application (DA) -probably virtualdue to the pandemic – then allow people to speak;
• RPP makes decision – which is final – subject to Land & Environment Court Appeal;
• Murray also reported that a couple of TVC members met with Luke McKensey from Metcash, wholesale distributer for IGA. He said that Luke was concerned about the proposal and its potential impact on IGA Thirroul, plus the obvious impact that the removal street parking would have on the business plus the impact of the proposed movement of the bus stop;
• Luke made some helpful comments and the TVC members made no commitments to him.

 

Annette

• IGA meeting productive. Luke from IGA has a background in law and planning – provided the TVC with helpful advice – would like TVC to meet with him again before RPPmeeting - to discuss process and strategy;
• Luke spoke of benefit of large public meeting – where professionals– such as planners/architects/traffic consultants –come and talk to meeting.
• Aired concerns about aspects of contents of pre-lodgment documents obtained from by WCC pursuant GIPA request. In particular Annette pointed out the following comment at the bottom of the first page of the 27 June 2019 pre-lodgment notes:

“Development in Thirroul and traffic congestion is a contentious issue in the community and the proposal would be likely to generate a significant amount of community interest. "It is recommended that the applicant undertaken their own community consultation regarding the proposal prior to lodgement.” 

• noted that despite the WCC recommendation it appears that the developer chose not to consult with community, or TVC as recommendedbefore lodgment;
• Beaches Hotel a wildcard in Plaza DA; Annette referenced a pre-lodgment document which suggested that Beaches may be incorporated, at some unspecified point, into Plaza development;
• noted that public toilet on Lawrence Hargrave Drive (LHD)is WCC land- categorized as community land”; will need to re-classified as operational land if DA progresses;
• Traffic mentioned in June pre-lodgement notes – but traffic not mentioned in later December pre-lodgement notes.

 

Ray

• concerned abouimportance of establishing an agenda for moving forward. Ray asked that the meeting keep that in mind;
• Suggests participants ask themselves what they actually want to happen with DA? The whole thing thrown out? If not, should focus upon compromises and alternate development proposals;
• Suggested that all forums which have grown up round this DA try to keep the same focus.

 

Tony

• Tony invited a participant Stephen to raise question directed to role of TVC – both generally and in relation to the DA;
• Stephen asked about Thirroul Living; a FB group – queries its relationship to TVC;
• Stephen wants to know about hierarchy of Thirroul Community Groups;

 

OVERVIEW OF THE TVC:

• Murray says ‘TVC’began in 1991 with the first meeting called by Don Gray OAM, a long term resident who was concerned that the “Town was looking rather tatty”. The main effort was in gardening and improving the appearance of Thirroul.  This is still the case. More recently members of the TVC have been active in keeping an eye on proposed DAs in the Thirroul area to ensure compliance with planning controls. The TVC can have an input, but has no say on development approval.The TVC is aware of the importance of maintaining the village feel in Thirroul. More information is available on the TVC website - https://www.thirroulvillage.com/news/development-plans-for-the-new-thirroul-plaza
• Previously there was Neighbourhood Forum 3 (NF3), which was the official conduit for Council. However, that has now folded as nobody wanted to take up the official duties associated with this forum. Such a forum can be effective;
• Murray advises TVC role in relation to controversial DA’s is to be a source of information for concerned residents;
• Murray advises that at present there is no active coordination between TVC and other community and social media groups with an interest in Thirroul.

 

Martin 

• Discussed ways of ascertaining who were the stakeholders in the DA;
• referenced the article by Ben Langford in today’s Mercury and noted Mr Langfordaddressed the issue of ownership – including the names of people who reside in Austinmer;
• Martin said he had obtained ASIC records which further illuminate the article by Mr Langford;
• Martin said that ASIC documents are part of the public record and suggested that the TVC place these records on its website so that interested persons could study them; 
• he also pointed out that these records provides addresses for the persons referred to in them and suggested that people could write to such persons if they wanted to seek further clarification about the true ownership and control of the Thirroul Plaza;
• Martin suggested that the TVC need not provide commentary about the ASIC documents – just provide the bare, objective publically available information to those who might have an interest in it;
• Martin referred to his recent GIPA request to the WCC and advised that he had received a trove of documents in response to that request – he noted that Annette had already spoken about some of these documents and suggested that they be placed on the TVC website:
 
1. WCC pre-lodgment meeting notes dated 27 June 2019;
2. WCC “Design Review Panel” notes and report dated 30 July, 2019;
3. WCC pre-lodgment meeting notes dated 17 December, 2019.
 
• Martin suggested that Thirroul could be seen as the last surviving and dynamic 19th to early to mid-20th century Village in the Northern Illawarra. He suggested that Woononaand Fairy Meadow have lost their Village atmosphere – noting greetings from McDonalds as you drive into those former Villages. Corrimal is supermarket chain central; and noted that the WCC is currently contemplating allowing the Illawarra Coal Company to build a 16 story residential high rise apartment complex on the old Corrimal Cokeworks site. Bulli has a largely intact early 20th century retail strip, anchored by its magnificent Heritage Hotel. However, the Woolworths complex and garage stations now dominate Bulli - turning it into a traffic hub with heavily restricted parking on LHD.
• Martin expressed a concern he has about the inadequate role our elected local government representatives play in development in Wollongong – especially given that this is the WCC election year;
• He suggested that they justify this by saying that they have no part to play in the process when it comes to development assessment in the Wollongong LGA. Martin agreed that this was true, to an extent; however, he suggested that real power to control overdevelopment still lies with the councillors – who can make changes to the DCP 2009 – to ensure that the controls are more appropriate to the Northern Illawarra than at present;
• Martin suggested that persons making submissions pay careful attention to the WCC Development Control Plan 2009; and, in particular, Chapter D12 which is specific to Thirroul. 

 

Tony opened up meeting for general discussion

Traffic and Parking

• This is a major issue;
• one participant suggested that number of parking spaces allocated to residential unit holders be limited to one – on the basis that this would limit traffic movements and encourage unit holders to be less reliant on cars and instead to use alternate forms of transport – such as public/bicycle/walking; 
• A suggestion was made for timed parking with the money gathered going back to the community. However, this could cause issues in the back streets as people would not want to pay a parking fee;
• Concern that people who come to village won’t be able to access parking spots;
• Suggestion that there is a real cost to the community if have free parking;
• One suggestion was that as the development was near public transport that more people could use this to get to and from Thirroul. However, it was commented that the area is not well serviced by public transport which will mean more will use cars;
• There is a concern that if get rid of all street parking then the village atmosphere will be destroyed and businesses on the main street will close.

 

Submissions

• There are a large number of submissions already sent to Council via email and Planning Alerts that are of a good quality but preparing these takes time. Can the TVC offer suggestions as to what should go in the submission?
• Dot points in relation to the main issues – Traffic, parking, size and scale etc followed by comments would be a good idea.
• Erin O’Dwyer questioned the shortness of the DA exhibition period – especially given the limitations on gatherings/meetings during the Pandemic shut down; she also noted the significance and scale of the development  and the time it would take the community to properly prepare expert responses; Martin noted that this was a concern many people had expressed to him as well – but that we all have to “suck up” the fact that the WCC had only allowed a relatively short exhibition period for such as large development;
• one participant suggested submissions should be of best qualityto make an impact – asked if TVC could help with some pointers on its website; Martin said would get the ball rolling with some bullet point suggestions for issues to be considered in submissions;
• Agreed that the TVC would get together dot points and put these on the TVC web site for all to access, use as a base from which to work their individual submission and forward to Council. The dot points will be put on the TVC website by tomorrow afternoon.
• Ross Dearden, Secretary of NIRAG said it is often better for each submitter “to shoot their own arrow” – and that the number of submissions, and the genuineness of them – is as important as the substance of them;
• Ross said he had been looking at the traffic report but had not been able to determine the increase in traffic as a result of the development and pointed that this information may be available in Appendix Band C of the Traffic Study;
• Ross stated that the drawings in the Traffic Study indicate that future development is proposed on Beaches Hotel site.

 

Publicity and Strategy

• Erin O’Dwyer suggested a press release be prepared ASAP – and before the 27th – she offered to format and distribute it both locally/state wide/nationally – if the TVC provided her with the key issues as it saw them;
• Maybe a tag line “Fight for the last remaining village”;
• Erin said publication of press releases had a roll on effect – it legitimizes issues and provides support to online social media forums;
• Thisoffer was well received and TVC resolved to action it immediately. Thank you Erin.
• Louise Wellington said she has a social media presence and planning background and she has detected that large numbers of people are ignorant about planning processes in the Wollongong LGA – and are keen to learn more;
• Louise advisedshe has just set up her own Facebook Group called “Thirroul Community for Sustained Town Centre And that she already has 100’s of members. She is organizing a zoom meeting tomorrow, Sunday 24th at 4pm. Hopefully someone from the TVC can attend.

 

Traffic and other suggestions:

• Could the entry to the centre be changed to be across from Raymond Road?This would maintain the street parking.
• Rather than have the lights at King Street, could the lights, or a roundabout, be moved to Arthur Street, once again saving the street parking on LHD.
• Question about what is happening to the Beaches Hotel. There is rumor that it may be developed – hotel and apartments. Murray has tried to find out with no success.

 

ACTIONS:

• Minutes to be prepared and distributed tomorrow (Annette and Martin)
• Dot points that can be used uploaded to the TVC web site by tomorrow afternoon so people can use them as a base from which they can write their submission. Encourage anyone you know to write a submission by Wednesday 27 May.
• Dot points and information for media release to be presented to Erin by tomorrow. Murray to coordinate with Erin. 

 

NEXT MEETING:  Zoom meeting Saturday 30th May at 4pm.

 

 

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