WE DON’T want it, were the words reiterated among residents who vented frustrations about the Shellharbour City Hub project.
More than 80 residents attended the Joint Regional Planning Panel’s (JRPP) community consultation last night. The meeting was held in response to 87 submissions received during the JRPP’s development application (DA) assessment.
Twenty seven speakers passionately aired concerns about “secret agreements”, the “excessive” cost of the “luxury” council offices, the sale of assets and a council “obsessed with building monuments”.
One of the common frustrations was that the community felt they had been left in the dark about the project and one resident dubbed the project “the great lie”.
The JRPP is an independent body who assess certain local council projects on planning, zoning and building compliance. JRPP Southern Regional chair, Pam Allan, said matters of finance were “legally” not of relevance to the JRPP’s determination.
“We are focused on the planning issues. We approve or disapprove a DA on the basis of its planning merit,” she said. “How the council construct the finance is another debate.
“A lot of the people who spoke today mentioned planning issues, such as parking, and the bulk of the 87 submissions were relevant to planning and construction.”
Planning matters raised by residents in the meeting included a lack of parking, traffic and pedestrian access, building height restrictions and traffic volume.
Resident Mark Jones said the 169 car parks allocated for the hub precinct would be primarily used by council staff, which would impact other businesses in the area.
Resident Paul Hockey said the height of the administration building could be dangerous to aircraft flying into Albion Park airport. Mr Hockey also emotionally expressed concerns about the placement of the Peace Grove and Freedom Wall at the old Warilla council chamber.
Mayor Marianne Saliba spoke for the project, outlining that initial discussions on the project began in 1993, before the current council was elected.
“We are making the best decision based on the facts that we receive. We believe we are doing the right thing for this community” Cr Saliba said.
Crs Peter Moran and Kellie Marsh spoke in opposition to the hub, stating that there was no community consultation and councillors had not been properly informed.
Council’s general manager Michael Willis said that the hub project had undergone an extraordinary number of assessments by internal and independent bodies to ensure it meet strict regulations set out by the NSW Office of Local Government (OLG).
"The public briefing meeting is a part of the planning process, and it is important that those with concerns should have their say," Mr Willis said.
"Council too has provided the community with plenty of opportunities to comment, and they have.
Mr Willis said the Stop the Hub petition signed by more than n 10,000 people needed to be treated with some caution.
‘‘For example, some 600 signatures come from people outside the City,” Mr Willis said.
Ms Allan said a report will be prepared and then the JRPP will hold a determination public meeting, which is projected for October.