Another stupid local government stance

The backers of a 30-level hotel and residential tower planned for Wollongong’s highest hill have been told to “suck it up” and alter their design or face having the project knocked back for good, according to the Illawarra Mercury.

Joint regional planning panel members gave the architects behind the $66 million Regent Street complex, known as Regency Towers, a “last throw of the dice” on Tuesday, deferring their decision until amended plans could be submitted for a later meeting.

Wollongong City Council planners had recommended the 4.5 star hotel be rejected by the planning authority, as they said there were several outstanding issues to do with floor space and building separations. Additionally, the council’s design review panel said the building did not achieve “design excellence”, according to the Illawarra Mercury.

However, PRD Architects chief Peter Rasa and Cardno planning consultant David Laing argued there had been problems with the correspondence from council planners which meant they had not had enough time to respond to the issues.

Mr Rasa said he did not agree with a number of design changes suggested by the council’s review panel, as architecture was “subjective”, however he had made some changes and believed the building was now in an “acceptable” state.

“This project is not another block of flats on top of the token commercial space,” Mr Rasa said. “It’s an iconic development on this site and will create an ongoing economic benefit to the CBD.”

Mr Laing said he was “deeply concerned” and surprised to learn the project was up for refusal, given its merit and backing from the community.

In making their decision, JRPP members said the building design had come close to being compliant but noted developers had already had three chances to work with the council’s planners.

Panel member Alison McCabe said, “To put it bluntly, you’re pretty well at the end of the game, it’s now actually time to take on board what the design review panel is saying because at the moment you’re not getting the tick on design excellence and you’re asking for a variation in floor space and height.”

The panel voted to defer their decision on the Regency Towers complex until December 1.

Meanwhile, the residential and commercial complex – known as The Crown – involves 14 ground floor retail tenancies fronting Crown, Corrimal and Burelli streets, as well as 317 units spread across four towers which range from nine to 15 storeys high. A series of townhouses will also be built around a four-level parking station.

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