21 April 2024

86-unit seniors housing development worth $40 million approved for Merimbula

| Albert McKnight
Start the conversation

An artist’s impression of the proposed seniors housing development to be built at 83 Lakewood Drive, Merimbula. Screenshot: NSW Land and Environment Court.

An 86-unit seniors housing development has been approved for the Far South Coast town of Merimbula after the region’s council was taken to court to debate the $40 million proposal.

A development application had been lodged with Bega Valley Shire Council for the proposed facility at 83 Lakewood Drive. It originally included a five-storey building with over 70 independent living units as well as a four-storey building with about 10 independent living units, plus extra facilities, parking and landscaping.

During the public consultation period in 2022, council received 55 submissions listing a number of concerns.

These included excessive building height, bulk and scale, access to light and views, inconsistency with the existing streetscape and character, bushfire safety, environmental impacts, visual and acoustic privacy as well as traffic congestion.

In April 2023, the owners of the DA, which are listed as JFPG004 Pty Ltd, took council to the NSW Land and Environment Court to appeal against the deemed refusal of their application.

READ ALSO Toast cafe of Pambula brings winning ways to Eden’s beloved Sprout site: Say hello to Toast Eden

During a series of conciliation conferences between the parties, they came to an agreement on the terms of the proposal, including resolving issues originally raised by council.

These included building height, poor urban design and inconsistency with the desired future character and visual impacts of the town.

Also, agreed amendments to the design reduced the scale of the DA in key areas, reconfigured communal and recreational facilities to reduce potential acoustic impacts on neighbouring properties, and also reduced the total number of units from 89, which was the number that had originally been proposed, to 86.

In a decision this week, the court’s Acting Commissioner Matthew Pullinger said he was satisfied that the amended DA satisfactorily addressed issues raised in the public submissions. He said seniors living was “an identified social need within the local area”.

He did note the amended DA still proposed a maximum building height of 16.86 metres in part of the site, which was about three metres over the development standard of 13.8 metres.

But he said this would not result in adverse visual impacts, disruption to views or loss of privacy to neighbours.

The “site” in blue shows the location of the future seniors housing development. Screenshot: NSW Land and Environment Court.

Acting Commissioner Pullinger ultimately upheld the appeal, granted development consent to the amended DA and told JFPG004 Pty Ltd to pay council’s legal costs as a result of amending the application.

“As development consent has been issued by the court, the applicant can progress the development in accordance with the approved plans and conditions of consent,” council’s director of community, environment and planning, Emily Harrison, said.

“The Bega Valley continues to see the need for all forms of housing from social and affordable housing through to seniors living.”

She said as the DA had been a regionally significant development, the Southern Regional Planning Panel (SRPP) became the consent authority rather than council.

READ ALSO Gold Creek heritage scare but developers sticking to community deal

After JFPG004 Pty Ltd launched its appeal, the DA was refused by the SRPP in August 2023.

Ms Harrison said council raised a wide range of issues as “contentions” in the appeal, including the building’s height, but came to agreed amendments during their discussions.

“These amendments included reducing the height of the building closest to Lakewood Drive from five storeys down to three storeys and measures to mitigate acoustic impacts,” she said.

“The applicant also made an offer to enter into a planning agreement to provide a public footpath in connection with the development.”

The final amended plans for the DA can be viewed online at the bottom of the court’s judgment, which can be accessed by clicking here.

Original Article published by Albert McKnight on About Regional.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.