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Council asks Thirroul Plaza developer to go back to the drawing board

Artists impression of the Thirroul Plaza development

IN a move that has been applauded by sections of the community, the developer of Thirroul Plaza has been asked by Wollongong City Council to go back to the drawing board.

The applicants, Loucas Architects, have lodged plans with Council to demolish the existing Lawrence Hargrave Drive shopping centre and replace it with a three storey commercial and residential complex.

In a letter obtained by The Bulli & Clifton Times from Council to the developer, dated November 27 2020, planning officers have recommended to the developer that they consider withdrawing their Development Application (DA) due to a range of issues, including:

  • Opposition from Transport for NSW – RMS: “Concerns continue to be raised that the arrangements proposed are not sufficient to minimise trip demand and the anticipated impact to through motorist on Lawrence Hargrave Drive.”
  • Concerns and non-compliance issues from the Wollongong Design Review Panel: “In summary, the DRP have raised a variety of concerns, which Council concur with, in relation to the urban design report and its establishment and consideration of urban design principles, including streetscape interface, use of communal open space, and break in the built form and consideration of views to escarpment.”
  • Environmental Matters: “The Thirroul Town Centre has a well-established level of operational noise associated with ongoing commercial activities, through traffic and the operation of Anita’s Theatre and The Beaches Hotel. Concern is raised that the introduction of residential uses in close proximity to these activities will prejudice the ongoing operation of these land uses, particularly, Anita’s Theatre and The Beaches Hotel.”
  • Traffic: “There are concerns that by meeting traffic signal design requirements, large amounts of on-street car parking would be lost which would impact on the viability of retail premises on Lawrence Hargrave Drive (customers no longer able to park outside many shops).”
  • Heritage: “The proposal may exceed the LEP height limit. Height exceedance is not supported on heritage grounds. Height exceedances will have the effect of impacting further on escarpment views than is reasonable, as well as detracting from the height and scale of the Kings Theatre as the dominant scaled building in the village.”
  • Planning Matters
  • Stormwater/Flooding

The application proposes a mixed use development comprising two levels of basement car parking, with commercial premises on the ground floor and 82 residential apartments on the upper floors.

The development, between Lawrence Hargrave Drive and the South Coast Railway, sits between King Street and the Beaches Hotel on the north, and W.F. Jackson Park on the south.

The proposal has been highly criticised by community groups, residents and political leaders on a number of fronts, including that the development would contribute to further congestion of an already choked Lawrence Hargrave Drive.

A spokesperson from Save Thirroul Village, a community group opposing the development, says despite Council’s recommendation for Loucas Architects to go back to the drawing board, that the fight is far from over.

“After seven months of campaigning, community consultation and significant personal investment, the local Thirroul community have come out on top in stage one of the controversial Thirroul plaza redevelopment,” a spokesperson said.

“This is great news for the Save Thirroul Village campaign, who have worked tirelessly for seven months and continue to oppose the development based on a number of outstanding issues that the Developer has refused to address, all of which align with the same issues brought up by Council.”

A Council spokesperson said the application for the development of the Thirroul Plaza site has not been rejected.

“Instead we’ve recommended that the applicant withdraw their application to resolve a number of significant issues that prevent the timely progression of the application,” the spokesperson said.

Loucas Architects have been approached by The Bulli & Clifton Times for comment. In a previous statement from Thirroul Plaza it said the aim of the development is to rejuvenate the suburb’s business centre by balancing a broad range of social, environmental and economic considerations.

“Designed to work within existing structures and heights, this project will deliver 82 residential apartments, double the floor space of the existing supermarket, offer space for 13 retail and commercial shops, improve parking and incorporate plenty of open public space in the central courtyard,” the statement reads on Thirroul Plaza’s website.

“Thirroul Plaza is set to generate $70 million in direct and indirect economic activity for the suburb. The development will support 2,000 construction jobs during the life of the project and 100 permanent jobs through its completed retail services.”


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About Mick Roberts

A Sydney journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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