Council revisits planning demands

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

An ongoing planning conflict between property developers Citygate and Bunbury City Council has escalated to a State Administrative Tribunal mediation.

The council is expected to this week reconsider the conditions it put on Citygate’s development approval for retail showrooms at the corner of Spencer and Cornwall streets – the location of Beaurepaires Tyres.

The application was first lodged with the council more than six months ago.

In a bid to avoid legal costs if the matter proceeded to a SAT hearing, the council will this week vote on deleting several conditions placed on the development including keeping verge areas surrounding the property clear and a requirement for any changes or damage to existing infrastructure in the road reserve to be reinstated.

While Planning Solutions senior planner Ross Underwood – representing Citygate – has indicated Citygate agreed to most of the modified conditions, the developers look unlikely to budge on a condition to contribute more than $6000 to upgrade a footpath outside the planned showrooms.

The $6240 contribution has been a sticking point throughout the application process, with council staff claiming the “intensification” of the site by turning it into retail space would increase foot traffic that would require a footpath upgrade.

But Mr Underwood told council staff the condition was “shifting the onus” for footpath maintenance from the council to private landowners.

“(This) is not consistent with the process of orderly and proper planning,” Mr Underwood said.

“The replacement of the existing mixed business use on our client’s property does not warrant the upgrade of an existing footpath in the road reserve.

“To explain our position, we consider the change of use does not generate a need and there is no nexus that results from this proposed change.”

Mayor Gary Brennan said he was hoping the matter would be resolved quickly to “enable further investments into our city”.

“With these sorts of situation, we’re always trying to seek common ground,” Mr Brennan said.

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