Sunday, March 11, 2012

Second chance for Kembla Grange factory outlet

by SHANNON TONKIN -Illawarra Mercury

Rejected plans for a factory outlet and homemaker centre at Kembla Grange could be given a second chance tonight.

Wollongong councillors will debate the $110million proposal for the second time in two weeks after Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich lodged a rescission motion against a council decision to reject the plans at its February 27 meeting.

Supported by Cr Michelle Blicavs (Lib) and Cr Chris Connor (ALP), Cr Crasnich will present a petition with more than 400 signatures to tonight’s meeting in the hope it will convince his fellow councillors to move the proposal to the next stage of the process - a NSW planning department review.

The three councillors have identified seven reasons for supporting the rescission motion, claiming that a range of benefits from the proposal were not addressed in the original debate on the issue.

‘‘The opportunity for community consultation and comment was removed by the council’s decision on February 27,’’ Cr Crasnich said.

‘‘This petition is a small sample size of how people feel about this proposal, and it’s obvious that it’s wanted.’’

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery used his casting vote to throw out the zoning proposal that called for factory outlet and bulky goods uses to be included in the site’s light industrial zoning.

His move has been supported by the Shopping Centre Council of Australia (SCCA), which counts GPT, Westfield and Stockland among its members.

SCCA deputy director Angus Nardi claimed that allowing the proposal to proceed would ‘‘make a mockery’’ of the planning system and ignore the council’s own planning studies and strategies.

‘‘The clear and long-recognised urban planning deficiencies of the Kembla Grange proposal should not now be overlooked by [the] council,’’ he said.

Mr Nardi rejected claims his comments could be interpreted as ‘‘anti-competitive’’, saying the SCCA welcomed retail investment and economic activity in the region, as long as it was in accordance with established planning rules, ‘‘as our members’ investments are’’.

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