Factory outlet plan knocked back again

Wollongong City Council has maintained its controversial stance against a $110 million proposal to build a factory outlet and homemaker centre at Kembla Grange.

Councillors last night voted for a second time in two weeks to reject plans to build the 35,000 sqm complex on vacant land on Wyllie Rd.

Developer Leda Holdings and the site's owner, Total Recycling, had sought approval to have bulky goods and factory outlet uses included in the site's light industrial zoning.

The proposal was originally rejected in a narrow 7-6 vote at the February 27 council meeting amid concerns the "out of [city] centre" development would undermine existing retail hubs.

Those against the proposal also said it would reduce the availability of prime industrial land if it proceeded.

But Liberal councillor Bede Crasnich later launched a rescission motion in a bid to have the decision overturned, claiming a number of issues were not addressed during previous debate on the proposal, including the potential economic and youth employment benefits, and residents had been denied the chance to have their say on the matter.

Cr Crasnich last night presented a 520-signature petition to the meeting to back his claims the community "overwhelmingly" wanted the complex.

"This, more than anything else we have considered before, has received high support from the community," he said.

"We ran [for council] telling people we were going to listen to them, yet now the council has decided it won't."

But Greens councillor George Takacs said he was sick of seeing elected representatives make short-sighted decisions.

"We have an obligation to listen to the community, but we also have an obligation to provide leadership and explain to the community why we are making these hard decisions," he said.

"We need to think of the long-term implications before we make this decision."

Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery offered a more direct response to the wide-spread community support, saying "popular opinion" also elected Adolf Hitler to power in Germany.

"Popular opinion doesn't necessarily represent what is best," he said.

Councillors last night mirrored their February 27 voting patterns, with councillors Greg Petty, Vicki Curran, Jill Merrin, George Takacs, Ann Martin, David Brown and Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery outvoting Cr Crasnich, Leigh Colacino, John Dorahy, Michelle Blicavs, Chris Connor and Janice Kershaw to reject the plans.

Leda Holdings made a last-ditch attempt to sway councillors late last week when it presented them with a 25-page legal document outlining where council staff had gone wrong in their original report advising councillors to reject the proposal.

Prepared by Gadens Lawyers on behalf of Leda, the document slams the council report, saying it contained "12 material errors and two serious misrepresentations".

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