Controversial mansion plan gets trimmed

Controversial plans for a "mega mansion" near Berry have been given the green light by Shoalhaven City Council's development committee.

Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said last-minute negotiations between herself, the applicant, the applicant's representatives and council staff had seen plans for what would have been a 1400 square metre building scaled down by 10.3 per cent.

However a final decision on the "deferred commencement approval" will now be made at Shoalhaven council's ordinary meeting on December 14 after the minimum three councillors voted against approving the $3.5 million project on Tuesday night.

Shoalhaven councillor Andrew Guile said the mayor's "behind closed doors" deal had only resulted in "token concessions on size".

Plans by Sydney-based builder Vince Battaglia for the Borrowdale Close property were rejected by the previous council - of which Cr Guile was a part - before the September council elections.

The latest application was described by council staff as "almost identical to the first", but staff recommended that development consent be granted.

"The whole process of dealing with this repeat application has been compromised by several factors which, in combination, create considerable concern," Cr Guile said.

He said these included a delay in changing the policy for buildings on rural lots that are more than two hectares in size as recommended by the previous council.

Under the amendment to DCP 91, which was on the agenda immediately after the "mega mansion" item, applications for buildings on rural land of more than two hectares, with an area guide of 800 square metres "may set a trigger where higher levels of assessment are appropriate".

Cr Guile said had that policy been in place earlier, it was more likely that the Borrowdale Close application would not have been approved.

Cr Gash said there was no reason why the policy amendment was dealt with after the plans for Borrowdale Close were debated.

"It comes back to the point that this development meets guidelines and we have to make a decision ... I am not going to let this issue drag on," she said.

"The fact is council staff had recommended this be approved previously and the applicants can go to court.

"The people objecting thought this project was too big and, after negotiations, a reduction will take place."

The decision came as the South Coast Labour Council entered the debate.

Secretary Arthur Rorris said he had raised concerns with Shoalhaven council's general manager regarding the approval process, and links between the property owners and the recent collapse of Southern Cross Constructions.

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