The University of Wollongong has withdrawn its $40 million plans for Gleniffer Brae, despite the likelihood of its planning proposal returning to the city council in January.
The university issued a statement late yesterday saying it was withdrawing its plans after Monday night's council vote against its proposal for a creative arts precinct at the site.
"The university had invested a significant amount of effort in developing a proposal which it considered would benefit the university, the Conservatorium of Music and creative arts community in Wollongong," vice-principal (administration) Chris Grange said.
The statement said the university would not make any further comment, leaving questions over the future of the site unanswered.
Questions also remain as to why UOW could not wait until the next council meeting on January 29 to see if a compromise position could be reached.
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said he would not give up on the plan and would look for ways in which negotiations could be reopened.
He blamed "ideological" opponents for turning what he called a "win-win" plan into a "lose-lose".
"The land wasn't going to private interests - it was just going to be transferred to another state-owned institution," he said.
"We're going to have to look at other options for the future of Gleniffer Brae, which are going to be expensive."
Under the plan, UOW would have leased the heritage-listed manor for up to 30 years, refurbished it and used it as a function centre.
On Monday, councillors voted 6-5 not to proceed with a proposal that would accommodate the UOW's vision for the site.
Cr Jill Merrin, who is undergoing chemotherapy, left her sick bed to attend Monday's meeting and successfully move the motion.
Cr John Dorahy, who had indicated qualified support for UOW's plan, missed the meeting as he was in hospital following surgery.
Cr Merrin's successful motion included seeking negotiations with the university for a creative arts facility to be built closer to the city centre.
Cr Michelle Blicavs had intended to lodge a rescission motion on the matter this week that would have seen the UOW's plans revisited early in the new year, a motion she expected to succeed.
"I'm disappointed, but I hope we will find a solution that meets the community's wishes," she said.
Cr Leigh Colacino said the council vote meant a "great opportunity" had been lost.
"It is also disappointing UOW didn't give those councillors who were willing to fight, the opportunity to fight for them," he said.
Gleniffer Brae Community Support Group convener Bess Moylan said she was disappointed the university wasn't interested in negotiating a compromise.
"I think that council has recognised that the process was flawed in the beginning," Ms Moylan said.
"They had operated outside any strategic planning framework ... this site needs to be seriously looked at and opportunities for Gleniffer Brae need to be discussed as part of a broad planning process that involves all stakeholders. [UOW's] vision was an admirable one, but the location and the planning process needed in-depth, complex strategic planning associated with it, not an EOI and a technical proposal."
But she was confident UOW would be able to develop a creative arts centre in Wollongong.