Wollongong City Council has been accused of having a ‘‘conflict of interest’’ in its objection to Delfin Lend Lease’s planned Calderwood development.
Lawyers representing Lend Lease yesterday raised questions in the Land and Environment Court over the council’s ownership of prime residential land at rival land release site West Dapto at the same time it was objecting to Lend Lease’s plans to start stage one work at Calderwood.
Lend Lease began court action after its stage one application, which sought permission for 231 lots and 120 medium-density dwellings, was refused by the Planning Assessment Commission last year.
During cross-examination of Wollongong council strategic planner Daniel Hodge, Lend Lease's barrister Peter Tomasetti, SC, said should subdivision rights at Calderwood be granted, the development would be in direct market competition with land at West Dapto, which included a portion owned by the council.
"Do you agree there's a potential conflict of interest [from Wollongong council]," Mr Tomasetti asked Mr Hodge.
Mr Hodge agreed there could be some conflict but said whether the council owned land at West Dapto or not did not change the nature of its main objection to the proposal, which for the court proceedings centred on discrepancies over how much money Lend Lease should contribute to local infrastructure.
The court heard while Lend Lease and the NSW government had already agreed on Lend Lease's responsibilities towards funding state infrastructure, the developer was in dispute with both Wollongong and Shellharbour councils over the amount it should pay locally.
Wollongong council has stipulated Lend Lease should be required to pay about a third of the estimated $34 million to upgrade Marshall Mount Road to a four-lane roadway (two dedicated traffic lanes and a breakdown/parking lane that could become a traffic lane during peak times).
The council also wants Lend Lease to contribute to improving Yallah Road, claiming traffic modelling shows a significant number of people living at Calderwood would use both roads when travelling to or from the estate.
However, Mr Tomasetti disputed the council's vehicle estimations and relied instead on Lend Lease's own traffic modelling to argue Marshall Mount Road only needed to be two lanes wide and the monetary contribution expected from Lend Lease was too high.
He also said his client should not have to pay anything towards the Yallah Road upgrade as Calderwood residents would not be using it.
"There's no need for this proponent [Lend Lease] to contribute towards upgrading Yallah Road," he said.
"Residents of Calderwood simply won't use it. Our modelling demonstrates the quickest route [to the F6 freeway] doesn't take in travel route along Yallah Road."
But Commissioner Tim Moore was not convinced by the argument and asked both parties to consider calling in traffic experts to support their opposing views.
The hearing is expected to conclude today.