Wollongong City Council has passed a controversial motion that could lead to the construction of a large ‘‘industrial retail development’’ at Lot 2 Wylie Road, Kembla Grange.
At Monday night’s meeting, councillors voted in favour of a watered down motion to complete a report on possible ‘‘zoning and development options’’ available for the parcel of land.
The original motion, introduced by Liberal councillor Bede Crasnitch, sought to create a draft plan allowing an amendment to existing development laws within the West Dapto Local Environmental Plan.
It was the third time Cr Crasnich had brought forward developer Leda Holdings’ zoning proposal to make way for a 35,000-square-metre complex after it was twice rejected last year amid fears it would change the character of the suburb.
Councillors Kershaw, Connor, Blicavs, Dorahy, Colacino, Crasnich and Curran voted in support of the motion, while councillors Brown, Takacs, Merrin, Petty and Bradbery voted against it.
Those opposed to the development also raised concerns it would take business away from existing retailers, and that an exception to planning laws would create uncertainty in the minds of those wanting to invest.
During the heated debate, Cr Crasnich said the development was vital to tackle unemployment in the southern suburbs of Wollongong.
He said a large scale retail development was necessary to meet the needs of rapidly growing West Dapto.
‘‘Unemployment has increased particularly with youths... that is the basis for my ongoing support of this idea and concept,’’ Cr Crasnich said.
But Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery warned councillors against acting on the wishes of developers.
‘‘I warn you councillors do not go down this path,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
‘‘I commend Cr Crasnitch in that he wants to deal with youth unemployment.
‘‘Tonight councillors we are voting on good governance and probity,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
But Cr Crasnitch said he brought forward the motion due to public support for the development.
‘‘It keeps being mentioned, people keep bringing it to us,’’ he said.
‘‘Head to Newcastle, head to the Central Coast because business will be if we don’t support this.
‘‘I don’t do favours for particular companies. I represent middle class residents.
‘‘The only thing we can do is provide the right environment for jobs and growth.’’
Cr Crasnitch said people who shopped at factory outlets did so sporadically and it was unlikely the development would take business away from existing outlets.