Independent review hammers 'excessive' Gateway project

An artist's impression of the proposed Bass and Flinders Gateway development.
An artist's impression of the proposed Bass and Flinders Gateway development.

Plans for Wollongong's much-heralded Bass and Flinders Gateway development lack information and should not progress to the next stage of the NSW Planning process, an independent consultant has found.

In recommendations to the regional planning body, a team from Elton Consulting found the massive residential and commercial complex planned for the block bounded by Flinders, Keira and Campbell streets to be "excessive" and "out of context".

It said planned 48 and 60-metre buildings in the architect-designed city "gateway" - which would rise at least twice the current height limit of 24 metres - were not necessary and risked blocking sunlight from neighbouring developments.

The firm also said there were "gaps" in information about future traffic and social effects of the complex and questioned how the 14,681 square metre CBD site - which is currently owned by multiple parties - would be amalgamated to allow construction to go ahead.

Wollongong City Council owns about two-thirds of the prime parcel of land, which it agreed to sell to Malaysian-Australian consortium Gateway Wollongong in 2012 on the condition they develop a master plan.

Working with award-winning international architect Stephen Pimbley, the consortium revealed a complex of soaring apartment blocks which were said to mimic the Illawarra escarpment.

While this was well received by the public, the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) was asked to intervene in the planning process late last year due to a possible conflict of interest if the council were to remain as the major landholder as well as the planning regulator.

The panel will meet to consider a rezoning proposal, which would make way for seven buildings housing 278 apartments and 385 parking spaces to be built atop the former Quattro site, later this month.

In its assessment of the proposal, Elton Consulting said the planned zoning change - from B6 enterprise corridor to B4 mixed use - was "appropriate" but identified a litany of other problems with Gateway Wollongong's plan.

"Our assessment has identified gaps in the information provided and concerns are raised relating to the form and scale of development proposed and its relationship to surrounding development," documents to be considered by the JRPP said.

The consultants recommended the developer be asked to amend its proposal by reducing height limits and providing more information before the plans were considered further.

The JRPP hearing is scheduled for 11am on August 29 at the council's Burelli Street headquarters.


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