Wollongong council will go ahead with its plan to heritage list the Corrimal Cokeworks, despite a plea from developers that they should not accept a council staff recommendation to do so.
At Monday night's council meeting, Illawarra Coke Company director Kate Strahorn spoke against the heritage push, saying the developers of the site - who hope to built more than 700 homes - believed it was "important that heritage should be considered holistically with all other planning matters for the property".
Heritage has become a major sticking point with the development since mid-last year, when development company Legacy Property went outside the council and gained private approval to knock-down structures.
To protect "high significance structures" like the old brick chimney and coke ovens from possible demolition, council obtained a six month interim heritage order, extending this for a further six months in October.
Despite the developers' actions, which councillors previously labeled "unacceptable" and an "breach of trust", Ms Strahorn said her company saw the coke works "as an opportunity to create an exemplar of urban renewal in Wollongong, that celebrates heritage as a key feature of the development".
"We have repeatedly promised not to demolish any aspect of the property's infrastructure until that is achieved," she said.
"It was not then, is not now and has never been our intention to demolish any structures of high significance other than in an agreed plan."
Cr David Brown asked Ms Strahorn if, "as a gesture of goodwill", she would be willing to give up the private certifier's demolition approval to allow the council and developers to work in a more frank and open way.
He said he had hoped this would remove a "road block" which has stalled negotioations over the housing plans.
But Ms Strahorn said she did not "consider that a reasonable request given that it's a lawful consent".
Pushing councillors to accept the recommendation for a heritage listing, Jenelle Rimmer said it was "a vital step in ensuring that we are considered in our approach and don't just bring in the wrecking ball".
"On the one hand we have developer saying they want to protect the heritage, and on the other they are tightly holding on to their approval," she said,
"Do we go ahead and trust them? Do we trust them to have the heritage protection at the forefront of their decisions? No, I do not."
I will not take a gamble on this."
Liberal councillor Leigh Colacino said it was important for the council to do its due diligence, in the form of the heritage order, and for councillors represent the views of their community.
"The community wants somewhere to live, and they also want to protect what we already have in regards to history," he said.
Councillors unanimously agreed to progress the heritage listing.
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