A $30 million plan to turn a steep bush block at the back of Keiraville into a closely-stacked site for 47 new homes should be knocked back by the NSW Government, Wollongong City Council planners say.
The contentious development will be considered by the state's Southern Regional Planning Panel next week, and more than 100 residents who have been fighting the plan since it emerged early this year have welcomed the council's backing.
In their recently published assessment report, council staff highlighted a long list of outstanding issues with the plan, which they say makes it "undesirable" and against the public interest.
They said the proposal to be known as "The Cosgrove" - which would include five buildings of three-and-four-bedroom homes - was "an overdevelopment of the site", despite being allowable on the residential zoned land.
They also said the developer had submitted "insufficient information" for the Rural Fire Service to issue a Bushfire Safety Authority for the area, which joins on to dense escarpment land, which means it is not clear whether the development conforms to the state's bushfire requirements.
Additionally, there were issues with stormwater runoff, environmental issues relating to the surrounding Illawarra Subtropical Rainforest and problems with the steep driveway access to the site.
Developers also did not properly consider the potential heritage impacts the development would have on the Illawarra Escarpment Conservation Area, or on the Aboriginal cultural significance of Mount Keira, the council said.
In a detailed development history of the site, the council revealed that the developer has been asked to completely withdraw the proposal and submit a new one "to address the extensive list of matters" which did not comply with the city's development rules.
However, despite initially advising that they would address some of the outstanding issues, in a letter dated August 5 the developer advised the council to proceed with assessment of the existing plans on their merit.
In 104 submissions made to the council over the development, residents' main concerns were about traffic, increased bush fire risk, land slippage due to excavation on the steep block and the way the 47 homes would look rising up the escarpment when viewed from key vantage points across Wollongong.
The group's convenor Yvonne Toepfer said residents were feeling "relieved and grateful" for the council's refusal recommendation.
However, she said they also believed the fight was not over, as there were still a number of state hurdles before the development was officially off the cards.
"The panel has to make their decision now, and we are hoping to impress upon the panel the extreme concern of the residents, as well as the extent of the other issues," she said.
"We know that this has still got a long way to go, and we hope that the council's report will mean that they refuse it.
"But it gives us very little comfort - because in our suburb we have seen other developments that have been knocked back by the council and by the independent panel, but then they can go to the Land and Environment Court and get approved."
In their architectural plans, the developers have billed The Cosgrove as being "nestled into the base of the Illawarra Escarpment where the native vegetation meets the built form of the Illawarra region".
The have touted its 360 degree views from the escarpment to the coastline and say the built form would be "integrated into the landscape to allow it sit within its surrounding environment".
"The buildings are to be designed so that they take full advantage of the views to the coast whilst respecting the privacy and amenities of the adjoining community," the plans say.
The panel will meet via an online meeting on September 30 to hear from the applicant and residents before making a determination.