Buildings up to six-storeys high could be built in parts of the Kiama CBD after the municipal council voted to relax the height rules.
Though one councillor at Tuesday night's Kiama Municipal Council meeting felt that six-storeys - equivalent to 21 metres - was too high for the town.
At the meeting councillors were voting on a raft of changes to the Kiama Local Environment Plan, which sets restrictions on things like building height, floor space ratio and street frontages.
Among the changes, the section of Akuna Street sold by the council late last year to developer Level 33 for $28 million saw height restrictions lifted from three storeys to between four and six storeys.
"Increasing building heights to four, five and six storeys provides the opportunity for more diverse and mixed-use development that has the potential for an adaptable first floor," the council business paper stated.
"Retail, services and community facilities provide compelling reasons to work in and visit the centre and multiple reasons to return."
Elsewhere in the CBD, the height restrictions on the southern side of Terralong Street, between Thomson Street and Collins Street and parts of the Centrepoint Shopping Mall were raised to 14.3 metres - or four storeys.
The proposed changes were placed on public exhibition in September and October this year, where concerns were raised about overdevelopment.
"Height was the most prevalent concern that the community have with this site," the council papers said of Akuna Street.
"Concerns were raised that the proposed heights would put pressure on existing infrastructure, traffic, parking, overshadowing, bulk and scale, character, view loss, property depreciation, among others."
Cr Karen Renkema-Lang felt they needed more accurate housing targets across the whole Kiama before the councillors could decide if the easing of building heights was required.
"I also remain concerned as I did when this last became before council about the impact on the changes that the height limits will have on the character of the town centre and the visual and social amenity to new and existing residents," Cr Renkema-Lang said.
Greens Cr Kathy Rice understood that change was inevitable and the town could not remain the same forever.
"I fully appreciate and value the increase in density that's occurring in the town centre and can understand the contribution of the sites that have been located in this plan will make to improving the variety of housing available in Kiama," Cr Rice said.
However, she couldn't back the change the Local Environment Plan because of an opposition to some of the height limits.
"I still feel that part of the height that is proposed is not appropriate," she said.
"My objection is only to the parts of this development plan of the town centre that have been slated for 21 metres. I think the 21 metres is inappropriate for Kiama and for that reason I continue not to be able to support this."
Speaking in support of the motion, Cr Imogen Draisma said council had to deal with the "ever increasing need for housing".
"It is unfortunate we cannot take the view that we want no change in our community," Cr Draisma said.
"We are not absolved of our responsibility to provide additional housing in our LGA and to make planning decisions which also include the provision of additional services, additional businesses for our town centre."
Cr Matt Brown said the community had been waiting for a long time for the CBD to get an upgrade.
"They've been saying loud and clear that the town centre needs reinvigoration," Cr Brown said.
"It needs reinvestment, it needs a better look, a better feel and it needs better accommodation for residents and for businesses. That's what this is trying to do and that's why I encourage councillors to support it."
The changes to height limits and other parts of the environment plan were approved 6-3 by council, with councillors Renkema-Lang, Rice and Cr Jodi Keast voting against.
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