Hammersmith – a law unto themselves in the planning process

The West Wallsend and Homesville community action group “Save Our Suburbs” has expressed outrage at the intention of developer Hammersmith to do away with small-lot, affordable housing in their 404 lot housing sub-division.

The proposed sub-division threatens to devastate these quite, tight-knit heritage townships and has long been a subject of controversy in the area.

“One of the key concerns with this development is the impact on the social fabric of our tight-knit communities” Said SOS Convenor Bernie Griffin “Gentrification caused by this type of development will see the eventual displacement of the very people who built these communities over decades”.

“Affordable housing is one of the few areas which can go a small way to address this pressing social concern” Said SOS Convenor Bernie Griffin “It is disappointing, to say the least, that Hammersmith has no interest in attempting to comply with the small-lot housing requirement, and instead, has decided to attempt to do away with the requirement holus bolus.  This confirms our belief that Hammersmith only has contempt for our communities”.

Hammersmith’s decision to abandon their responsibility to develop affordable, small lot housing with such a large proposal has come after the JRPP deferred a decision on the development last November. One of the reasons for this deferral was to ensure Hammersmith’s compliance with clause 24(2) of the LEP which requires small lot housing. “It is just shocking that instead of using this valuable time to make the development compliant with relevant instruments, Hammersmith has decided to use this time as an opportunity to wash their hands of this responsibility” said Greens Councillor Hannah Gissane

“The time between the last deferral and the next JRPP has been treated most opportunistically by Hammermsith, who have added another 29  lots to this already overwhelming proposal instead of addressing the outstanding issues” Said SOS campaigner Annie Freer

In order to defy schedule 2 of the LMCC LEP requirement for 10%-50% small-lot housing for subdivisions greater than 10 lots, Hammersmith will submit a SEPP 1 objection. The point of a SEPP 1 objection is that they can enable a developer to depart from a planning standard where the standard is deemed “unreasonable or unnecessary”. Greens Councillor Hannah Gissane said “Small-lot housing can often be seen by developers as a roadblock to profit maximisation. So far it would appear that Hammersmith’s reluctance to comply with planning rules represents a total misuse of the SEPP 1 objection. Planning stipulations cannot simply be done away so that even more money can be squeezed out of a development. Dispensing with this requirement undermines the Council’s position on facilitating and encouraging more small-lot, affordable housing”.

Lake Macquarie City Councillors remain united in their opposition to the development. Labor Councillor Jodie Harrison said “Just because a particular requirement reduced the amount of money a developer can make out of a development doesn’t make it ‘unreasonable or unnecessary’. Planning laws are in place so that everyone, not just developers benefit”.

SOS has continually raised issues with the actual proposal, but it seems also that the tactics employed by Hammersmith are continually raising concern. “When Hammersmith is proposing a DA that is so fundamentally in contrast to the community interest, they should at least be playing by the rules” Said SOS campaigner Annie Freer.

For Comment-

Bernie Griffin

SOS Convenor

49 532 504

Annie Freer

SOS Campaign Strategist

0448 442 814

Cr Hannah Gissane

Greens Councillor, North Ward LMCC

0429 910 290

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