"Rise up against Rise" has become the battle cry of a South West Rocks group opposed to a new five and six storey unit proposal, but the developers are up for the fight.
Rise Projects is pushing ahead with multi-storey and multi-apartment plans. Meantime, Kempsey Shire Council is working to secure building height restrictions in line with community feedback.
A two-storey height limit outside of South West Rocks CBD, which includes 'The Rocks' development, is on the cards.
A building heights amendment planning proposal to align with the South West Rocks Structure Plan is currently on public exhibition.
An 8.5m building height restriction in most locations of South West Rocks is proposed to be added to the Kempsey Local Environment Plan (KLEP).
As the local plan making process moves through the stages, Rise Projects is trying to get its next stage locked in.
Opponents say the developer is attempting to take advantage of a loophole in the planning system, while the developer has their own concerns about council's fast-tracking of the height limit.
Rise Projects has submitted a new plan to Kempsey Shire Council to develop a nine-building complex of 282 apartments.
The first stage including 18 two-storey townhouses has already been approved and will go ahead as planned.
The developer is now looking to get approved four residential buildings up to five storeys with 108 one to four bedroom apartments.
Rise Projects will then look to construct another five buildings, this time up to six storeys, which will contain 175 residential and serviced apartments, retail outlets and 600 carparking spaces.
Managing Director, Daniel Pszczonka, says Rise was not aware of the height limits being proposed until October (2023) which was after the master-plan DA had already been compiled and presented to Kempsey council in the September pre-lodgement meeting.
According to Mr Pszczonka, council has acted to limit development via Land and Environment Planning (LEP) housekeeping provisions that are not intended for major LEP changes.
"Council has once again abused its planning rights to limit development on all remaining key development sites across South West Rocks," he said.
Council and community views
Voices of South West Rocks (VoSWR) and Kempsey Shire Council are calling on the community to have their say on the newest development application by December 20.
'The South West Rocks community has made it very clear that we don't want high rise," said VoSWR spokesperson Larah Kennedy.
"[South West Rocks] is a place of unspoilt natural beauty and this development will change the vista forever.
"The impact this development will have on the environment, the community and the tourism-based economic future of the town is unacceptable."
VoSWR believes the latest DA by Rise Projects is trying to take advantage of a loophole in the planning system.
"Height limits in the Structure Plan aren't official planning policy until they have been entered into the KLEP and signed off by the minister."
Kempsey Shire Council General Manager says council's position on building heights in South West Rocks is clear.
"We've gone through a structure plan process with the community out there [and] the community made it really clear [about] the area's where they want development and where they don't want development," Mr Milburn said.
"The three storey height limit is something that is pretty much across all the areas at South West Rocks in line with the structure plan."
What happens now
Mr Milburns says council has taken one step further to have the structure plan put to the Department of Planning and is currently on public exhibition so it can then be included in the KLEP.
"We're fast-tracking that area to make sure we are keeping in line with what the community is saying they want in South West Rocks," he said.
Due to the dollar value of the project (the development has a capital investment value exceeding $120M) it will be referred to the Northern Regional Planning Panel for approval.
Submissions to Kempsey Council will be used as part of its recommendations to the panel during the decision making process.
The South West Rocks building heights amendment planning proposal is on public exhibition until December 15.
Submissions regarding the DA can be emailed to email@example.com or call on 02 6566 3200 and quote DA2300926 as a reference.
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