Notorious Anti-Development Council Downzones Development Sites

09/08/2012 10:38 pm

In a series of votes after midnight, Ku-ring-gai Council has overturned recommendations from its own planning staff and reduced the size of 18 projects in a decision that is likely to cost developers millions.

Developer Wallace Zagoridis who owns Arkibuilt, said the council halved the value of his $8 million site opposite Lindfield station when it cut two-storeys off his seven-storey project.

Five years ago, when he bought the 4000-metre site that includes a service station, the Ku-ring-gai Local Environment Plan allowed him to build a seven-storey development - two storeys of shops and businesses with five floors of apartments.

''If I was allowed to build only five storeys, I would have paid $4 million, but I paid $8 million and I have had it for four years paying bank charges … the problem I have is the bank will now look at the zoning and say it's not zoned for anything viable,'' he said.

''We have lost millions of dollars on the whim of the council vote to rezone our land without discussion or any justification.''

Another developer, Barry Murphy impacted by Councils late night decision with his site opposite Pymble Station being essentially downzoned. Part of  the site which Murphy bought in 1999 had already been approved for luxury units.

Planning consultant Andrew Minto, who represents Mr Murphy, Mr Zagoridis and three other owners whose properties were rezoned, said he doubted whether the government could legally gazette the new plan given the late-night changes were never put on exhibition and the same problem would arise.

''How do you have a site on the highway that's only for single storeys, that's just where you should have residential flats,'' he said.''

The mayor of Ku-ring-gai, Jennifer Anderson, was one of three councillors who voted against all the rezonings and sympathised with the developers.

''I did not vote for it, I am very conscious of the requirements for viability on sites for development,'' she said.

Cr Steven Holland was part of a block of six councillors who voted to rezone all 18 sites. He said he sympathised with developers such as Mr Zagoridis.

''So many different people are affected in so many different ways, some people are going to be happy and some aren't,'' he said.

That is little comfort for developers who have invested in the locality and continues to send a message that development isn't welcome in Ku-ring-gai.

The Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, will determine the plan approved by council but said he could not comment on it until he was briefed by his department which is awaiting a report from the council. This matter is likely to become a hot issue given that Ku-ring-gai is located within Premier Barry O'Farrell's electorate.