THE decision on whether Woolworths will be allowed to build in Bermagui has been delayed once more after a convoluted discussion among councillors.
At Wednesday’s Bega Valley Shire Council meeting the staff recommendation to approve the Bermagui Woolworths development was rejected 6-3 with Crs Russell Fitzpatrick, Tony Allen and Michael Britten the only ones in favour of the plan as assessed.
Cr Sharon Tapscott foreshadowed a motion the matter be deferred in order that a report into possible reasons for refusal of the development application be further explored.
Her motion to defer passed 7-2, with Crs Fitzpatrick and Allen against, but the main discussion point was the possible widening of the laneway adjacent to the proposed Woolworths site.
The opportunity to widen the lane by three metres was raised by councillors during their site visit in February and later discussed with Woolworths.
Cr Britten had requested an amendment to the original motion to include a condition for the DA to allow for the widening.
However, BVSC group manager for planning Andrew Woodley advised such a request could mean the entire proposed building would shift by the three metres and therefore require amended reports into its environmental, noise and social impact, a further period of public exhibition and a new report prepared for councillors.
Mr Woodley also said if the existing DA was approved and then a request for the three metre shift made, it could only be achieved voluntarily on the part of Woolworths.
“I accept the intent of what [the amendment] aims to do, but the only lawful way that can be achieved is through a voluntary planning agreement,” he said.
“Staff have not assessed the design and application on that basis.
“We would need to see a design that incorporates that three metres and potentially exhibit it, receive public submissions and prepare a new report for council.
“We would still need to assess what the impact of that three metres was on the building, on the neighbours and on the surrounds and council would need the benefit of our assessment before making a decision.”
After the motion to approve the development was lost, Cr Britten attempted to include that same amendment to Cr Tapscott’s foreshadowed motion.
However, as her motion’s wording was specifically directed towards exploring options to refuse the DA, councillors became bogged down in discussions over for what they were actually voting.
Mr Woodley again held sway, explaining although he would help prepare a report “of matters under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, if any, that would enable consideration to be given by council to the refusal of consent” he would also put in writing to the applicant matters raised during Wednesday’s discussions and ask it to respond.
He reiterated that in the absence of a new DA, with the Woolworths building shifted by three metres, and all the subsequent reports and public exhibition period, any adjustment to the development could only be done if Woolworths agreed to it voluntarily.
In a deputation to the council, Woolworths development manager Wes Dose said the company was open to the proposal even though the current DA did not include the building’s shifted position, but said a trade-off of resurfacing any widened laneway rather than the current requirement to rebuild it could also be discussed.