Rezoning of the Foamcrest Ave Newport Carpark
In March 2012 the Rezoning of the Foamcrest Ave Carpark was signed off by Sam Haddad as delegate of the Minister for Planning & Infrastructure. Following this sign-off Woolworths were free to lodge a DA for the development however as at June 2014 no DA has been lodged. There has been no indications from Woolworths that we are aware of as to whether they plan to proceed with this development or the timing of such.
History of this Proposal
Woolworths purchased private land adjoining two Council owned lots in Newport in July 2007 after entering into discussions with Pittwater Council prior to this date. At about the same time, the Council decided to call expressions of interest for the development of the publicly owned lots. We believe these EOI’s were not conducted in a fair and reasonable manner.
The Council employed Deloittes to verify the probity of the EOI’s after the event. However, Deloittes’ report does not cover the whole period of the discussions with Woolworths and contains disclaimers that make it largely irrelevant to the “deal” arranged by the Council with Woolworths.
Subsequently, the Council entered into a conditional contract with Woolworths. However, if the council had followed correct procedure, it would have put up its own rezoning proposal before entering into any contract. This would have enabled community consultation and at the very least would have ensured the Council receive the best price for this public land.
Woolworths subsequently presented a rezoning proposal for the council owned lots, showing “concept” plans only for a 3,500 sq.m. supermarket. No DA was issued. The Council employed independent consultants, SJB Planning, to assess the rezoning proposal. The community rejection of a huge dominating supermarket in the small village of Newport was a record, with over 1340 written objections received.
Some months later, the Council supported a modified rezoning proposal from Woolworths. Again there was a massive public outcry, with 1,225 written submission received.
After over 5,000 signatures had been presented, and some 2,565 written objections had been lodged, the Council’s consultants issued a report.
They rejected the Woolworths scheme. It did not, the consultants said, conform with the Newport Masterplan. In their report they said they were, however, instructed by the Council to draw up an “alternative” rezoning proposal. This new proposal, now ostensibly issued by the Council itself, in spite of the consultants’s earlier rejection of the Woolworths’ scheme, still embodies the basic premise of the Woolworths plans.
At this stage, the public were worn down suffering from “submission fatigue” but there have still been over 500 submissions objecting to the alternative rezoning proposal.
Residents felt there was a huge injustice in the way Pittwater Council had pushed through the deal with Woolworths in the face of objections that are a record in the history of Pittwater Council.
We believe the Council had shown administrative bias very similar to that experienced by the residents of Catherine Hill Bay (Lloyd’s Decision(41214 of 2008).
Since this council vote was taken there have been new Council elections (September 2012) which resulted in five (5) new councillors being elected.