An agreement has been reached between Central Coast Council and the proponent of a proposed boarding house at 51 Peel St Toukley.
The Land and Environment Court has to ratify the agreement and that is expected to happen sometime in the first quarter of 2023.
As part of court processes, the agreement details are confidential until ratified by the court.
Community group, Concerned Residents Of Proposal For Boarding, Toukley, have no idea what agreement has been reached and no idea when they will get to know the details.
Council Watch understands the agreement will be based on the latest publicly available plans despite a letter to residents that could be read as saying that more amendments have been negotiated.
But Council Watch understands that anyone who submitted objections to the latest proposals would have been notified if any major amendments to the latest plans had been proposed.
Residents rallied outside the site at 51 Peel St, Toukley, earlier this year when the Land and Environment Commissioner was due to visit the site to talk to all parties as part of a Section 34 Conciliation process.
At the last minute, the Commissioner conducted the talks via Zoom and residents outlined concerns such as the number of residents, lack of support services in the area, limited parking, and the suitability of the old building.
No agreement was reached but the conciliation process started again after the developer lodged amended plans.
Residents lodged more than 275 submissions in November when those amendments that were submitted to the court were put on public exhibition.
This week residents received advice from Council’s lawyer.
Discussions have been taking place in the community as to what the letter means about what has been agreed upon.
Has council agreed to the amended plans as publicly exhibited or have any more amendments been made, residents wonder.
They won’t know until a court decision is made.
Council Watch understands internal council staff have not been part of the negotiations and the letter says Council’s advice has come from an external planning consultant.
“Council has considered the submissions received during the notification period and the advice of their external planning consultant in relation to the amended application,” the letter said.
“The parties have continued to negotiate and have now been able to reach an agreement as a consequence of a number of amendments that have been made to the proposal.
“We wish to advise that the Council has instructed us to enter into a s34 agreement with the Applicant, and as a consequence, the matter will not proceed to a final hearing.
“We will inform you once a judgement has been delivered,” the letter concluded.
A member of the residents’ group, David Isaac, said the group had no idea what issues outlined in the residents’ 275 letters of objections have been resolved or agreed to by Council.
“It would appear that council has discarded our concerns but we won’t know until the court ratifies the decision,” he said.
He hopes the Council insisted on the owners appointing a community housing organisation such as Compass to run the boarding house and that they reduced the number of residents.
He said he had replied to the lawyer’s letter asking when the court decision would be handed down but had not yet received a reply.
Residents have been campaigning for more than two years about the development proposed for the former aged care facility.
The proposal was twice rejected by the Local Planning Panel before it went to court.
The proponents continued to refine the application and the latest amended plans included more ensuites, cooking facilities, washers and dryers.
But residents said there was no reduction in numbers, with the home having a capacity for 93 residents, making it one of the largest in NSW.
Council told Council Watch that “As the matter is still before the Court awaiting a judgement to be delivered, it isn’t appropriate for Council to comment”.
However, Land and Environment Section 34 Conciliation policy states: that if agreement is reached between all parties to the proceedings, the Court is required to resolve the proceedings on the basis of that agreement, but only if the Court is satisfied that it can do so lawfully.