Residents welcome rejection of development plans for former Caringbah High School site

The developer of the former Caringbah High School site says he remains committed to the project despite plans being rejected by the regional planning panel.

Michael Nasser said his family company purchased the property from the Education Department to develop it, not to onsell, and nothing had changed.

Mr Nasser said the inclusion of the adjoining Caringbah Bowling Club property in the project would need to be “reassessed”.

Sydney South Planning Panel unanimously rejected both the concept masterplan for the entire development, as well as stage one works.

The masterplan, which was released in 2016, included 656 apartments in 17  buildings from five to nine storeys, while the first stage was for 124 units.

Caringbah Bowling Club was to be included in the development, with a new clubhouse and greens.

Several local residents spoke against the proposal at the panel hearing.

Doug Clemson said the North Caringbah community was strongly opposed to the size and scale of the proposal, which would be “a desecration of one of the most important development sites in the shire”.

Mr Clemson said bowling club members had not been kept informed about arrangements.

Another resident, Tony Day, said there were 42 units in his block, while 124 units were proposed in a similar size area in the first stage of the development.

A consultant representing the bowling club said the executive was handling the matter, but a final agreement with the developer would need to go back to members for approval.

The consultant said the club understood the council's reasons for recommending refusal of the application and “further clarity is required between the club and the applicant”.

The panel found amendments made to the plans had not sufficiently addressed matters raised previously by council planning staff .

  They included that, in one part of the site, requirements had not been met to justify bonus height and floor space allowances.

“Given the lack of evident progress since the previous deferral and the concerns expressed by the bowling club’s consultant, the panel is of the view that a further deferral of the matter is not warranted,” the panel said.

“The opportunity presented by the large, well located site to provide a housing development with a high level of onsite amenity, well integrated into its Caringbah context and which complies with the relevant planning regulations and development standards has not been realised.”

​The panel found it was not a suitable type of development for the site, and approval was not in the public interest.

“Any revised development would need to demonstrate a much stronger resolution of the urban design issues,” the panel said.

The panel initially considered the application in May last year and gave the developer a chance to respond to concerns.

An assessment report by Sutherland Shire Council ahead of the recent hearing recommended again the application be refused.

“In an effort to assist the applicant in developing the proposal to a point where it could be supported, council provided feedback and met with the applicant on various occasions to resolve the outstanding issues,” the report said.

“Despite these efforts, critical issues that were raised when the proposal was initially lodged with council, such as the proper integration of the bowling club site into the masterplan scheme, remain outstanding.”