The rezoning of the block on the northern side of Monro Park, Cronulla for a new pub and commercial offices has been approved.
Sutherland Shire Council voted 10-0 to amend the 2015 Local Environmental Plan (LEP) to allow increased floor space for the project. Three councillors declared a conflict of interest and took no part.
The Sammut Developments' proposal complied with the seven-storey building height limit, but sought an increase in density.
The LEP amendment now needs to be gazetted and a development application (DA), containing design details, submitted.
While an independent arborist report, commissioned by the council, painted a gloomy picture on the future of the majestic old fig tree closest to the development site, another arborist consulting to the developer was more positive.
Ross Jackson told the council meeting he had worked on this project from the beginning and, during his years as a project arborist, had managed stage one at Barangaroo for eight years, worked on the Sydney Football Stadium demolition through Lend Lease and the Woolworths store at Double Bay in conjunction with Woolahra Council.
"I believe the [Cronulla] project and the impact on the tree can be managed through the normal conditions of consent that apply from council," he said.
Architect Cameron Jones said the outcome of the planning proposal was largely the same as envisaged by council when they developed the LEP and DCP (development control plan), which was gazetted in 2015, earmarking the site for mixed-use.
"The idea of a fully commercial building on the site simply allows us to fill the void that wouldn't normally be filled if there was a residential building on site," he said.
"We are essentially filling those areas of the site that the ADG (Apartment Design Guide) would not allow us to fill.
"There will be no, or extremely minimal, impact or additional impact to Monro Park by overshadowing from the proposal we are putting forward.
"There will be no impact on the fig trees other than what would be expected by any type of development on site.
"There will be no, or very little impact, upon traffic in the area and this has also been confirmed by Transport for NSW and council staff."
Mr Jones said the proposal would "go a long way to revitalising the southern end of the mall, which is in desperate need of it".
"It will increase local employment opportunities, and we already have had numerous inquires from businesses in the CBD looking to come to Cronulla," he said.
"It will strengthen the night-time economy in Cronulla, provide additional food and beverage facilities and the proposal will dramatically improve the gateway to the mall and the beach, particularly if you are arriving by rail.
"You have a developer on board who has a proven track record of quality outcomes and who has contributed significantly to Cronulla and the shire."
Kerry Coomes, from North Cronulla Precinct Committee, said residents were extremely disappointed the council had supported the Planning Proposal going to Gateway.
"Of the 44 submissions, 42 were objections, one was in support and one was from City Planning," she said.
"The development is next to a rare, well maintained state heritage park and opposite the state heritage listed Cronulla Railway station.
"The State Heritage Council states in its submission the station is rare within the State Rail network and is considered to be one of the finest examples of architecture in NSW
"The building will not only impact on Monro Park and also the station and [the State Heritage Council] suggests there should be a stepping-back approach to the facade opposite the station.
"If council was aware of these listings why was a 25 metre building allowed in a position like this in the first place with LEP 2015?."
Ms Coomes said the council had acknowledged the negative impact on the two fig trees in Monro Park, with one predicted to live for possibly only 15 years instead of 40 plus years.
"For this reason, the council needs to ensure the building design enhances and preserves these trees, not detract or impact on them," she said.
"This was achieved by Westfield Miranda which made a feature of fig tree on Kingsway."
Ms Coomes said many residents, including returned servicemen and their families, totally objected to a pub being built in this location.
"It is not only disrespectful to the war memorial park, but it will destroy the good order of the neighbourhood when drunken patrons leave.
"We request council not allow a pub, but failing this, council needs to ensure any application for a pub must have restricted hours, 10am to 10pm.
"A security guard should also be hired for those hours of operation."
Leanne Farmer, who runs the Save Monro Park Facebook page, said the site was more suited to a retirement complex - three levels above coffee shops - similar to Sage by Moran, which is to be built near Cronulla beach.