This update is from an article published in the May 2022 Village Voice.
A DEAD LOSS: FUNERAL HOME DA GAINS APPROVAL
Following a hearing last month in the Land and Environment Court, the DA proposing to change the use of the former art gallery at 37 Ocean Street to a funeral home has been given the go-ahead.
As reported in the Village Voice last year, the community objected strongly to the proposal, with almost 200 written objections being submitted to council as well as a change.org petition.
The proposal was subsequently rejected by the Local Planning Authority on the grounds that it did not meet planning requirements regarding having a residence above the proposed commercial premises. However, the applicant appealed that decision and council subsequently advised that the matter would be heard before the commissioner in the Land and Environment Court on 4 April this year.
A group of six business owners and residents had the opportunity to present their objections at that hearing.
On 21 April council advised that the commissioner, Susan O’Neill, had upheld the appeal and the amended DA had been approved, subject to the conditions of consent.
These conditions included a requirement that the applicant decrease the height of the parking structure behind the premises ‘to mitigate additional overshadowing of the neighbouring property to the south’.
The commissioner also noted the following:
‘I accept that the residents’ concerns regarding the presence of dead bodies on the site genuinely affects their perception of the amenity impacts of the proposal, however, their concerns about dead bodies are in fact a fear or concern without justification in objective, observable, likely consequences.’
The residents group formed to rally the objections of residents and local businesses directly affected by the proposal funeral home are bitterly disappointed. The following comments were made to the Village Voice following news of the decision:
‘Based on the debate, we think the residents’ arguments raised the distinct possibility that council’s deal with the applicant is flawed in a number of aspects. It’s a shame to see council spend our rates supporting a use that is so firmly rejected by every surrounding resident.
‘When you look at how much money council wastes fighting DAs that are highly acceptable and then they fold and do a deal on this highly inappropriate proposal, we can’t help but reach the conclusion that the Woollahra Council executive has lost touch with the community they are supposed to serve, and the elected council is spineless to fix the problem.’
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