EXCLUSIVE: Five years of steadfast, unanimous opposition by Penrith Council has amounted to nothing after the State Government has controversially recommended approval of the construction of a hardware store on the former Panasonic site on Station Street.
Parkview, who owns the site, indicated in 2012 that they were planning for a commercial development including a Masters Home Improvement store and plaza contrary to Council’s plans and strategic vision for the site.
The decision by the Department of Planning to endorse the development has infuriated Councillors, who have long maintained that the site should be used for residential purposes.
“Council is very disappointed that its recommendations have not been heeded by the Department of Planning,” Penrith Mayor, Ross Fowler told the Weekender.
“Both Council and the local Member of Parliament we not in favour of the development of the hardware store on that site as it is in contradiction to Council’s vision for the city centre.”
Cr Fowler said it was frustrating that plans presented to Council in 2008 for a primarily residential development that complemented development of North Penrith were abandoned by Parkview.
“The owners came to us originally with a plan that book-ended the city with the development of Thornton and what they originally proposed was acceptable to Council,” he said.
In 2008, Parkview wanted to construct a 16-storey hotel and some 930 dwellings on the site, which is near Penrith Stadium.
In the current plan, stage one of the development includes the Masters store and car parking for 375 cars, with stages two to six including 570 residential apartments, retail shops and a tavern.
The estimated capital investment value of the project is $219 million.
Labor Councillor John Thain said that the decision is an “absolute outrage”.
“How can the Government give us a hardware store when that site was to become one of the crowning jewels of Penrith,” he said.
“We had the opportunity to do something special for Penrith and instead we will get this? It is an absolute outrage.
“It is going to be a boil in the middle of Penrith and should be lanced.”
But the Department of Planning disagrees, and stated that the development will “provide social and economic benefits to the city and region”.
“The Department’s reasons for recommending approval of the development are detailed in our assessment report. The independent Planning Assessment Commission will make the final determination on the project,” a department spokesperson said.
Cr Fowler said he can only hope that the Commission listens to Council’s concerns and acts on them appropriately.