Legal showdown looms over major CBD proposal

The fate of vacant sites in High Street remains clouded. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Bold visions to transform the western end of High Street into soaring mixed use towers have been rejected, sparking future showdowns in the Land and Environment Court.

Earlier this month, Urban Property Group (Urban) and TOGA’s respective proposals for 614-632 and 634-638 High Street, Penrith were refused by the Sydney Western City Planning Panel (Panel).

TOGA’s $114 million Development Application (DA), lodged in March 2020, proposed the construction of a part 14, part 37-storey tower, including basement car parking, a five-storey podium containing commercial premises, 356 residential apartments and a new public road.

Similarly, Urban’s $110.5 million DA for the neighbouring site, which proposed a part eight, part 46-storey development comprising retail and office premises, car parking, 41 serviced apartments and 272 residential apartments was unable to get over the line.

On May 6, the Panel deferred TOGA’s determination to give it more time to address Penrith Council’s concerns, specifically regarding its community infrastructure offer.

The fate of vacant sites in High Street remains clouded. Photo: Melinda Jane.

However following the deferral, TOGA lodged a Class A appeal in the Land and Environment Court, prompting the Panel’s refusal.

“Given that no intention to make any significant revision to the DA has been communicated to address the merit concerns… the Panel resolved unanimously to refuse the DA,” the Determination and Statement of Reasons shows.

Urban’s community infrastructure offer was also a sticking point, as was the management of traffic generated from the development, however the Panel was not unanimous in its decision, with two of the five members preferring to give Urban more time to address concerns.

Urban CEO Patrick Elias said it was very disappointing and confirmed Urban would be taking the matter to Court in the near future.

“It’s quite unfortunate that it’s going to take another six to 12 months to get an approval on this, which is costly for us and costly for Council, and I think we’re still going to achieve a similar result to what was lodged,” he said.

The fate of vacant sites in High Street remains clouded. Photo: Melinda Jane.

TOGA’s Penway Place project, which included a 12 and 15-storey tower offering up to 187 residential apartments, had previously been approved in late 2019, but TOGA took advantage of new incentives provisions to lodge a larger development for the key site.

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