Thornton Central plan hangs by a thread after Planning Panel’s surprise refusal

An artist’s impression of the Thornton Central proposal.
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Plans for a 553-unit development at Thornton have been dramatically derailed after a Planning Panel rejected the plan despite an independent review recommending it should go ahead.

A Planning Panel rejected the $200 million development last year but developers First Point Property and St Hilliers were confident they’d done enough work to have it approved after a Peer Review.

But earlier this month, the review by the Sydney Western City Planning Panel determined to refuse the project, primarily pointing to the community infrastructure offers made as part of the proposal.

The overall plan for the development on Lord Sheffield Circuit incorporates not only 553 units across various housing styles, but a childcare centre, medical facility and supermarket – as well as additional retail tenancies and restaurants.

It is seen by many as the final piece of the puzzle in Thornton, which has become a major community on the northern side of Penrith Station.

First Point Property Executive Director, Deborah Landes, said she was “gutted” by the decision.

The decision was surprising given an independent assessment prepared on behalf of Penrith City Council recommended it be supported.

“The site is suitable for the proposed development and will be in the public interest. Accordingly, the DA is worthy of support and is recommended for approval subject to recommended conditions,” the assessment said.

Penrith City Council had previously backed refusal of the development, with its position considered as part of the original Planning Panel decision late last year.

The independent assessment changed this position.

Landes will meet with Penrith City Council in an attempt to ensure the Panel’s decision is not the final nail in the coffin for the project.

“I would like to come to an arrangement with Council that pleases everybody,” she said.

“There’s got to be a middle ground that we could reach between all of us.”

Landes is not keen on pursuing a legal route to solve the issues.

In its determination, the panel said the application did not demonstrate the community infrastructure offers will provide sufficient value to Penrith as required by the Penrith Local Environment Plan.

“In the absence of clear evidence that the nature and value of the community infrastructure being offered would be of benefit to the Penrith city centre, proportional to the uplift being sought in the applications, the panel considered that approvals would not be in the public interest,” it said.

An artist’s impression of the development.
Troy Dodds

Troy Dodds is the Weekender's Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia's leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.

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