Thirroul Village Committee meeting Saturday 16th May 2020 regarding Thirroul Plaza via Zoom.

ATTENDEES: Murray Jones, Tony Horneman, Ray Smith, Paul Tuckerman, Martin Gorrick, Annette Jones


Redevelopment of Thirroul Plaza

There has been a huge amount of traffic about this issue on a variety of social media platforms. The TVC site has received its largest number of hits. Thanks to Peter and Murray for their action in putting information about the development on the TVC website.

Topics of concern: Traffic, noise, approval process.


There appears to be a disconnect between development and traffic. Council looks at each developments impact on traffic individually rather than cumulatively. This is the time when a full traffic study is needed. In addition it is the time for Council to devise an alternative route in and out of Thirroul. If an accident occurs and traffic is congested, as it often is, then timely access will not be possible. An alternative eastern route is essential and Council should look at this as a matter of urgency. Council needs to be pressured to look at and devise an alternative route.The traffic issue is not going to stop this development. However, this issue remains of major concern and needs to be managed.

The development is for shops and 82 apartments. It was reported that the development has 132 parking spaces for residents and 187 for retail. Currently there are 85 to 90 spots for retail. The question is will the car parking in the new development be free as is currently the case? If parking is not free this will cause major disruption for shoppers. The IGA carpark would not be able to cope with the increase in demand and there would be no on street parking as this will have been removed to cater for the traffic lights. It was noted that the plans show designated bicycle spaces, which is a positive.

Traffic lights have been recommended at the King St/ Lawrence Hargrave Drive intersection. This will result in the removal of 4 car spaces on the western side of LHD and around 5 to 6, plus the bus stop on the eastern side of LHD between IGA and Mccauley Road. In addition a further 3 places will be removed from out the front of Ohana Home as the bus stop will be moved there. The removal of these 13 car spaces on LHD will severely restrict on street car parking near the busy shopping centre. These spots are useful for those making a quick stop to purchase goods and are a feature of any high street. Removal of these will certainly have a detrimental impact on the businesses located in this part of the shopping centre and therefore not ideal.

Furthermore it is noted that the 11 car spaces currently available on King Street will be removed. Six (6) car spaces have been proposed near the bend on King Street, which is to offset the removal of these. 

The other issue associated with the installation of traffic lights at King St is the high possibility of the development of ‘rat runs’ along the back streets. This could be used from Morrison Avenue Wombarra south along Buttenshaw Drive through Austinmer to King Street Thirroul where they know they can easily turn onto LHD. This will be an undesirable outcome for those living in such streets as Redman Ave.  This could also adversely affect cyclists and pedestriansthat use these streets..

It was noted that there were a number of errors in the Traffic report. Firstly the traffic report refers to 3 lanes (chart in page 2). There are only 2 lanes in the shopping centre – one in each direction.  The other error is that the train frequency at Thirroul Station is reported as 4 minutes (Table 2.4 on Page 4 ). This is blatantly incorrect. The usual frequency is every 20 to 30 minutes and longer on the weekends. It is obvious that the report simply looked at arrival times on the timetable without considering if Thirroul was the end of the line or not. As the station has a siding trains often end and start at Thirroul. 

Sound and insulation:

An Acoustic Report was presented with the DA. This looked at 

• Traffic noise impacts from surrounding roads; 
• Rail noise and vibration impacts from adjacent railway and 
• Noise emissions in principal from mechanical plant to service the building.

Most notably the report did not look at noise emanating from the local music venues nearby. This is of major concern as the Beaches Hotel and Anita’s Theatre regularly have gigs to which hundreds of locals and visitors flock. The buyers need to conduct thorough due process before purchasing a unit. It was suggested that part of the purchase should include explicit disclosure that this development is close to large and loud venues as a means to halt complaints once they move in. In NSW there is an Order of Precedence which overrides complaints against such things as noise from existing businesses.

In addition there needs to be good sound proofing – of walls and windows to assist in reducing the noise from these and other venues. Double glazing of windows and higher spec insulation could assist. Another thing is the inclusion of office space, rather than housing, in the area close to the hotel and Anita’s Theatre. This could create a sound barrier. 

Another concern is the sound of the trains. The coal trains run regularly pass the site and often idle in the siding. The sound of brakes and idling can be rather loud, so any prospective buyers need to be made aware of this fact, especially if they purchase a unit on the western side of the development.

Regional Planning Panel:

As the development is large and costly (around $60 million) the Council is not able to approve it. The DA needs to go before the Regional Planning Panel (RPP). There is a need to check if all the concerns expressed by local residents will be sent to the RPP along with the DA documentation. This would include all those concerns expressed on the Planning Alerts page. The question was raised if the Council would make a recommendation to the RPP? Murray will write to Council seeking answers to these questions and ask for a response to be provided before submissions close on 27 May 2020.

It was noted that the building does not include the current toilet area. What is happening to this? It is probably owned by Council. There is a need to question this.


Murray to write to Council seeking clarification as to what information is supplied to the RPP by them and to request an answer before submissions close. Include in this a question to Council about what is happening to the existing toilet? Why is this remaining?

Other issues:

It was noted that there is no low cost housing as part of this development. Plus no provision of community space – only communal space on Level 1 for the occupants. 

Page 18 of the Statement of Environmental Effects states: ‘The upper residential floors are appropriately setback in the likelihood of future redevelopment of this adjoining site.’ This is in reference to The Beaches Hotel and raises issues about what, if anything is proposed for the hotel site. Murray to contact the hotel owners. 

There is a question as to where do Ward 1 Councillors sit on this issue? Their silence is deafening. It is an election year so maybe there is a need to canvas their feelings on the issue. There was discussion about including the publically available email addresses and phone numbers of the local Councillors and local MPs on the TVC web site. It was suggested we write to Ryan Park seeking a meeting with him. Ray agreed to do this.

Martin has sent an email to the National Trust about the proposed development seeking their input as the women who came to the TVC meeting on 28 April 2019 said that there were unique aspects to the Thirroul Village shopping area. Thirroul shopping centre is different to most shopping centres as it is linear in design. Most shops are on Lawrence Hargrave Drive. Most shopping centres have a large number of shops in the side streets. This unique design is worth conserving. Martin has not received anything back so far, so he will re-contact them.

It was noted that this development does not reflect the architectural design of the area.Although the pictorial images of the proposed building were in some ways superficially attractive, the design failed to reflect or pay regard to the surrounding architecture and built forms. Overall the design does reflect the unique aspects of a seaside resort village. It was further noted that the first sight for those arriving at Thirroul via train would be of this development, so it needs to be an appealing design from both the street and railway aspect. I It would be terrible if their first impression of Thirroul was the unattractive backside of an overdeveloped shopping/residential complex. It is important to see accurate visualisation of this “face” of the design proposal.

Martin is to submit a GIPA (Government Information Public Assess) request for notes relating to the pre-lodgment meeting between Council and the developers. 

The question as to who the owners/developers of the project was raised. The company is known as “Thirroul Plaza Pty Ltd”. Murray suggested an ASIC search be conducted to find out more as to who the owners are. It was unanimously agreed that the TVC use some of its funds for this search – around $50. Murray will arrange this.

It was noted that by removing the top (third) floor that the size of the development would be reduced by 10. This is the floor for which a variation request has been submitted. 

It was noted that the State Government is currently pushing for large projects to commence given the current health crisis. The timing of this DA was also noted. The fact that there has been no community engagement about this project is of concern. 

Annette was contacted by the editor of the 2515 Magazine to submit an article about the proposed Plaza Development for their June edition. This offer has been agreed to and Annette and Murray will work on a piece for the magazine.


Ray to write to Ryan Park seeking a meeting.

Martin to submit a GIPA request.

Martin to contact the National Trust.

Annette and Murray to prepare an article about the DA for the June edition of the 2515 magazine – submitted by Wednesday 20th May.

Murray to arrange an ASIC search. 

Murray to see if he can find out more about the intentions of the owners of The Beaches Hotel. 

5 Cliff Parade

There was general agreement that this dwelling should not have been approved.  The approval of this dwelling has unveiled a major fault with the development controls. The DA was first submitted as a renovation rather than a new build, which it is. Ultimately the entire old structure has been demolished and a large overhanging balcony constructed which hangs over the cliff face. This issue is a legislative matter and is tied up with private certifiers. The WCC could have reacted in a more decisive manner and avoided the current problem. 

Murray replied to Bob Cole, who is the contact with residents close to 5 Cliff Parade suggesting an approach to Councillor Kershaw to alert her to the issue and maybe raise it with Ryan Park, MP as it falls into the State Govt legislature. The first step should be to ask for to Peter Spencer to use his a drone to take photos of the dwelling and the overhang which can be presented to Councillor Kershaw and Ryan Park. Murray stated that Bob had replied (in his email to the exec dated 13 May) that he wanted to talk to his neighbours first before further action. So Murray suggested arrange for drone photos but wait to hear from Bob before taking this further


Paul to speak to Peter about use of a drone and let neighbours know before used.

NEXT (ZOOM) MEETING: Saturday 23rd May at 4pm.

More information about the Thirroul Plaza:


"A few extra thoughts from Martin Gorrick"

TVC Website:

• Forgot to mention at TVC meetingon Saturdaythe possibility of a blog/discussion board on the TVC Website; noting that these things can be problematic – and need constant monitoring to ensure no inappropriate /bullying content? However, as Ray noted after Annette circulated her Meeting Minutes yesterday, the community is hungry to share and express views about the DA. I’m sure Peter will have some firm views about this. Maybe existing social media are sufficient “platforms” for locals. 

Community engagement:

• Tony noted that there was no community engagement before DA submitted. Ithought this a powerful point – noting that the developer and the WCC had both “Pre-Lodgement Meetings” and pre-lodgement “Design Review Panel Meetings” with Council. 
• There is a deficiency in due process when such an impactful DA is workshopped before lodgement between WCC and Developer, without any involvement or inclusion of the community. This is especially the case given the that the developer and Council would be well aware of the TVC – and the position it has taken over the last few years in relation to overdevelopmentand traffic issues in and around Thirroul. 
I actually think it is insulting to the TVC that neither the developer norWCC sought our views at the pre-lodgementstage
• Would be interesting to know if any Ward One councillors were involved in these pre-lodgement meetings?

Public Toilets: 

• Still not sure who actually owns the land?
• if they are to remain (e.g. if inadequate public toilets in public areas of new development) then developer should pay to do them up and maintain them – rather than ratepayers; 

Mixed Use Development

• At the TVC meeting I noted that there is no provision for low cost housing or community meeting spaces in the DA. Murray noted there is no office space. 
• In a recent social media posting I read a comment by a local who queried why there weren’t any leisure/entertainmentfacilities in the DA
• I recall at the time the Jose Jones DA was determined by the WLPP that the owner/developer said he could easily accommodate an unmet demand for 120 patrons in his indoor/outdoor restaurant/bar. In other words, Thirroul has already shown it can support a venue of that type and scale and size.  
• Maybe a large indoor/outdoor entertainment/dining venue should be in the mix?
• A cinema?
• Bowling Alley?
• antique/retro Centre – with individual stall holders (the one at Fairy Meadow is thriving)
• The above suggestions might be slightly ‘out there’, but if the developer and the WCC canvassed community views before the DA and designs were prepared, it would have been preferable to the positon we are all in now – where just one design with one residential/retail mix (overwhelmingly skewed towards residential)has been imposed without prior consultation.
• Furthermore, the community has been given little time to mobilise. There is a great wealth of untapped expertise and experience in the Thirroul community – architects/town planners/business proprietors/traffic consultants and experts /locals who were born and bred in ThirroulIt is very hard to take advantage of these things when submissions are confined to a measly “exhibition period” in the midst of a social isolation and lockdown regime. 
• I think we should lobby the WCC for more time.It is also something we couldraise with Ward One councillors and on social media and news publications.

Statement of Environmental Effects: stakeholders in DA

• S of EE says report prepared forIndesco South Coast Pty Ltd. Seems Indescois a large scale national civil engineering and landscape consultancy which has recently moved into Wollongong. Go to:
• Both Murray and Ray noted references elsewhere in DA documentation to a corporate owner of the site: Thirroul Plaza Pty Ltd.

Statement of Environmental Effects: community involvement and response

• At page 48 of the S of EE, the author states: the proposal provides a “... range of retail, business and community uses that serve the needs of local people and visitors and encourages employment opportunities …”What “business and community” uses are provided for in the DA
• See also S of EE, page 67, Table 4, paragraph 1, where the author tries to demonstrate that the proposal meets the particular requirements of ‘Chapter D12: Thirroul Village Centre of WDCP 2009’As we know from our battles with residential DA’s, this is a very important planning instrument when it comes to development n Thirroul. 
• The only way the developer appears to address ‘Chapter D12: Thirroul Village Centre of WDCP2009’ is by stating the proposal is “mixed use”. Whereas the proposal is really nothing more than a massive residential complex wrapped around an unnecessary supermarket and about a dozen shops. There are no “business or community uses” I can see.
• According to the S of EE, the WCC informed the developer at the “pre-lodgement meeting:

“…that development in Thirroul and traffic congestion are contentious issues in the community and that the proposal would be likely to generate a significant amount of community interest” (page 17). 

• At the bottom of page 17 of the S of EE the author states:

“The main issues identified by Council are outlined below and a brief summary of how they have been addressed in this proposal”.

• The author then lists, (using unnumbered bullet points), the main issues listed by Council. The third bullet point on page 19 is as follows:

“Community response – This will be considered during the public notification period.” 

In other words, the developer chose not to ascertain “community Response” before lodging the DA –in circumstances where it appears the WCCwanted it to ascertain “community Response”.  

• I lived in and around EasRedfernfor over 25 years. During that time there was extensivepre-DA consultation within the community about (a) the proposed route for the EasternDistributor(b) the development of the Resch’sBrewerysite on South Dowling Street; and (c) the massive Green Square development in Waterloo and AlexandriaThis consultative process brought the community together – and these significant developmentswere thesubject of numerous public meetings – which resulted in significant and meaningful compromises (on both sides). 

Mixed Use

• The buyer demographic for the apartments is likely to be: investors; self-funded retirees and wealthy Sydneysiders looking for a weekend beachside getaway. I can’t see the development being an attractive or affordable place for locals or families to live. I suspect investors and second home buyers are the main target.
• Thirroul has proud and enviable tradition of hard working rail and coalmining      

families who worked and lived for the collective good of their community. There is very little low cost or public housing in the northern Illawarra – there should bemore in my view.  If a few apartments in the plaza DA were allocated to low cost housing they could be sold to, then managed, by a professional not-for-profit community housing provider. e.g

• Although not discussed at the meeting on 16 May it is interesting to note in theweekend’s delivery of dozens more submissions about the DA on “Planning Alert” the observation that the DA is “dressed up” as an enhancement to the existing plaza.
• One commentator said that the DA is really all about plonking a giant residential development in the middle of a shopping precinct. Another commentatorsuggested a roof top (or enclosed) cinema; or roof top open air restaurants. 
• The commentator’s point was that this DA is in the very heart of our village – it should service the Villagers – not privatise the heart of the Village by selling it to investors
• We all saw how well Jose Jones did – a mixture of indoor and outdoor dining and drinking and live music. 
• I am coming to the view, the more I think about this DA, and the more I read all of the incredibly considered and thoughtful commentary from residents in social media and “Planning Alerts”, that the DA is the wrong way around. It should have minimal residential and a healthy mix of commercial/retail/community and entertainment spaces and venues. 


• With a different “mixed use” (more community/commercial/retail-and less residential) parking and traffic would still be an issue. However, if the number of apartments was reducedthere would also be a significant reduction in the number of residential car “movements”. Further, anycommercial/entertainment related car “movements” would be staggered from morning to night, thereby lessening the overall impact. Indeed, I’m not sure we need another supermarket in Thirroul at all – the IGA is terrific; as is the Woolworth’s at Bulli. 
• If the supermarket was taken out of the DA traffic movements would be hugely reduced. The freed up space could be used for genuine “mixed use”; or used for apartments – as a trade-off for removing the third storey.
• Another commentator noted that the existing plaza car park is available to locals 24/7. Thus, when a band is playing at Beaches; or when there is a performance at Anita’s, or a kids’ performance at the Dance Schools, all the cars are parked in the plaza. 
• Do we know if parking in the new DA will be available, for free, and at night, to people who are patronising other places in Thirroul? If not, then all of the back streets will be choked with cars every Friday and Saturday night. Nightmare.


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