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Freshwater development: Plans back before council to demolish iconic site

BIG PLANS: The iconic site at 50 Lawrence Street in Freshwater will be demolished if the development application is approved. Picture: Geoff Jones
BIG PLANS: The iconic site at 50 Lawrence Street in Freshwater will be demolished if the development application is approved. Picture: Geoff Jones

PLANS to demolish an iconic Freshwater property to make way for two commercial spaces and 11 shoptop residential apartments are back before council.

The development application (DA) is for 50 Lawrence Street, the site of the Freshwater House store and existing shop-top apartments.

A $3.348 million DA for the site was submitted in May 2020 and later withdrawn after 40 submissions from residents said it was too big, would overshadow nearby properties and was out of character with the village.

Friends of Freshwater were among those to make a submission for the original DA and president Peter Harley raised objections including: the height exceeding LEP limit of three storeys, non-compliance landscape allocation, bulk and overshadowing of the proposed development and removal/relocation of the accessible 139 bus stop on Dowling Street.

Freshwater resident Kirk Pengilly also lodged a submission and said this was the fourth major development in seven years and it has "completely ruined the heritage, family village style of Freshwater".

HIS SAY: Freshwater resident Kirk Pengilly, pictured with wife Layne Beachley, has spoken out against the previous DA lodged for the site.

HIS SAY: Freshwater resident Kirk Pengilly, pictured with wife Layne Beachley, has spoken out against the previous DA lodged for the site.

"I am beside myself with anger that I pay rates to a council that has let this happen," he said.

A re-worked DA, now worth $4.348m, was submitted to council last month, with the statement of environmental effects data reporting the building's "height, bulk and scale have been reduced through a combination of increased setbacks and additional facade articulation".

I am beside myself with anger that I pay rates to a council that has let this happen.

Freshwater resident Kirk Pengilly

"The building displays a more fine-grain approach including a greater level of streetscape activation to the retail and business tenancies," the report said.

"The landscape regime has also been amended to ensure that the landscape species proposed within the southern setback of the development will achieve a mature vegetation buffer to the adjoining property."

DETERMINED: Freshwater House owner Mae Casey will not be closing down if the development is approved. Picture: Geoff Jones

DETERMINED: Freshwater House owner Mae Casey will not be closing down if the development is approved. Picture: Geoff Jones

Owner of Freshwater House, Mae Casey, said the DA has left her extremely worried and she's against it being approved.

"It's not just about my shop, it's the look of the development and it's the entrance of Freshwater," she said. "People don't like major developments and the village will be full of trucks and dust. I haven't slept since I found out about it all."

Ms Casey said if the DA is approved her business would continue to operate and would temporarily relocate to another location in Freshwater.

"I'm not planning to close down my business, I'm doing well and my business is busy," she said. "The real estate agent says I'll get priority to lease the building once it's finished."

It's not just about my shop, it's the look of the development and it's the entrance of Freshwater.

Freshwater House owner Mae Casey

Submissions for the new DA close on Friday, July 9 and so far just six have been received by council. View the DA and make a submission here.

Meanwhile, hopes of a Supa IGA opening in Freshwater this month have been dashed with a spokeswoman for the Cremorne-based Karellas Group, which has six IGA stores around Sydney, saying it will not open during July and "it's on its way".

She added that advertising for staff for the supermarket was yet to commence.

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