Scotland Island Residents’ Association (SIRA) executive committee members and representatives from the West Pittwater Community Association (WPCA) and Church Point Friends (CPF) have been involved in several meetings with Northern Beaches Council Staff over the past few weeks to discuss the developments around the Pasadena site. It is important that we give the community an update and share what we know. We are receiving many questions from community members and read the conversations on social media.
Some of the History
As we presumably all know, the site of the current ‘Pasadena’ was the location for a restaurant, wedding venue, hotel, bottle shop and retail spaces for business such as real estate agents for many years.
In the early 2000s the owners at the time wanted to change the use of the site into residential housing, and retail. In 2002 and 2003, three development applications were lodged and refused. A last attempt to get approval for residential mixed with commercial use commenced in 2005 with a development application. Eventually the court gave consent, however, with conditions. The owners challenged the conditions and asked for a modification of the consent, which was refused in 2011.
Shortly thereafter the owners let the building go and it was sold at auction on March 28, 2012. It is important to note that Pittwater Council attempted to buy the building at this auction but was outbid by the current owners.
The current owners have submitted two development applications since they took ownership, both of which were rejected, amongst others, due to parking and design issues.
In August, 2017 the Northern Beaches Council and Rob Stokes, local member of NSW parliament, announced that they were funding acquisition of the site in order to return it to public ownership. If no acquisition could be negotiated, Council stated it would move to compulsory acquisition. In a media release Rob Stokes said, “Returning the Pasadena site to public ownership would further enable Northern Beaches Council to provide a key community precinct that preserves the area’s unique character and natural beauty.”
Within weeks of announcing the acquisition, the current works were commenced based on an approval given in 1963 – 55 years ago. A private certifier was engaged by the developer to issue a construction certificate for the current works.
The Questions Asked
There seems to be a disconnect between what we know Council is planning and what is happening on site. Why is construction happening when Council has publicly declared that it will move to acquire the site compulsorily or otherwise?
As Council is both the acquiring authority and the compliance body it has taken measures to ensure separation of the two roles. This has been done to ensure it has no unfair advantage in its negotiations with the owner to acquire the site. Each arm of Council is acting independently of the other.
- Environment & Infrastructure are working on the acquisition
- Planning, Place & Community are working on the compliance issues.
Council is in the process of making an offer to acquire the site:
- Council has appointed a lawyer to advise on legal matters.
- The lawyer has appointed a valuer who will establish the market value.
- The valuer is taking advice from a planner who will investigate the history, previous DAs submitted, land, location and anything else that is required to determine a value.
- Once the process of establishing a value is complete, an offer will be made. It is expected this will happen in February or March 2018.
- The offer triggers a 6-month resolution period.
- If agreement on price cannot be reached, then Council will proceed with a forced acquisition.
There is no recent development consent providing for a large (160 seat) restaurant and bar, so questions remain regarding legality of works currently being undertaken.
Council has advised that the developer’s certifier is acting on legal advice that the 1963 approval still stands.
Council hopes to have a position on the legality of the current construction within the next few weeks.
There are many factors that may determine the legality. There is the question of whether there are existing use rights. Can the 1963 consent be relied upon and what does this consent allow the owner to do? How does this consent capture current building standards, flood mitigation and accessibility requirements?
What Happens Next?
It seems evident that we can expect some developments over the next 4 to 8 weeks: the acquisition process is an important milestone and the development compliance questions will be answered. In the meantime, the owners say that a restaurant will open.
The SIRA Committee will keep monitoring the developments closely and keep the Community up to date.