Councillors unhappy with Sawtell building

SAWTELL'S proposed $1.5 million supermarket building on the western side of First Avenue has been put on hold pending consultation between the developer and Coffs Harbour City Council.

At Thursday's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting, the last for 2006, councillors said they were unhappy with the design of the building's facade and its second storey.

But a similar $750,000 development proposed by the same company for the eastern side of the street, was approved by the councillors.

The mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, also promised to 'plug the loophole' in the Sawtell DCP which has allowed developers to sidestep the development plan's provisions for maintaining the small scale of development in the street, if they demolish the old buildings completely.

Coffs Harbour-based LKM Capital has applied to demolish buildings on either side of Sawtell's First Avenue and replace them with new two-storey red brick buildings.

Council staff had recommended approval of both developments, with some amendments to the facades of the replacement buildings in order to retain design diversity.

Planners said the Sawtell DCP did not prohibit removal or demolition of the heritage-listed buildings.

Coffs Harbour City councillors voted unanimously to defer consideration of 27-33 First Avenue pending further consultation on the setback, location and other concerns, and to approve the proposed redevelopment of 26-30 First Avenue.

"If we approve this sort of design, we will end up with a concrete canyon in what was a very delightful place to be," said Cr Rod McKelvey. "It will be the first nail in the coffin of Sawtell as we know it ? and that will be very sad."

Cr McKelvey said about 70 letters had gone out for heritage listings, but he wondered why council bothered, as it appeared a heritage listing was basically meaningless, since it did not mean buildings were retained.

Councillors grappled with the question of what was heritage, with Cr Featherstone questioning his own qualifications to judge a heritage 'look'; Cr Bonfield saying they could not be too prescriptive and Coffs Harbour had never had buildings of significance, but only 'cheap and nasty' while Cr Gavin Smithers said heritage did not have to be 'flash' to have value, but sometimes DCPs and guidelines contradicted each other and it was difficult to find information in a useable format on prioritising heritage items.

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