Proposed development on Radiata Plateau in Katoomba has been knocked back by the NSW Land and Environment Court.
The court considered three development applications, refusing two dwellings on the plateau, but approving one dwelling on Pulpit Hill Rd, from which Radiata Plateau is accessed.
The matter ended up before the court after the “deemed refusal” of development applications and mediation between Blue Mountains City Council and developer Maharishi’s Global Administration and Natural Law did not result in an agreement.
The Blue Mountains Conservation Society, which made submissions against the development, has welcomed the court’s decision, but was disappointed the proposed dwelling closer to the existing houses along Pulpit Hill Rd was approved.
“The society and local residents have been very concerned about the true intention behind the development applications, as the owner had previously highlighted their desire to include a spa retreat, eco-tourism lodge and a boutique residential conference facility on the plateau,” said Blue Mountains Conservation Society vice president Tara Cameron.
But Nigel Kirwan, a spokesman for Maharishi’s Global Administration, said the dwelling was for residential purposes.
“This is a residential dwelling and its approval only permits residential use. It is not approved for short-term rental accommodation. Our organisation does not conduct workshops and the infrequent retreats we do conduct are not held in residential premises,” Mr Kirwan said.
But he wouldn’t rule out commercial activities altogether.
“It’s residential housing only. Obviously that doesn’t imply no commercial activities will be ever conducted from a private home office, nor is that prohibited,” Mr Kirwan said.
The majority of the plateau is private land owned by the organisation, which operates the Transcendental Meditation program. Currently the organisation provides public access to the plateau, which is a haven for rock climbers and bushwalkers, and Mr Kirwan said this was likely to continue.
“We don’t contemplate generally restricting public access. We do though intend to erect signage providing warnings about the dangers inherit in the landscape and personal liability that must be accepted by non-authorised individuals choosing to enter the property,” Mr Kirwan said.
The society will continue to push for the plateau to be protected by campaigning for it to be bought by government for incorporation into the Blue Mountains National Park.