Multi-storey unit plans for Leura rejected

A controversial plan for 34 units on the highway at Leura has been rejected as too tall, bulky and out of character with its village gateway site.

Artist's impression of the 34-unit development.

Artist's impression of the 34-unit development.

Council had found 15 reasons to reject the proposed $11.6m multi-building unit complex.

These included that the height was excessive, there was insufficient space between units, it didn't achieve a form or scale appropriate for the site, there was inadequate landscaping proposed, not enough communal open space, insufficient allowance for waste management and collection and not enough parking.

The Sydney-based company behind the plan, H D Squared Developments, had failed to provide a contamination report and the proposal also failed to respond to the "neighbourhood character" of the western entrance to Leura village.

Council had concluded the proposal was not in the public interest and "approval ... will set an undesirable precedent for similar development within the Leura gateway precinct".

The matter was considered by a local planning panel last Monday. The chairman noted that the company has launched action in the Land and Environment Court, where the case would be finally decided.

Despite that, the panel itself also formally refused the DA, in particular because of the absence of a contamination report and no written request to vary the height development standard.

The land beside the off ramp to Leura from the Katoomba end has been vacant for many years. It was left over from the Roads and Traffic Authority after the highway upgrade.

H D Squared wanted to build three apartment blocks, two at three storeys and one four storeys high. A statement of environmental effects with the DA said: "The building assists in presenting the precinct as the gateway to Leura Village by providing a counterpoint to the Spires development diagonally across the Leura Mall roundabout."

The Spires is widely disliked within the Leura community, a fact pointed out by the Mountains branch of the National Trust in its submission against the 34-unit plans.

The Trust wrote the Spires was "generally regarded as one of the poorest examples of historically sympathetic architecture in Leura village".

The Trust was joined by many other residents who opposed H D Squared's plans.

The company is continuing to battle for the development with the case is set down for a hearing in the Land and Environment Court in March next year.