A relocatable home village earmarked for Farley has been knocked back more than five years after the developer submitted the initial plan to Maitland council.
Maitland councillors unanimously refused the plan to put 225 relocatable homes on land between Owlpen Lane and Oxspring Road that has a significant amount of Lower Hunter Spotted Gum Ironbark Forest and provides habitat to five threatened species.
The applicant, Ravensfield Downs Pty Ltd, which has links to Hunter Land, submitted a revised plan on November 9 which had 185 homes and 17.2 hectares of cleared land - 6.4 hectares less than the previous plan.
Council's principal planner Georgie Williams said council had not formally accepted the new plan as it was not submitted with supporting information, updated survey efforts and had not been prepared in consultation with the applicant's ecologist.
She said the applicant asked for the matter to be deferred while supporting documents were prepared but that was not granted. The plan came before the council in October and was deferred so councillors could attend a meeting and receive more information about the plan.
"[The] applicant was previously advised, twice, that no further opportunities would be afforded to amend the scheme given ample opportunities have been provided over the course of five years," she said.
"Council's ecologist has undertaken a high level review and advised that despite a reduction in development footprint, the revised design fails to adequately address a number of key issues outlined in the independent third-party review."
Councillor Loretta Baker said Maitland had very little biodiversity left.
"I don't think anything should ever be built on this land, it's a threatened ecological community," she said.
Councillor Peter Garnham said the briefing with council planning officers put "all the facts on the table" including alternate designs."The way it is at the moment, it does not suit the layout of the land and the biodiversity shortcomings," he said.
Councillor Ben Whiting agreed it wasn't appropriate.
"The more you learn about it, the worse this development application looked," he said.
"It's completely understandable for anyone who looks at it that this needs to be refused."
Councillor Ben Mitchell said the development would only add to the problems that already existed in Farley.
"We still end up after all this work at a position where we're losing a huge amount of endangered habitat on an already threatened species," he said.
"There is no pedestrian access [in Farley], the road access is pretty limited and we want to cram more houses in there ... The large proportion of the suburb is already duplexes."
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