Woolworths In Court Battle Against Mosman Council

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Sydney’s Mosman Council are facing a legal bill of close to one million dollars after knocking back a development application by Woolworths.

The case is being heard in the Land And Environmental Court, with the retail giant accusing the council of making up planning rules “on the run” in their efforts to block them from opening a store in the prestigious lower north shore suburb.

Mosman Council object to the store despite several experts claiming the application complied with planning regulations.

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The council is also on a mission to stop the NSW State Government changing their Scenic Protection Area Plan, which has seen local residents knocked back from having a garage on new homes close to the water because of what is described as “streetscape” planning,

The claims were made during previous legal action which sparked a backlash among some residents, who say the council is wasting ratepayers’ money defending Woolworths’ appeal.

Andrew Pickles SC will appear on behalf of Mosman Council, who are desperate to win the case. He will be assisted by Michael Staunton of Counsel instructed by Jane Hewitt, Partner HWL Ebsworth Lawyers.

The hearing kicked off with a visit to the Military Road site by Commissioner Horton – who is helming proceedings – and representative legal advisors.

Due to the large public interest in this matter, the Court has arranged for a Livestream of the hearing via YouTube.

A small group of objectors have been described as a “small noisy minority in the local community, who also oppose anything ‘new’ or run by a ‘big’ retailer.” They have already lost previous court cases against Woolworths, when the same Mosman Village Community Group cost residents more than $600,000 after the Land And Environment Court approved a Dan Murphy store.

The Woolworths-owned business is now one of the most popular retail outlets in Mosman, with none of the issues the objectors raised coming to fruition.

Among the Mosman residents who have been labelled as “serial objectors” to the Woolworths application are former Mayor Peter Abelson, who gave evidence in the hearing claiming he had the support of Mosman residents who he claimed objected to the development.

This sits in contrast to a recent study by ChannelNews which revealed that of 100 people asked whether they supported a Woolworths in Mosman, 92 per cent said yes.

Other Mosman residents who are set to support the Council’s objection and will present their claims to the Court include.

  • John Wakefield – Cabramatta Road
  • Jenny & Ross Heidtman – 713-715 Military Road
  • Brooke Johnson – 6/1 Belmont Road
  • Susan Lockhart – 1/28 Muson Street
  • Peter Twiney – 3 Cabramatta Road

In an effort to support their objections, Mosman Council has engaged the following experts Paul Davies (Heritage), Paul Grech (Town Planning), Richard Haydon (Acoustic) and Craig McLaren (Traffic Engineering).

Craig Covich, Mosman Council’s Environment & Planning, claimed in a memo that was leaked to Abelson that “Some of the contentions initially raised by Council have been resolved by amended plans (these were renotified), however there are still some matters in dispute, and the experts will be giving evidence on those matters. Loading dock, access traffic and parking are the main issues in the proceedings. There are some heritage issues still, however they may be resolved.”

Reading a prepared statement Abelson was cut short and asked to summarise his claims in the hearing.

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