Catholic Church granted discount in section 94 contributions for Empire Hotel redevelopment

Catholic Church granted discount in section 94 contributions for Empire Hotel redevelopment

Catholic Church granted discount in section 94 contributions for Empire Hotel redevelopment REBIRTH: An artist’s impression of the development on the Empire Hotel site. A series of changes to the development application have been approved.

TweetFacebookTHE CATHOLIC Church has been granted a discount in developer fees for its $30 million Empire Hotel redevelopment, despite thebid attracting fierce oppositionfromcritics who argued the churchshould be forced to pay its full share.

The Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) ruled in favour of the discount – and other changes to the original development application –paving the way for construction to begin on the 120-apartment development on Hunter Street.

It comes after aFairfax Mediapoll found 88per cent of respondents were opposed to the Maitland-Newcastle diocese receiving thediscount onitsSection 94fees, which exist to helpcouncils fund the additional infrastructure required as a result of new developments.

Deputy mayor Declan Clausen (Labor) alsohit out at the move, questioning how far the council had to go to “get it [the project] off the ground”.

But Greens councillor John Mackenzie, who sits on the JRPP, said the discount was granted purely due to the affordable housing component of the development.

“The driving factor in that waive of the Section 94 fees is to encourage all developers to …make sure they’re incorporating affordable housing into their plans,” he said.

“That’s available for anyone who wants to make housing affordable in the inner city or anywhere in Newcastle.

“I stand by the fact that absolutely we do have a housing crisis and the more ways we can use incentives and innovation to introduce affordable housing, the more we’re making a real impact on that crisis.”

At two per cent of development costs, the diocese’soriginal Section 94 contribution was roughly $577,000.

The affordable housing component of the development has been estimated as being worth $15 million, meaning the diocese will still owe thecouncil a contribution of $260,000 for the remaining private residential and commercial units.

The JRPP also approved other changes to the originaldevelopment application, including a newfloor plan, a 1.8 metre increase in height lifting the buildingto 15 storeys and a reduction in the amount of commercial and retail space on the ground floor.

The final layout will offer 54 residential units, 66 affordable housing units and two ground floor commercial units, as well as 128 parking spaces across two levels.

A spokesperson for the Maitland-Newcastle diocese would not be drawn on when construction would commence.

“The reason that the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle sought this modification was as a result of discussions with its partner – a community housing provider – on the future of this project,” he said.

“Now that we have this approval, we will consider our options for the site.”