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Released by the Walter Burley Griffin Society Inc. and the Castlecrag Progress Association Inc.

The Land and Environment Court this week delivered a strong judgement rejecting a development application for a large new residence in the Griffin Conservation Area in Castlecrag.

The President of the Castlecrag Progress Association James Fitzpatrick and the President of the Walter Burley Griffin Society Professor James Weirick today said that the large community membership of both organisations would be very pleased with this outcome.

The case against the refusal by Willoughby Council, followed several amendments to the applicant’s development application for the site over the past two years.
In her judgement refusing the appeal concerning 95 The Bulwark Castlecrag, Commissioner Sue Morris said “The planning principles for the Griffin Conservation Area must be upheld to ensure that the importance of this area is not lost to large scale, non-sympathetic forms of development that do not respect the natural environment and landscape setting.”

Professor Weirick said, “The point of Willoughby Council’s planning and development controls is to preserve the principle that buildings should be subordinate landscape in the unique garden suburb of Castlecrag designed in by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin on the shores of Middle Harbour in the 1920s and maintained through community support to the present.”

The main issues in the matter were the size, bulk and scale of the proposed dwelling, whether compliance with the height control was unreasonable and unnecessary and the impact of the development on the Griffin Conservation Area.

At the Land and Environment Court site inspection, submissions were made to the Commissioner by Professor James Weirick, for the Walter Burley Griffin Society, Peter Moffitt for the Castlecrag Progress Association, and several local residents. In the Court, expert witnesses included heritage experts, arborists, and planners.

The Commissioner also found: “The Griffin Conservation Area is an area of high heritage significance and contains a number of individual heritage items. It is clear from the extensive planning controls that apply to the site and the clearly articulated statement of desired future character for the area that the community expectation is that development of the area will remain subservient to the landscape setting.” . . . “A merit assessment of the application has also shown that the application is not appropriate for the site in its context and that there are other design alternatives for the site which would meet the planning controls. . .”

The Commissioner found that the proposed development “fails the principle of being subordinate to the landscape setting” and “The dwelling is too big for the site”.

James Fitzpatrick said, “We commend Willoughby City Council on defending their judgement to refuse this application in the first instance. This judgement is thorough and recognises the unique values of the Griffin Conservation Area in Castlecrag. The Progress Association hopes that this will provide a strong indication of the importance of the Griffin legacy, and the need for future developments throughout the suburb to observe the planning controls which protect those values. I believe that the majority of the Castlecrag community would be very supportive of the court’s decision. We congratulate Willoughby City Council on defending this case.

The whole Judgement can be read on the Land and Environment Court website.