• Tony Bosworth

$7.9m Kurrajong shopping centre development kicks off

It was tried around a decade ago and was shouted down by many local residents but now a prime plot of land in the centre of historic Kurrajong village is slated for a $7.9m retail development which will likely see a shopping centre and restaurant or cafe, complete with underground parking.

The plot of vacant land earmarked for potential development

Back when Bencorp – a company helmed by local property magnate Matthew Bennett – came up with the idea for a similar development on the same land in 2010, opposite his family’s real estate shop, it ultimately didn’t go anywhere, perhaps not least because public sentiment at the time was very much against the idea.

There have been several other ideas spruiked over the years for the site - which Bennett Property currently part uses as a private car park - but none have got traction and all have fallen by the wayside.

But this time it may be different, not least because the planned development at 87 Old Bells Line of Road is costed at $7,881,426 on the Development Application which went into Hawkesbury Council this last week.

Any development over $5m is now decided by the Sydney Western City Planning Panel, an unelected group set up by the state government – typically with five members – who decide whether projects like this get the go-ahead.

Hawkesbury Council and its 12 councillors still have some say, in that they can recommend or object to the development, and council staff will give their advice too. Once that has been done the papers are passed to the panel, which then makes a final decision.

The project will be led by local builder Kurmond Homes – they briefly trumpeted in June on Instagram that they had bought the vacant lot – and they’re well known for their residential property building business, but if the development gets the planning approval go-ahead they said on their old post this would be their first venture into the retail building market.

The Instagram post was only up for a short time and then taken down as comments from locals rose on the social media platform.

We’ve had a brief conversation with KH co-owner Michael Kulakovski who told us his company wants to do the right thing by locals and said he’d talk to us in more detail about the company’s plans. We’ll have more on that after we’ve had a longer conversation with Mr Kulakovski and his brother, co-owner Peter.

The land – which is on a relatively steeply sloping site - had been for sale through Bennett Property for a lengthy period and a Sold sign has been on site for some time, though when we checked this morning the land appears to be still owned by the Bennett family.

According to Bennett’s own website the land is classed as residential and sold for $790,000 on April 7 this year.

We’ve been told by a source that the sale of the land will formally go ahead to the buyers if the DA gets the tick of approval.

At the moment, there is little information on Hawkesbury Council’s DA tracker aside from what the project broadly is – ‘commercial premises - construction of retail premises, Shopping Centre and Restaurant or Café’ – plus how much it’s slated to cost. Detailed drawings and the full scope of the project are likely to go up on the Council site in a week or so.

Despite the lack of detailed plans so far, one person has already commented on the proposal on Council’s DA tracking system, with wholehearted support for the project.

“I believe Kurrajong village needs this type of development,” they said on Wednesday. “Encouraging people to come to the village and for locals to enjoy more variety of businesses. Great news!”

There are a couple of big questions locals are likely to ask around the proposed development - if it does go ahead what does this mean for future development in the Kurrajong area, given this is a reasonably sized development – and will it open the door to similar projects?

We will of course be following the development’s progress closely.

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