Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper has sensationally called for Lake Macquarie City Council to scrap its plans to build a potential six-storey mixed-use development on Toronto foreshore.
The city's former mayor has weighed into the debate that has surrounded development of the Bath Street site, which has received strong opposition from many in the community, and called for councillors to start listening to their constituents. Mr Piper, who has had concept images designed to stimulate discussion about the site, delivered a private member's statement in state parliament on Thursday night outlining his concerns.
"I'm disturbed that councillors making the decision were only given a very limited set of options to consider," he said.
"I'm always reluctant to involve myself with council matters as a state MP, but I don't believe the councillors have properly considered other options for Bath Street and I've become increasingly concerned that they're not listening to the local residents.
"For that reason, I commissioned a landscape architect to produce a concept plan for the site which I think is more in step with what the community wants and needs."
Mr Piper said he had shared his vision with councillors this week but was still "yet to hear from any of them".
"If a six-storey development is built on this site, the land is lost to the community forever," he said. "It's easy for councils to make a short-term financial gain from developing or selling iconic sites like this, but it will come at a great cost to future generations.
Much of the angst about the development is that it was not included as part of a master plan, and its associated planning process, that the council is preparing for public land the site adjoins. The Toronto Foreshore Protection Group has rallied against council's vision for the site.
Last year it submitted a petition with 5295 signatures calling for the land to remain as public space. Earlier this year, the council released documents related to the site, but is yet to reveal the extent of its plans, or what the development will look like.
The council's CEO, Morven Cameron, has said the mixed-use development would "help fill a gap in our city for accommodation and recreational facilities on the waterfront".
"It will activate and transform what has for many years been a degraded site primarily used as an overflow parking area - a function that does not do justice to its location or potential," she wrote in an opinion piece published by Australian Community Media last year.
Independent Lake Macquarie councillor Wendy Harrison says the council should reconsider its plans for a six-storey development in light of opposition to the project.
Cr Harrison was the only councillor to vote against the plan to pursue a mixed-use development on Bath Street last year.
"Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and step back and say, 'whoops, maybe we need to step back and re-look at this'," she said on Friday.