Regional Planning Panel approves concept for $120m seniors living project at Merewether Golf Club

The group’s directors met with club officials and members at the course on Tuesday to celebrate the approval of a site compatibility certificate for the development.

The Hunter and Central Coast Regional Planning Panel approved the concept plans for the site early last week, allowing Thirdi Group to progress with a DA.

The proposed development, unveiled by the club in mid-2017 and endorsed by members a year later, includes 148 serviced apartments, a new clubhouse, health and fitness centre and other associated amenities.

“We’d like to think we can lodge [the DA] by the end of June,” Thirdi Group sales director Luke Berry said.

“The bulk and scale has essentially been approved by the state government and we’re now going to submit our plans that fit within that bulk and scale. [The] project will create over 1000 jobs in the region during construction and close to 100 ongoing jobs when the new club, facilities and seniors living village is operational”.

Thirdi Group is aiming to create a lifestyle precinct at the course. Its aged care business Third Age will manage the seniors living apartments which, if approved, will be constructed in four six-storey unit blocks along one of the existing fairways adjoining the redeveloped clubhouse.

“The golf club will benefit from a new clubhouse, restaurant facilities and a wellness centre that will be shared between the club [members] and the community of the seniors village,” Mr Berry said.

“We’re proposing a 25-metre lap pool, gym, consult rooms so you can have local businesses come to the facility. The broader community will benefit from a multi-million dollar clubhouse, restaurant, sports bar and we’d like to think, back to the olds days when this club was centre to weddings and conferences, we’re going to be able to create that for this club and the community.”

NEXT STEP: Thirdi Group director Luke Berry, right, speaks at the course on Tuesday.

 NEXT STEP: Thirdi Group director Luke Berry, right, speaks at the course on Tuesday.

Speaking on behalf of the board, Merewether Golf Club captain Aaron Spalding said the project, which involves a 99-year lease of the development land to Thirdi Group, would help secure the club’s long-term financial future.

“We started this process close to five years ago and the SCC is the strongest indication yet our shared vision of a creating a world class golfing facility and seniors living precinct is on track to become a reality,” he said.

“Not only will this development help secure our clubs future, it also paves the way for significant investment to take place in our course infrastructure and facilities.”

City of Newcastle objected to the development in its assessment made to the panel, suggesting it was inconsistent with the strategic context and vision for the area.

It raised concerns with the height, scale and character of the proposed development and likely traffic impacts on local streets, including up to a 50 per cent increase in traffic at the King Street and Glebe Road intersection.

But the Department of Planning said in its submission that “current strategic planning does not specifically deal with this site” and “an opportunity exists for a development that takes advantage of the large site to minimise offsite impacts while allowing for the continued use of the golf course”.

The planning panel ultimately approved the SCC subject to a number of conditions that require additional plans to be lodged with the development application regarding landscaping, tree retention, design standards and traffic impacts.

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