An online petition calling for a stop to a proposed strata complex development at The Ruins Way has attracted more than 470 signatures.
Paula Sen Gupta launched the Change.org petition on behalf of concerned residents.
They feel the proposed 16 double-storey townhouses earmarked for 91 The Ruins Way are not in keeping with the neighbourhood known for its large leafy blocks and predominantly single-storey homes.
Ms Sen Gupta said the response to the petition showed it was a concern shared by others.
But the company behind the proposal says it is working inside the planning guidelines and the proposed development will not detract from the area.
A development application has been lodged with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council for the $4.2 million development with 16 townhouses, common driveway, seven on-site visitor parking spaces and two recreation rotundas.
The petition appeals to the council to "use common sense and listen to the community by stopping the inappropriate strata complex development".
Ms Sen Gupta said the proposed development did not take into account its surroundings.
Residents' concerns include privacy loss, noise, overshadowing, increased traffic, building density, the double-storey nature of the units and the impact on koalas.
St Agnes' Parish has sold the site
St Agnes' Parish withdrew a student accommodation development application for the same site in early 2018 after residents' opposition.
The parish subsequently explored the possibility of alternatives on the site such as a primary school, day care centre, aged care units, crisis accommodation and social housing.
St Agnes' Parish priest Father Paul Gooley said in the end, the parish sold the land and it was their intention to use the money to provide for charitable works.
He said the parish provided the new owner with a consent form to enable the DA to be lodged but the parish no longer had any connection to 91 The Ruins Way.
Hibbard Homes stands by development plan
Hibbard Homes branch manager Greg Anderson confirmed Hibbard Homes now owned the land.
"We have no interest in upsetting anybody, but at the same time, this town is a go ahead town, and we have to be able to move forward in a positive and efficient manner and that's providing housing for people," he said.
Mr Anderson moved to allay residents' concerns.
He said the high-end townhouses would not detract from the surrounding area in terms of appearance.
Mr Anderson said the proposal was within design and development guidelines and met the council's planning policies.
The land was actually being under developed, he said, with buildings only covering 33 per cent of the site.
The design has been adjusted to accommodate the trees.
"We are working closely with an arborist in regards to the protection of those trees," Mr Anderson said.
"There's lots of green area being included and it doesn't overshadow any house to our knowledge.
"There are no upstairs windows that are less than 1.2 metres from the floor."
Residents voice their concerns
Siggy Hanisch and Louise Alexander bought their house 12 months ago.
"We weren't expecting to be completely blocked in by 12 two-storey townhouses," Ms Alexander said.
"We will lose our natural light, the sunlight and privacy."
Mr Hanisch said he hoped common sense would prevail.
Resident Steve Boardman believes the proposed development is inconsistent with the area.
"This is an area with single-storey houses and I would like to see it continue that way," he said.
Mr Boardman said the roads were already congested without extra traffic.
Angie Reichelt agreed: "I don't think we can deal with any more traffic," she said.
Mrs Reichelt also has concerns about water run-off from the site.
Adam Drenzla said residents wanted the council to hear their concerns.
His objection to the proposal includes the building density.
The impact of the development with noise from outside areas, privacy issues and traffic generation are among resident Tania Mackenzie's concerns.
But her main concern is she believes the proposal just doesn't fit in with the neighbourhood.
"There is no development like that in this area," Mrs Mackenzie said.
The development application features an arborist report, bushfire report, plans and statement of environmental effects.
Council outlines its process
Submissions have been received in response to the development application.
Those submissions will be evaluated as part of the DA process.
A report will go before the council's Development Assessment Panel and those who made the submissions will be advised when the meeting will take place.
The development application will be assessed on its merits.
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