Fleet Street plans for Salamander Bay to be called up to Port Stephens Council for a closer look

It’s better to grow up rather than spread out when it comes to seniors living, according to the designer behind a redevelopment of the old Colonial Resort at Salamander Bay, who wants to see 10 storeys on the site. 

The Fleet Street project would provide 230 residences with a construction value of $40 million if approved but it’s the future stages, yet to be lodged with council, that’s triggered concern in he community. 

“If the 10-storey part of this sticks in their gullet, we’re happy to explain why it’s this way,” architect and investor Warwick Lindsay said.

“If they don’t like it we’ll cut it and make the buildings longer, it just means there will be less landscaping around the base.”

Under the first development application lodged with Port Stephens Council the proponents seek approval to demolish buildings, build five new dwellings, change the use of existing hotel rooms for use as 10 seniors’ dwellings, and create caretaker’s quarters.

The second DA is for a six storey residential flat building – 67 units – with two levels of basement car parking together with ground floor community facilities.

Members of a newly-formed Salamander Bay Community Group gathered at Soldiers Point Bowling Club earlier this month to voice concerns over the plans. This prompted Cr John Nell to call-up the plans to council – a “welcome move” according to the group’s convenor Colin Howard.

“This gives the council the opportunity to properly engage with the community over this,” Mr Howard said.

“To have 10 storeys, it’s out of character with the area, it changes the character of what is an urban environment.”

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The area has become home to more and more seniors living in recent years.

Opposite the old Colonial is a Gateway Lifestyle village, and within 200 metres is Salamander Haven. Within a kilometre are the Greenside apartments at Soldiers Point Bowling Club.

“There’s quite a complex density of seniors living with doctors and other public facilities here that generates a lot of interest in the area,” Mr Howard said.

“But this will place a tremendous load on things like roads and even getting access to the shopping centre, the traffic impacts haven’t even been assessed yet.

“It’s hard to make any assessment of the impacts because council hasn’t published any of the supporting documentation yet.”

Mr Lindsay said the site, which undulates back from Soldiers Point Road, is partially zoned E2 environmental conservation, which is afforded it “the second highest protection to a National Park’.

“The council’s sold us this land at the back of the site because they can’t afford to maintain it,” he said.

“We wanted to develop the whole site but we found out we can only develop a third of the site. I then went vertical and did the 10 storeys around the back, they’re set down into the hill.”

These plans are said to take into consideration any impact of the buildings on the ridgeline as viewed from the water.

“The owners instructed me, ‘whatever you do, when you sail into the bay, we don’t want to see that on the water’,” Mr Lindsay said.

“We’ve ensured that it’s no higher than the hill there.”

The council clarified it was the developer who moved first.

“The site owner contacted council in the first instance to discuss extending the existing bushfire Asset Protection Zone along their boundary due to safety concerns for its potential residents,” the spokesman said. 

“This discussion progressed to the proponent purchasing the site.”

The Salamander Bay Community Group will meet 5.30pm on March 20 at the Soldiers Point Bowling Club.