It’s a case of fifth time lucky for OTR and its grand plans for a service station in Kensington Park.

The Environment, Resources and Development Court (ERD) has granted OTR parent company Peregrine Corporation development plan consent for the station at 285-287 Kensington Rd.

It comes after Burnside councillors assessed an appeal from Peregrine behind closed doors on March 16 this year, after its proposal for the corner of Kensington Rd and May Terrace was rejected by the council’s assessment panel in September 2019.

The panel, by a 4-1 vote, rejected the plan saying it did not qualify as a “small-scale” development and would create traffic and safety problems.

However, the company’s “compromise proposal” had a “significant level of improvements”, addressing amenity, landscaping and scale concerns, minutes from the confidential meeting show.

The council’s chief executive officer Chris Cowley said elected members took into account the assessment panel unanimously endorsing the new proposal.

It was also approved on the “high likelihood of defeat should the matter progress to a hearing based on the amended scheme”, minutes show.

The cost of proceeding to a hearing, in the ERD, could be as high as $50,000.

There was also “potential for the appellant to pursue an even lesser desired development, shaped by the policies in the incoming Planning and Design Code”, the minutes revealed.

When asked to clarify this point, Mr Cowley said he feared councils would have less control and say over similar developments in the future under the code.

Community protests began against OTR’s plan in November, 2016.

In an online video, Mr Cowley said it was a “very difficult decision for council” but it was ultimately swayed by the panel’s unanimous call.

“It was of a significantly reduced scale and essentially redevelops the existing building that’s on the site,” Mr Cowley said.

“Protecting the amenity of the community is one of its highest priorities.”

In a further statement, Mr Cowley said it was the best outcome for the site.

“It was unrealistic to believe that there would be no commercial development at this site, so this decision has achieved an outcome with the least impact to the community’s amenity,” Mr Cowley said.

The council has previously said discussions were held in private to “protect its legal position.”

The decision concludes a longwinded process that began in November 2016 with a community protest of over 200 people against an earlier plan.

Peregrine’s initial proposal was rejected by the state government’s assessment panel in June 2017 and an appeal in the Environment, Resources and Development Court in July 2018 was dismissed.

That decision was then upheld in the Supreme Court, in May 2019.

Peregrine Corporation has been contacted for comment.

Extracted in full from: OTR servo plan for Kensington approved | The Advertiser (