Bigger, bulkier and higher still – is this the future for Nelson Bay?

A new DA has been lodged for the ‘crane’ site on Church St, Nelson Bay, on exhibition until 21 September. Council will accept submissions up to 28 September but only if you ask before 21/9 – see email address below.

The proposal is for an 80 unit 11 storey apartment building, the first 2 levels being carparking below the level of the Church St footpath.  The sloping site (down to the north and east) results in a height of at least 33m above ground level, with a maximum height of 36 metres. This is 8 metres or 29% over the new 8 storey height limit for the site adopted only last year after a lengthy and vigorous community debate.  The report in the Examiner this week that it is only 10% higher is incorrect.

This image is taken from the application documents, which are available online until 21/9 at

We encourage you to have your say about this proposal, which you can do by emailing Council at with DA 2021-703 in the subject line.

Background: This is a new proposal for the combined site 11-15 Church St.  The controversial approval of the Ascent Apartments in 2017 was for the smaller site 11-13 Church St. That approval was for an 8 storey apartment building which would have had a maximum height of 32 metres, which was more than twice the 5 storey height limit that applied at the time.

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6 Responses to Bigger, bulkier and higher still – is this the future for Nelson Bay?

  1. Frank Wright says:

    Dear TRRA members,
    It is shortsighted to focus on a single numerical
    control ie. max. building height, rather than understanding the architectural and urban design response as a whole, before commenting on the proposal’s design merit.
    What is it about the building’s height that upsets you visually (not numerically but visually)?
    I suggest you all take a look at the Visual Impact Assessment and the perspectives within the submission, and consider how the design responds to its context in terms of built form and architectural expression, as well as what it gives to the residents and community.
    Granted, the article in The Port Stephens Examiner was incorrect and confusing, but some of the information within this TRRA post is also correct and it also portrays the design negatively solely around the issue of height, without allowing those who read this post to understand and appreciate the design on its merits.
    Is it bigger yes. It is over a much larger site.
    Is it bulkier – no. In fact the FSR is approx. 6.5% under the max. FSR. Is it higher – marginally, relative to the previously proposed Ascent Apartments in one corner of the roof if you look at the building height plane diagrams.
    I hope the TRRA will encourage its members to review all the DA documents, provide professional guidance in terms of their understanding of these and overall respond to the design as a whole.
    Frank Wright

    • Margaret Wilkinson says:

      The whole point is that the developer is “selling” this design based on his previous approval – one that many in the community believe should never have been given – especially as the majority of Councillors came from “out of town” and couldn’t really care less about Tomaree Peninsula. To then add on 29% in height limit, regardless of other compliance, sets a most undesirable precedent for future developments. Why have rules in the first place if the greedy just ignore them?

    • Ivan says:

      Hello “Frank”. The building is not only 29% above the allowable height, it is almost on the apex of a hill which exacerbates the height exceedance. It towers over surrounding buildings. To add to this, it seems to be 70m to 80 wide. The combination of width, height and position will make it an eyesore, in my opinion. I have asked the developer to provide imagery/artists impressions of the proposed development from various parts of the town to the east and north of the site. If done accurately, I believe that the point on height and width will be self evident. This same developer has a DA in for a development on Yacaaba St. That development is about 1/3 the size of this CHurch St one and is a far more elegant building. But just look at the good imagery that has been provided with that development vs the Church St devlopment which is 3x the size.

  2. Ivan Glaser says:

    hello. I have been looking through the documents lodged with the DA and I am totally shocked by what I have seen. The Visual Impact Assesment and the SEE completely downplay the effect this massive 80 apartment building will have on the small town/village feel of Nelson Bay. It towers over surrounding buildings and houses. It’s ridiculous height is amplified by the fact that it is pretty close to te apex of the ridge. It will tower at least 6 story’s above the Cote D’Azur building in front of it. In their submitted documents, the developers have been very selective on the angles chosen for the “artist impressions” with none provided from the point of view of the town (eg Yacaaba and Magnus streets) and the images provided from the waterfront are taken with a very wide angled lens and at a very very low resolution which significantly downplays the negative visual effect this development will have on the town. I would like to join any fight against this development

  3. Michael Mace says:

    Wonderful news for the future 👏 of Nelson Bay and Port Stephens

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