June 19, 2015

By DAMON CRONSHAW

A BIG part of the $388 million Trinity Point marina project was approved on Thursday, boosting Lake Macquarie’s tourist and recreational capacity.

The approval will allow the Morisset Park project’s first 94 marina berths to be built, giving boaties a new area to drop anchor.

In approving the plan, Joint Regional Planning Panel acting chairman Jason Perica gave an affirmative nod to the project’s developer, Keith Johnson.

‘‘It’s good to see you back swinging, Mr Johnson,’’ Mr Perica said.

The marina project was held up during the global financial crisis, but Mr Johnson survived to live another day.

‘‘It’s been a long, hard struggle,’’ said Mr Johnson, who heads Johnson Property Group.

‘‘We’ve always been confident and passionate about this project. We’ll be going forward with all our energy.’’

The property group’s development director, Bryan Garland, said the company hoped to start construction this year.

The project had attracted opposition, but no objectors spoke at the panel meeting.

Morisset Park resident Gary Wilson told the meeting the marina would provide jobs in an area that needed them.

‘‘I look forward to enjoying the marina, cafe and boats,’’ he said.

Lake Macquarie businessman Bob Cowan, of Cowan Manufacturing, said the south-west side of the lake needed boating infrastructure.

He praised Mr Johnson’s vision.

‘‘It’s a big risk for someone to put a marina in an area that’s unchartered waters,’’ he said.

Mannering Park Amateur Sailing Club commodore John Skewes said the project would ‘‘provide us with a world-class facility to be enjoyed by all’’.

Mr Skewes was disappointed that a slipway and boat maintenance area had been removed from the plan, but he welcomed the fuel and waste pump-out infrastructure.

The project’s marina consultant Les Binkin said removal of the ‘‘handstand’’ area was not done lightly.

‘‘The size of the area we had to work with made it unviable,’’ Mr Binkin said.

Planning authorities are still assessing land-based parts of the plan.

The overall project is planned to include 250 tourism and residential apartments, 188 marina berths, a 60-room hotel, restaurant, cafe and 300-seat conference centre.

The council approved 198 residential lots in the Trinity Point area in 2006, half of which have been built.

Read article online at Newcastle Herald website

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