Residents living near the Hemaford Grove Reserve in Gawler East have expressed their disappointment at the decision by the Gawler Council Assessment Panel (CAP) to approve the construction of a telecommunications tower on the reserve near homes and a playground.

Residents met with local Member of Parliament, Mr Tony Piccolo on Saturday morning to air their grievances about the proposal and the process to date.

Mr Piccolo said the residents have found the whole process to date bewildering and believe the rules favour the developers.

“Residents said that they could not follow the proceedings at the CAP and were surprised at the 3-1 vote in favour of the proposal despite a range of concerns raised by panel members,” said Mr Piccolo.

“A few residents said the acoustics were so bad on the room they could not follow the discussion. They said they just wanted to understand why the proposal was approved.”

Mr Piccolo said residents were particularly annoyed at the fact that the developer’s representatives were not able to answer a series of questions asked by the chair of the CAP.

“Residents also reported that they felt the developer changed their description of their proposal a number of times during hearing,” said Mr Piccolo.

Mr Piccolo said that despite the lack of clarity and detail and uncertainty about some important elements, the council assessment panel approved the proposal.

“The residents believe because of the confusion regarding some key facts about the proposal, the matter should have been be deferred for further consideration, pending answers to the several questions asked.”

“Residents feel disempowered by the process.”

As the tower is proposed to be constructed on community land, the developer’s now need to convince the council to grant them a lease to use a portion of the site, so residents will get another opportunity to share their concerns.

Gawler Council have arranged for a community forum to be held at the Civic Centre on Wednesday 8th May, with final decision regarding the lease expected to be made at the Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday 28th May.

Mr Piccolo said it was important to stress, despite the council assessment panel approval, the proposal council can refuse to grant a lease, as the matters the council can consider as a landowner, are very different to the planning rules.