Harvey Norman’s plans to move its head office from Homebush to Macquarie Park appears dead after the City of Ryde Council again voted unanimously to reject the plans.

Harvey Norman originally submitted plans for a new head office complex, retail store, hotel and residential area in March 2013. That original plan was ruled against by the Council after an unfavourable review by SJP Planning said the development would run counter to the Council’s goal of a largely commercial Macquarie Park area with employment opportunities.

While the main stumbling block continued to be Harvey Norman’s plans for a residential development, the publicly listed retailer persisted with this as a feature of its plans during the appeals stage, resulting in another strike against the proposal.

Following the original decision against this development, representatives from Harvey Norman, including chairman Gerry Harvey, met with Councillors in an attempt to change their minds. Sources say, however, that no-one from the company was at the Council meeting on 22 April 2014 that again dismissed the application.

The Minutes for that meeting state that, “The need for the current planning framework applying to Macquarie Park Corridor to be retained to protect employment lands that is strategically important to the economic viability of the state”.

“Inclusion of residential uses within the commercial core fails to consider the holistic strategic plan for Macquarie Park Corridor and will set a precedent for future proposals in the corridor.”

Click here to sign up for our free daily newsletter

The original proposal for the new head office was prepared by architecture firm Allen Jack + Cottier and included a new 12-storey commercial tower atop the franchisor’s existing Domayne store at 31-35 Epping Road. A further two hectares of development incorporating 29-31 Epping Road and 111 Wicks Road would have included an adjacent 6-storey commercial building next to the Domayne, at the current site of a smash repairs business, a Stamford hotel and an apartment complex.

Despite Harvey Norman’s reiteration that this proposal had the potential to bring nearly 900 jobs to the area, the Council again asserted that it was inconsistent with a 2011 document, entitled City of Cities: A Plan for Sydney’s Future, which makes clear that Ryde Local Planning sees the “primary purpose” of this corridor being for “for the employment and economic functions”.

Ryde Council believes that allowing Harvey Norman to include residences, even with the injection of new employment opportunities, would be too deep a precedent to set.

In an unusual step, one described as “amazing” by an insider close to the decision, the Councillors unanimously voted to issue a media release announcing Harvey Norman’s proposal defeat and to reaffirm the Council’s position.

The Council Minutes state the intention to “issue a press release that reinforces Council’s position to maintain and protect Macquarie Park as a significant local, state and national specialist commercial centre and that Council will continue to reject the intrusion of residential development in the commercial core”.