HOUSING Plus hosed down questions about how it came to source land on Forbes Road for its affordable housing development, saying there was no conflict of interest.
Residents opposing the development discovered Housing Plus strategy and business development director Justin Cantello and Timothy Cranfield, who owns 78 Forbes Road, had known each other for several years and they were concerned about a conflict of interest regarding the property's sale.
Both Mr Cantello and Mr Cranfield graduated from Knox Grammar School in 1995, had links on Facebook and through charity events - Mr Cantello challenged Mr Cranfield during the Ice Bucket Challenge, while Mr Cranfield donated to Mr Cantello's Stars of Orange fundraising bid.
Norm Bolitho, who convened the residents meeting earlier this month, questioned whether Mr Cantello had excused himself from the process.
"We're concerned that due process hasn't been undertaken with the purchase of that property," he said.
"They've paid a huge amount [$1.7 million] over and above what had been previously paid [$1.3 million a year ago]."
The density will be similar to 12 three-bedroom houses.Housing Plus strategy and business development director Justin Cantello
Mr Cantello said in a statement the relationship had no bearing on the decision to purchase the land.
"The relationship was declared to Housing Plus at the beginning of the negotiations with Tim Cranfield, which were handled through a third party, Aspect Buyers Agency," he said.
"We followed our conflict of interest policy and the relationship was placed on our conflict of interest register."
He said Aspect Buyers Agency acted on Housing Plus’ behalf during the entire period of valuation assessment and negotiation and Housing Plus' executive team made all decisions.
Mr Cantello also responded to concerns raised by residents at the public meeting, particularly their enthusiasm to reduce the number of units from Housing Plus' proposed 24-28 to 10-12.
"The density will be similar to 12 three-bedroom houses," he said.
Residents also pointed out under the State Environment Planning Policy for affordable housing, developments needed to be within 400 metres of shops, while the location of the Housing Plus site was 1.2 kilometres.
Mr Cantello said Housing Plus had opted not to submit the development application under the SEPP and it would be assessed under Orange City Council's planning rules.
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