Tweed Shire’s pro-development councillors pushing to allow a block of 42 tourist units at the Salt development south of Kingscliff to be used for both tourist and permanent residential accommodation will tonight try to, once again, reverse council’s recent refusal of the move.
The move to rescind the decision by council last month to defend an appeal by the developer of the Bells Boulevard units comes despite council staff warning it was beyond its legal powers to allow the dual use in the coastal strip just south of Kingscliff.
Crs Carolyn Byrne, Phil Youngblutt and Barry Longland are moving the rescission motion, while Cr Byrne also has a notice of motion, if the rescission succeeds, for council to engage its solicitors to negotiate consent orders or agreement on a development application for the dual use.
It’s the second time the councillors have tried to overturn the staff-recommended refusal of the dual-use purpose for the three-storey Peppers Bale development on the beachfront.
At the last meeting when the issue was debated, mayor Gary Bagnall warned the councillors trying to overturn the refusal, saying that in the first six weeks of the year, council had made three resolutions in which council lawyers ‘had to intervene to tell us our decisions are outside the law and this is one of them’.
The tipsy-turvy saga began last September when council narrowly voted to refuse it, but that was rescinded earlier this year, again narrowly, with majority pro-development councillor backing.
The rescission then was understood to have set the cat among the pigeons for other surrounding tourist-unit owners and council was warned it was illegal to have dual-use accommodation in that zone.
As a result, Crs Longland and Youngblutt changed their mind on the issue and, with mayor Gary Bagnall and Cr Katie Milne, decided in confidential session to heed the advice of chief planner Vince Connell and general manager Troy Green that the rescission motion was invalid (Crs Polglase and Carolyn Byrne voted against, Cr Armstrong absent).
That resolution ‘notes that the purported approval on 5 February’ was beyond power and wishes to correct the public record’ and that the dual-use proposal ‘remains determined by way of refusal, as per Council’s original resolution of 4 September 2014’.
It also meant council had to notify ‘all relevant parties of its error and clarifies’ that the development application for dual use ‘remains determined by way of refusal’.
But the issue is once again back on the drawing board at tonight’s meeting.
In his report to council last September recommending refusal, chief planner Vince Connell said the site was zoned 2(f) Tourism under the Tweed Local Environmental Plan (LEP) when the application for the dual use of the two and three-bedroom units was originally made, a zoning which allowed residential development in the form of multi-dwelling housing which ‘supported the main tourism function of the zone’.
But Mr Connell said the draft LEP 2012 (now LEP 2014) rezoned the site to SP 3-Tourist, thus prohibiting any form of permanent ‘residential accommodation’.
‘Though LEP 2014 was in draft form at the time the application was submitted, its subsequent gazettal on 4 April 2014 has removed any uncertainty regarding the introduction of its provisions,’ Mr Connell said.
Mr Connell at the time said the strata-plan unit owner, Midpit Pty Ltd, had ‘not demonstrated that there is a wider benefit (wider than economic gain for individual lot owners) to the application in terms of the proposed residential use supporting the tourist function of the zone’.
He said ‘approval of the proposed development is considered to constitute an undesirable precedent’ whereby ‘existing tourist facilities are eroded piecemeal through the Development Application process without any strategic review of the overall impact of such changes’.
The new SP3 Tourist zone now in force Mr Connell said required optimising the amenity of the units with ‘appropriate room dimensions and shapes, access to sunlight, natural ventilation, visual and acoustic privacy, storage, indoor and outdoor space, efficient layouts and service areas, outlook and ease of access for all age groups and degrees of mobility’.
Mr Connell said that on this basis, council planners also had concerns about the suitability of the conversion of the tourist units for permanent residential accommodation.
He said the owner contended the new use would be ‘a logical development of the site with the members of the strata corporation currently unable to sustain business purely on tourist trade alone’.
‘The change of use allows for the property and existing structures to be used for both tourist accommodation as well as permanent residency. As a result of the proposal, vital support will be lent to the subject and adjoining tourist accommodation and facilities. Flexible use will help invigorate the central Salt tourist precinct,’ Mr Connell said.