An oversized beachfront home has been approved for development at Hastings Point despite strong objections from several Tweed Shire Councillors, including the mayor.
The controversial plan, which involves gutting an old block of flats to convert it into a three-storey home at Hastings Point, would not have been approved if the building did not already exist.
But locals fear the approval will create a precedent leading to more mega ‘McMansion’ style homes in the village.
Several councillors spoke passionately against the project, which involves a block of flats being gutted and renovated to create a three-storey home at 26 Tweed Coast Road, but to no avail.
Council planners recommended approval, despite the building being 0.5m higher than allowed by the village’s development control plan (DCP). It also breaches council’s coastal setback regulations, being 2.5 metres from the boundary rather than the required eight metres.
But planners were swayed by its status as an existing building and the potential of a successful Land and Environment Court challenge if the project was rejected. There is also an even larger home next door.
Council staff sent letters to 45 neighbours and received seven submissions objecting to the reconstruction, which would see workmen demolish most of the interior of the block of flats, leaving the exterior walls as a framework for the new home.
Mayor Barry Longland, who opposed the plan with Crs Katie Milne and Joan van Lieshout, said the hard work done to create a DCP for the village was being ‘trashed at the first hurdle’.
Cr Longland warned councillors that other Hastings Point property owners were waiting for the project’s approval so they could seek to build similar-sized homes.
‘What happens when the next project comes along? Let’s stand firm,’ said Cr Longland.
The mayor said it was ironic that a controversial big house next door which had been the impetus for the DCP was now being used to justify the new mansion.
Cr van Lieshout, who championed the Hasting Point DCP’s two-storey height limit, said the building’s length, height and setback all breached the DCP and should be redesigned.
But Cr Dot Holdom backed the council planning staff, saying she had been asked to assess the building on its merits.
‘I know other applicants are waiting for this to be approved. I’m trying to be even-handed and not to be prejudiced,’ she said.
Cr Milne said the decision should be about ‘the desired future character of the village’.
‘Hastings Point residents and the progress association are concerned about this. The aim of the DCP is not to approve something like this. Our main consideration should be not to set a precedent for the whole street.’
Cr Milne described it as an ‘over-developed Gold Coast-style concrete mass of a building’.
‘Is that what we want to show off. It’s not our style. This will undo what we have worked so long and hard for.’