Tweed Shire mayor Barry Longland has revealed that both the local government department and minister for local government Don Page have indicated they want no part of the row between council and billionaire Bob Ell’s development company Leda.
This would seem to spell the end of Leda’s campaign to strip Tweed Shire Council of its powers to deal with its two massive housing developments.
‘They seem happy for us to resolve the conflict between ourselves,’ said Cr Longland.
He said council staff were talking with Leda staff over the company’s concerns, adding that there was a ‘significant meeting’ held last week.
Mr Page’s hands-off stance is a major blow to developer Bob Ell whose Leda group published two volumes of so-called dirt files to try to discredit the council’s approval process and set up an unelected panel to deal with future approvals.
Leda called on Mr Page to intervene in October after giving him copies of the files which allege bias and misconduct by some council officers and others in dealing with his 4,500-house Kings Forest and 5,500-house Cobaki developments.
The government and the council are yet to formally reply to Leda’s conspiracy allegations, with a council spokesman saying they are still waiting to hear from a government advisory agency, the Division of Local Government.
Push to sideline
Leda’s push to sideline the council comes as planning staff prepare to deal with a raft of applications by the developer, including changes to original consents for its Cobaki project recently issued by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP).
The JRPP gave the green light to the first development applications (DAs) for around 1,000 lots on the estate, but there were also a ‘complex series of further approvals’ to follow the initial DAs, a council spokesman said.
He said Leda had also sought to vary several conditions and developer contributions, which were being currently assessed.
The two JRPP-approved DAs also needed further construction certificates to be assessed and approved before the development could start.
‘The conditions also require submission of further landscaping, stormwater and site-specific environmental management plans to be approved prior to issue of construction certificates, as well as a range of other requirements prior to commencement of works,’ the spokesman said.
Construction certificates were being assessed for earthworks in the central open-space precinct, trunk services and the southern portion of the Cobaki Parkway while construction approval has been given for the bridge, town-centre earthworks and the northern stretch of the Cobaki Parkway.
Meanwhile, Greens councillor Katie Milne has hit out at council’s lacklustre response to Leda’s attack, saying she was ‘very disturbed’ that general manager Mike Rayner is refusing to seek legal advice on Leda’s reports.
‘We have a duty to ensure the public is aware of the truth in these matters,’ said Cr Milne, who is leading the charge to convince the state government that Leda needs to put aside more land for koalas.
Still a chance
She says there’s still a ‘slim chance’ of saving the koalas through submissions to the state government, which is seeking comment on Leda’s development application for the first stage of its 4,500-house development at Kings Forest.
‘In my opinion Leda’s Kings Forest and Cobaki developments for up to 30,000 residents next to vital koala habitats will be the nail in the coffin for Tweed koalas,’ she said.
‘Leda should have provided an adequate wildlife corridor along the Queensland border at Cobaki, and spared the Cudgen paddock and the eastern side of Kings Forest if they really cared about Tweed Coast koalas.’