An onsite court hearing over the controversial proposed redevelopment of the Brunswick Heads squash-centre complex into a boarding house of 34 units will take place late next month.
Byron Shire Council is defending its refusal last year of the development in Teven Street in the Land and Environment Court (LEC). The owners of the property, Murray and Julia Stebbing, later lodged an appeal against the councillors’ 8–1 decision last June.
The plan involves alterations to the existing gymnasium, squash courts and indoor swimming pool and change of use into a boarding house.
The appeal, to be heard on April 19–20, is regarded as a test case for a contentious state policy on affordable rental housing.
The refusal by Council supported a campaign by residents who saw it as a major overdevelopment of the site that would have ruined the character of the village and amenity.
But staff had recommended approval for the redevelopment under a policy introduced two years ago by the former Labor government to boost affordable rental housing.
Mayor Jan Barham said the policy, which gives developers concessions such as fewer parking spaces and smaller room sizes to encourage affordable rental housing, was designed more for high-density metropolitan areas rather than regional centres.
Cr Barham said approval would have set a precedent for an unacceptable level of density that could destroy the village’s character.
The court hearing starts on April 19 at 9.30am onsite at 14–16 Teven Street with an inspection by the LEC commissioner and continues afterwards at the Ballina Court House in River Street, Ballina.
Residents who made submissions against the proposal and wishing to give evidence are being asked by Council lawyers to attend at 9am on the first day.