Residents in and around Station Street in Mullumbimby have welcomed Byron Shire Council’s refusal yesterday of a two-storey block of flats that neighbours had objected to over its bulk, impact on their privacy and on local heritage.
Councillors voted 6-3 (Crs Diane Woods, Chris Cubis and Alan Hunter against) to reject the revised plan for the development on two dual-occupancy blocks with rear-lane access opposite the new Woolworths supermarket.
Cr Basil Cameron moved to overturn the staff recommendation for approval for various reasons including it being out of character with the existing neighbourhood, incompatibility with the zoning, drainage issues and overshadowing of neighbours properties limiting solar access and fresh air circulation.
The developer made some minor amendments to address bulk, scale and privacy but residents were not convinced, with more than 300 signing a petition against the plan for the blocks at 27-29 Station Street.
An amendment by Cr Diane Woods to defer the issue to enable further talks aimed at improving the design failed, with mayor Simon Richardson saying residents had been anxious about the issue for some time and now needed closure.
June Grant, a longtime crusader to preserve the town’s heritage, told councillors there were too many flaws and inconsistencies in the development application.
Cr Cameron told Echonetdaily the proposal raised questions about the public’s involvement in local planning.
He said it’s not just a matter of ‘lining up the numbers’ for a development on its width, length and height but ‘whether it’s appropriate and whether it could potentially change the character of surrounding area’.
‘It could have been the thin edge of the wedge for similar inappropriate development in the town,’ he said.
Immediate neighbour Simone Ormsby said it was ‘right decision, not just for me personally but for the whole of Mullumbimby, it was a massive group effort to fight this’.
The landowner and proponent of the development, Mullumbimby businesswoman Eleanor Bartz said she would go back to the drawing board and resubmit another revised plan at a later date.
Ms Bartz, a lifelong local, said she did not want to upset anyone but felt the revised plan would have addressed concerns neighbours had.
She had owned the two blocks of land for many years and wanted to do something with a ‘top-shelf’ design.
The latest plan had involved demolition of an old house, and had many thinking a domino effect of over-development would follow and destroy the quiet, single-home character of Station and other streets.
A number of properties along the street are heritage listed.
Town planner Paul De Fina said the proposal did not consider the town’s development control plan’s (DCP) specific objective to ensure new development complied with the town’s character.