Tweed Shire Council last night rejected a controversial plan for a storage facility for 62 steel shipping containers to be established close to a residential estate of hundreds of elderly people at South Tweed Heads.
Representatives of the several hundred residents of the Oasis Complex and Raffles Aged Care facility have for some time voiced their concerns over the storage facility in Greenway Drive, which would have overlooked their homes.
They told council at a recent community access meeting they were horrified at the impact the facility would’ve had on their lifestyle and home values.
While mayor Barry Longland, his deputy Michael Armstrong and Crs Gary Bagnall and Katie Milne ensured it would not go ahead, the council’s pro-development faction of Crs Warren Polglase, Phil Youngblutt and Carolyn Byrne ignored the residents’ pleas by voting for it in the 4-3 vote.
The developers, some related to local National Party heavyweight Idwall Richards, had proposed to provide the storage containers for leasing to tradespeople, small business owners and local residents.
Cr Bagnall in last night’s debate accused Cr Byrne of ‘belittling’ the residents’ concerns in her address against it.
Cr Byrne had described the residents concerns about graffiti and crime as ‘unsubstantiated’ and ‘a little bit exaggerated’.
Cr Polglase said as neighbours, the residents had been properly notified and the facility would be very ‘unobtrusive with facades around it’.
Cr Milne said the residents were ‘mortified’ over the plan and didn’t believe it was appropriate for the area.
Cr Bagnall said the mostly elderly residents were ‘frightened’ about it and council ‘should support that community’.
Cr Armstrong said he had talked to residents there and a large number of them held concerns about noise and other impacts of the storage facility on their amenity.
Win for community
Federal Greens Richmond candidate Dawn Walker who had helped and encouraged the residents to oppose the plan, today welcomed the decision saying she was ‘thrilled to bits’ that it was rejected, describing it as a win for not just the residents at The Oasis but also the wider Tweed community.
In their report council planners said that while the proposal, to operate seven days a week from 7am to 6pm, was allowable under current planning instruments for an urban expansion zone, the development would be prohibited under the draft Local Environment Plan (LEP) 2012 under the new B4 mixed-use zone.
They recommended against it, saying it was also not in the public interest.
Cr Milne argued that while yet not enshrined in law, the new draft LEP principles were important because it was about ‘planning for our future’ not planning from the ‘dinosaur’ past.
The development was proposed as part of a joint venture between Expo Park Bagcorp Pty Ltd and Bagcorp Pty Ltd, owned by local business identities Robert Richards and Gillian Richards, and developer Alan Blundell. Oasis Community Association president John Wray told media recently that Crs Polglase, Youngblutt and Byrne had not responded to communications they sent them over the facility.
Council had received over 100 letters opposing the development as well as a 200-signature petition with many saying it would be an eyesore.
They also said it would be highly visible as it was at the highest point in South Tweed.
After last night’s meeting, Cr Bagnall said ‘what a horrible thing to have go in next to your retirement home’.
He took a further swipe at his council opponent Cr Byrne, saying she had ‘promoted herself during the election as caring for the elderly. What a joke’.
‘Her belittling of these elderly people’s concerns was symbolic of her total disregard of the concerns of the elderly in our community,’ he said.
‘She didn’t support the hundreds of elderly community members of Noble Park Estate either when they faced with a development application which would impact on their lives in a negative way.
‘It was the same when they put the homeless persons drop in centre next door to a block of townhouses occupied by vulnerable elderly widows in Tweed Heads.
‘We need to protect our elderly members of our shire from inappropriate development. This should be a priority of our council’s decisions.
‘Fighting inappropriate development was one of the biggest platforms I ran my election campaign on. This is one of those inappropriate developments,’ Cr Bagnall said.