Ballina councillor Jeff Johnson says the development of a parcel of land near Skennars Head will represent a ‘new low’ in coastal development if it is allowed to go ahead by the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP).
NSW planning minister Brad Hazzard stripped Ballina Shire Council of its planning powers over the development of Skennars Head Coastal Village, formerly known as Stewart’s Farm, in October last year, handing them to the JRPP.
‘This is a slap in the face to our local community and Council staff who have been working on this matter for a number of years,’ said Ballina Cr Jeff Johnson.
The developers’ plan, which came off exhibition on Monday, would allow for 500 house blocks, with land parcel sizes reduced to 450 square metres, compared with the standard minimum size of 600 square metres in other parts of Skennars Head.
It also excises two large blocks of land east of The Coast Road from the development, effectively conferring on them entitlements for two houses.
Part of the coastal land is leased to Ballina Shire Council for use as a carpark and lookout, while the substantial remaining portion is currently undeveloped.
The JRPP is remaining tight-lipped over the development, and yesterday declined to reply to a list of questions submitted by Echonetdaily.
They responded instead with a prepared statement, noting that the exhibition period had closed and stating, ‘the regional panel will assess the planning proposal and all public submissions before making a recommendation to the minister. As part of this process a public meeting may be held, the date and time of which is yet to be decided.’
‘The JRPP appears to be gifting the developers additional blocks by reducing the minimum lot size,’ said Cr Jeff Johnson.
‘The land east of The Coast Road should be incorporated into the Ballina Coastal Reserve so that our community can enjoy it for generations to come,’ he added.
‘A sticking point for the council in its deliberations was the dedication of this coastal land to the community.’