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Byron Shire
March 9, 2021

Council conflicted over land rezoning

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Ballina Council will this week decide whether to proceed with rezoning state significant farmland, which contributes to a buffer around the township of Alstonville, in order to support a local industry that is seeking to legitimise its existing land use.

Stoville Pty Ltd manufactures its Duraplas water tanks on the site, which it expanded into after its original adjoining industrial site became too small to be viable.

But the change of use has never been approved and Greens councillor Jeff Johnson says it shouldn’t be because of the precedent it sets.

Public exhibition over July and August drew 34 objections and just two submissions supporting the proposal.

The primary objections were that the rezoning of land to legitimise a longstanding unauthorised land use is poor planning practice, and the proposal is inconsistent with state and local strategic planning framework and ministerial directions.

Despite this, staff recommended Council continue its support for the proposal, arguing the economic and social benefits outweighed the planning anomaly. They further argued rezoning ‘is not expected to result in significant ecological impacts’.

But Cr Jeff Johnson said the council should not be ‘expanding the industrial estate into the environmental buffer zone to legitimise the longstanding unauthorized land use’.

‘What we’re talking about is taking 6,800m2 of state significant farmland and placing an industrial zone over it,’ said Cr Jeff Johnson

‘Rezoning this land would send the message that our planning controls aren’t worth the paper they’re written on,’ he added.

‘Council has also received a submission from NSW Trade and Industry (Agriculture), which has concerns about the loss of high-quality agricultural land.

‘One needs to ask the question, why are the majority of the councillors in favour of setting this dangerous precedent?’ asked Cr Jeff Johnson.

Council approved the application for a state government gateway determination earlier this year, resulting in a voluntary planning agreement with the proponent that would see landscaping around the site and the removal of an old house that would not be consistent with the site’s new use.

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