Tweed Shire Council has admitted it was beyond its legal power to allow a block of 42 tourist units at the Salt development south of Kingscliff to be used both for tourist and permanent residential accommodation.
A refusal last September of the dual-use purpose for the Peppers Bale block of units was rescinded earlier this month, but that in turn was overturned in an unprecedented move dealt with as an urgency motion by councillors behind closed doors at an extraordinary meeting last Thursday.
The owners of the units in Bells Boulevarde in the tourist precinct of Salt were probably still celebrating a successful yet narrow 4-2 vote in the rescission motion on 5 February (led by pro-development Crs Carolyn Byrne and Warren Polglase, supported by Crs Barry Longland and Phil Youngblutt), which overturned last September’s refusal by council to allow the change to dual-use of the three-storey unit block on the beachfront.
But it’s understood the rescission set the cat among the pigeons for other surrounding tourist-unit owners and council was warned it was illegal to have dual-use accommodation in that zone.
As a result, last Thursday Crs Longland and Youngblutt changed their mind on the issue and, with mayor Gary Bagnall and Cr Katie Milne, decided in confidential session to heed the advice of chief planner Vince Connell and general manager Troy Green that the rescission motion was invalid (Crs Polglase and Carolyn Byrne voted against, Cr Armstrong absent).
The latest resolution ‘notes that the purported approval on 5 February’ was ‘beyond power and wishes to correct the public record’ and that the dual-use proposal ‘remains determined by way of refusal, as per Council’s original resolution of 4 September 2014’.
It also meant council has to notify ‘all relevant parties of its error and clarifies’ that the development application for dual use ‘remains determined by way of refusal’.
In his report to council last September recommending refusal, chief planner Vince Connell said the site was zoned 2(f) Tourism under the Tweed Local Environmental Plan (LEP) when the application for the dual use of the two and three-bedroom units was originally made, a zoning which allowed residential development in the form of multi-dwelling housing which ‘supported the main tourism function of the zone’.
But Mr Connell said the draft LEP 2012 (now LEP 2014) rezoned the site to SP 3-Tourist, thus prohibiting any form of permanent ‘residential accommodation’.
‘Though LEP 2014 was in draft form at the time the application was submitted, its subsequent gazettal on 4 April 2014 has removed any uncertainty regarding the introduction of its provisions,’ Mr Connell said.
Mr Connell at the time said the strata-plan unit owner, Midpit Pty Ltd, had ‘not demonstrated that there is a wider
benefit (wider than economic gain for individual lot owners) to the application in terms of the proposed residential use supporting the tourist function of the zone’.
He said ‘approval of the proposed development is considered to constitute an undesirable precedent’ whereby ‘existing tourist facilities are eroded piecemeal through the Development Application process without any strategic review of the overall impact of such changes’.
The new SP3 Tourist zone now in force Mr Connell said required optimising the amenity of the units with ‘appropriate room dimensions and shapes, access to sunlight, natural ventilation, visual and acoustic privacy, storage, indoor and outdoor space, efficient layouts and service areas, outlook and ease of access for all age groups and degrees of mobility’.
Mr Connell said that on this basis, council planners also had concerns about the suitability of the conversion of the tourist units for permanent residential accommodation.
He said the owner contended the new use would be ‘a logical development of the site with the members of the strata corporation currently unable to sustain business purely on tourist trade alone’.
‘The change of use allows for the property and existing structures to be used for both tourist accommodation as well as permanent residency. As a result of the proposal, vital support will be lent to the subject and adjoining tourist accommodation and facilities. Flexible use will help invigorate the central Salt tourist precinct,’ Mr Connell said.