Tweed Shire Council has approved the building of a major highway service centre at a prominent gateway entry site to the Tweed Valley at Chinderah.
Construction of the service centre, truck stop and food outlet complex on former sugarcane land next to Melaleuca Station is likely to start later this year after council gave the final green light to the plan, albeit with more than 140 conditions.
The service centre, to cater for northbound traffic on the Pacific Highway, will have its own access with a new roundabout and bypass lane on Tweed Valley Way near the Murwillumbah flyover, as well as a an extra exit from the highway for northbound traffic to enter the site.
The proposed Shell highway centre will be a single-storey building containing the fuel control centre, four food outlets, two of which will have drive-through facilities. It is to be built on a triangular 3.9-hectare block between the highway and Tweed Valley Way interchange.
It will also include an outdoor dining area and playground, truckers lounge, public amenities and parking spaces for over 100 cars, 25 trucks and five caravans or buses.
However, during debate last Thursday, some councillors expressed concern about the design of the centre, landscaping and water and energy efficiency.
Mayor Gary Bagnall and Greens Cr Katie Milne failed in a bid to defer the decision for three months in order to try and have the developer improve the plans to ‘achieve better outcomes’ in the look of the building, landscaping and use of water and energy. (Crs Barry Longland, Warren Polglase, Carolyn Byrne, Phil Youngblutt against, Cr Michael Armstrong absent).
The proposed signage for the centre also came under fire, but that aspect was set aside for a separate development application at a later stage.
Council planning chief Vince Connell said in his report the original design of signage had been ’unacceptable for reasons of adverse visual amenity and unreasonable impact on the surrounding hinterland and ridgeline views (especially when juxtaposed against Wollumbin/Mt Warning).’
‘In order to support the signage, significant redesign is required in addition to the provision of detailed visual analysis which has not occurred to date,’ Mr Connell said.
He said the state’s Roads and Maritime NSW (RMS) also had to approve the signage, and that ‘to date, RMS have not been satisfied with the proposed design and concurrence has not been issued’.
Staff planners have also applied a condition for a further datailed plan to be submitted ’which has regard for the National Iconic Landscape Values of the Shire, prior to issue of Construction Certificate’.
The plan calls for a minimum of 80 per cent local native species and prohibits any plant species listed as Myrtle Rust hosts (which could impact adversely on the adjoining tea tree farm). There is also a requirement for perimeter screen plantings.
The service-centre plan will be sent to the state planning department and the eventual development application will be determined by the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (NJRPP).
The flood-prone site will be filled in parts so the building and refuelling areas are above the regulated design flood level of RL (Reduced Level) 3.5 metres AHD (Australian Height Datum), with around 62,000 cubic metres of fill to be imported.
Surrounding land use is mainly sugar cane and ti-tree production. The site is bounded by the highway and ti-tree growing to the east, Tweed Valley Way to the west and the highway off-ramp to/from Murwillumbah to the north.
A crayfish/acquaculture farm has recently been established on the eastern side of the highway opposite the service centre site, which also adjoins the Melaleuca Station Crematorium to its south, with farming sheds and a dam near it.