The NSW state government’s ongoing review of environmental zones on the north coast is being blamed for Lismore City Council losing a court case in the NSW Land and Environment Court last week.
An appeal by Aboriginal man Mickey Ryan against the rezoning of the North Lismore Plateau to allow for 1300 lots was declared invalid by the court last week.
The decision to remove environmental zones to protect certain areas on the plateau should have been readvertised, the court found.
Council’s Manager Development and Compliance Peter Jeuken described the court loss as ‘disappointing’ and laid the blame squarely on the state government.
Mr Jeuken said the ongoing review had left north coast councils without clear directions for future planning outcomes.
The NSW Department of Planning required removal of environmental zones from the North Lismore Plateau LEP amendment as a result of its decision in September 2012 to review the use of E zones and overlays applied to land on the Far North Coast.
An interim report of this review was published in May 2014, but it has yet to be finalised, leaving north coast councils without clear direction for future planning outcomes.
‘NSW councils must be able to rely upon advice from the NSW Government, and in this instance we were advised by the NSW Department of Planning that Council had fulfilled all of its requirements, and that Parliamentary Counsel had reviewed the LEP amendment concluding it could be legally made with the full knowledge the E zones had been removed,’ Mr Jeuken said.
‘Despite following all of the advice from the NSW Department of Planning including the relevant checks and balances, and their processes arising from the review of E zones on the Far North Coast, Council feels it has been let down as a result of this judgement.’
The council will now seek appropriate independent advice regarding the judgement and prepare a report to the council as soon as possible, with a view to recompleting any necessary steps and addressing the relevant administrative issues without delay.
Mayor Jenny Dowell said Council was fully committed to the North Lismore Plateau development and working with all relevant stakeholders to ensure progress on the matter.
‘The North Lismore Plateau development has been in the making for 15 years and is essential for Lismore’s future growth and prosperity,” Jenny said.
‘This is a major development that includes 1300 residential lots and 1550 new dwellings – we are talking about providing a huge boost to our workforce and the CBD, creating affordable housing opportunities and jobs.’