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April 20, 2021

Lismore ratepayers to pay for North Lismore Plateau infrastructure

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A section of the North Lismore Plateau. (Darren Coyne)
A section of the North Lismore Plateau. (Darren Coyne)

By Darren Coyne

Lismore ratepayers will pay up to $24 million to provide infrastructure to the proposed North Lismore Plateau development, which is expected to provide around 1500 houses.

The council has agreed to bear the cost of providing water and wastewater infrastructure within the development, and will also take over responsibility for negotiating access agreements and acquiring land and easements required by the development.

The proposed development, if it proceeds, would provide houses for more than 3,700 people, and would be the largest urban development undertaken since the creation of Goonellabah.

Cr Vanessa Ekins, the only councillor to vote against the recommendation from staff to fund the infrastructure, said ratepayers would be paying for the development for years.

‘It could take up to 40 years for the development to sell and until then people are paying an extra $105 each year in water and sewerage rates on top of what we already pay,’ she told Echonetdaily.

Under the previous arrangements, developers were fully responsible for the delivery of assets internal to the development.

But in a report to last week’s meeting, executive staff recommended that councillors bow to the wishes of the developers and amend its Development Contributions Plans for Water Supply and Wastewater (DSPs) accordingly.

Staff pointed out that by agreeing to make the changes, the council ‘may’ facilitate the proposed development of the Plateau which ‘may’, in turn, promote economic growth and contribute to the revitalisation of the Lismore CBD.

But they also warned that the commitment would expose council to increased financial risk.

Meanwhile, the council last month agreed to forward the planning proposal to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment for a ‘gateway determination’ so that public exhibition could occur.

That decision followed a NSW Environment Court declaration that the previous rezoning attempt was declared invalid.

Bundjalung man Mickey Ryan had taken the council to task because the rezoning proposal placed on public exhibition, which contained environmental zones, was not the same as the proposal approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

The Department had removed the environmental zones.

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  1. It was jolly decent of the executive staff of Lismore council to recommend the huge subsidy for water and sewerage infrastructure at ratepayers expense on the grounds that it may promote economic growth and revitalisation of the Lismore CBD. I’m sure ratepayers will be over the moon.
    It is incumbent on this executive staff to provide the evidence to substantiate their claim. Claims of this kind have been made for years by developers but most don’t stand close scrutiny. One of the reasons for infrastructure backlogs in councils is the provision of such subsidies. We don’t seem to learn from prior experience about such well-known rent-seeking behaviours The poor old ratepayer continues to get it in the eye.
    The problem is made worse by the fact that the State government is reducing funds for infrastructure to local councils, has offered more money for borrowing at interest, and has agreed to put in place fast tracking mechanisms for above peg rate claims, as part of its so-called ‘local government reform agenda’. Make no mistake, ratepayers are just about to screwed by council and the state government. In effect council has agreed to subsidise the profits of the developers who will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    There is another problem here which isn’t given much of a go and that problem is that we are already past the ‘carrying capacity’ of the land for Northern NSW. Various studies show this very clearly and it is a problem we’ve known about since 2002 when the document “A Region of Villages” was put out by RDA. Why are we promoting huge residential growth in these circumstances when environmental services are already overloaded. If you don’t believe me take a look at the parlous state of the Richmond River. Might not the $24 million be better spent on cleaning up that sewer! Gold Coast here we come.

  2. What a lot of “may”s – I sincerely hope these are based on a rigorous planning process not wishful thinking. I also trust that with LCC taking on significant financial risk (& costs to the ratepayers) that they will have secured in the Heads of Agreement a decent whack of power to ensure that “affordable & eco-friendly” homes are built. There has to be a significant win for the City to justify this decision … not just growth through population increase. As far as I am concerned this amounts to a PPP. Make sure LOCAL suppliers & workers are used please Lismore (it’s important to shop locally …. and where are the developers banking, having legal documents drawn up, drawings done etc?).

  3. I agree entirely with Richard who is a well known local and has been looking at this sort ot rort for years! Also Mickey Ryan Banjalung elder has raised his objection to this development and even though he won in the courts the council is coming back at him again. Councillors paying their respect to the original peoples of this land at public gathering is nothing more than a farce, lip service that means nothing because when it comes to listening to the advice of traditional owners and their wishes they get a big ZERO, NOTHING!

    All this furthy about lack of housing is not serious, There are so many vacant and unoccupied premises all through this region with investors waiting in the shadows hoping to make a huge profit. Negative gearing and other tax loopholes are the causes of overly priced housing. Poor people will not be able to afford to buy or even rent and the benefits will as usual go to those with money, lots of it.
    What a bunch of morons running this place. As Richard says our river systems are turning into a sewer and they still crave for more people to come and live here.
    Developers should only be allowed to use up degraded land for their projects,then only then, we may start to see some life back in Lismore

    • Hi Philippe,

      The local Aboriginal community have been very well consulted on the North Lismore Plateau development from the very beginning. The committee of local elders met many times and there is a detailed plan to protect significant sites and future exploitation. Uncle Mickey fell out from this group and did not agree with their decision. The court case that stop the development temporarily was based on e-zones and had nothign to do with Aboriginal sites or consultation.

      Are you from Lismore? As there is a real need for housing and land, and has been for more than a decade. So I don’t understand your comment about not being a need. You are right about negative gearing, which is a blight on our country, but the Plateau does include some cheaper blocks under the Building Better Regional Cities program. It is just one of the many strategies Lismore has to address the housing issue, along with plans to increase density in the Hospital precinct and encouraging granny flats.

      We are also working hard to improve our end of the Richond (Wilson River) by naturalising old drains to remove pollutants and improving riparian areas through re-vegetation and improved farming practices through our BMS and rural landholder initiatives.

      So we are trying hard on all the fronts you mentioned, but happy to hear more from you on improvements that could be made.


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