Tweed Shire Cr Ron Cooper is celebrating a win after council voted on Thursday to retain a three-storey height limit in the Kingscliff Locality Plan, now on exhibition.
Councillors Byrnes, Cherry and mayor Milne voted with him to pass his revised plan, with councillors Allsop, Owen and Polglase voting against.
The plan is the end of a long battle for Cr Cooper, which began in 1983 when a plan was submitted for three eight-storey buildings in the seaside village.
Cr Cooper told Echonetdaily he thought the matter had been put to bed in 2008 when the height-limit was written in to the then Local Environment Plan (LEP).
He said the first challenge to the number of storeys allowed along Marine Parade came with the 2014 LEP, when the state government allowed higher per-floor measurements.
‘The state government changed the measurement for three storeys to 13.6 metres, instead of the accurate 12.2, and that allowed them to squeeze in another floor,’ he said.
‘And that meant wherever we thought three storeys were going to be, they could now put four.
‘And then the council did the Locality Plan, which is a means of varying the LEP, and that plan showed five and six-storey buildings as well.
‘Although you couldn’t call it high-rise, most people see it as the thin edge of the wedge,’ he said.
Community consultation flawed
After the initial plan was presented, showing substantial height increases last year, Cr Cooper began his own survey and a subsequent petition.
The then Mr Cooper told Echonetdaily at the time that of 1,250 residents and visitors surveyed, 97 per cent opposed buildings over three storeys.
Cr Cooper said he was ‘kicked off’ a council community committee after mounting the survey.
He then launched a petition that received some 14,000 signatures of support from locals and people residing in the surrounding areas.
‘When [the plan] finally went out on exhibition, it showed the six-storey building, even though the only mention of the height of the buildings in their own consultation was to retain the three-storey limit,’ he said.
At that point, Cr Cooper said, he decided to run for council, principally on the issue of the building heights.
‘The only one other thing I consider significant in my campaign is the way council consults – because that’s what led to this position.
‘We’ve got to engage more people in our consultation process.
‘Their idea of putting it out to the community and then picking them off one-by-one in a shopfront means that the average person, going into the shopfront saying they don’t want more than three storeys, ends up running into a planner who came up with the idea of going taller.
‘So they’re very much at a disadvantage,’ he said.