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September 18, 2021

Planning minister silent over West Byron development control plan

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The Harvest estate landscape master plan, supplied by Villa World.
The Harvest estate landscape master plan, supplied by Villa World.

Chris Dobney

Planning minister Anthony Roberts (Liberal) has not responded to communications from Byron Shire Council advising him it would take two months to have the proposed development control plan (DCP) for the controversial West Byron suburb peer reviewed.

The DCP is the only instrument through which the council and community can exert any control over the development as it is considered a state significant development.

Back in April, minister Roberts threatened the council he would personally intervene unless a DCP for West Byron was produced to his liking – and timing.

An undated letter he wrote to GM Ken Gainger said, ‘The proposed [DCP] amendments, if pursued, would likely result in significant land-forming works and clearing to enable drainage, and a loss of dwelling yield across the site.’

The letter went on to give council 28 days to ‘show cause as to why I should not… direct council to make the DCP’ without councillors’ proposed amendments.’

He added that ‘if I do issue such a direction, and council fails to comply with it, I may make the DCP myself

Peer review

But the council voted to go ahead with a peer review of the DCP, which was largely written by the developer with a handful of council amendments.

Director of sustainable environment and economy, Shannon Burt, said the council had written to the minster detailing the reasons for the delay and the peer reviews to be undertaken.

She told Echonetdaily, ‘to date there has been no follow-up response from the minister regarding the additional work being undertaken, or on following through with the threat to “make the plan”.’

Ms Burt said the peer review was currently underway on the issue of frogs, koalas, traffic and water and flood management.

She added it had bee resolved that the council:

‘Write to the Minister acknowledging and sharing Council’s concern of the time taken in completing the West Byron DCP, and include within the letter to the Minister:

  1. an acknowledgement of the importance of this site as an identified housing growth area as recently outlined in the State Government North Coast Regional Plan and that, as such, the community and council wish to ensure it follows best practice and rigorous planning processes in order to facilitate more effective development of the site
  2. the peer review process is intended to be completed within two months and as such, should not be seen as an onerous impediment to proper planning processes.’

In early April, developer Villa World Pty Ltd lodged a DA for 290 houses (around a third of the total land) without waiting for the DCP to be approved.

Villa World development manager Peter Johnson told Echonetdaily that owing to a change in NSW premier and planning minister, the company were unsure of a determination timeline and had instead circumvented the DCP.

 


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