Tonight’s meeting to reconsider a controversial application by shopping centre developer McConaghy Holdings to take over a portion of Lismore Park and extend its Lismore Square development may be illegal, according to a long-time Lismore City Council watcher.
Peter Bellew, who emailed Echonetdaily a video showing the parkland proposed for redevelopment underwater in last week’s rain, has written to the council giving it legal notice that he is prepared to challenge the outcome of tonight’s Extraordinary General Meeting in court and demanding to know why the council has refused to hold a public access session.
According to Mr Bellew, the council has brought forward the meeting, at which the development is due to be reconsidered following a rescission motion last year, from February 13 to tonight without giving residents proper notice.
Mr Bellew told Echonetdaily he has been ‘fighting to save Lismore Park for over 23 years.’
‘The park has been public community land since it was proclaimed Lismore Park in 1887. It’s been here for 130 years; it’s served the community very, very well. The councillors have no right to sell that land for public loss and private profit,’ he said.
Mr Bellew said he also had serious concerns about the suitability of the land and the effect of filling part of it for the shopping mall.
‘From looking at those videos, any fill that was put into that land would be an abrogation of public safety. That area is the basin, it takes in the whole of the rainfall all over Lismore Heights and East Lismore.
‘Brewster Street on that particular day was closed for over half an hour with water all over the road – and that’s the third time since September,’ he said.
Mr Bellew said in a legal notice to the council that it had failed to give sufficient notice of its plan to move forward consideration of the proposal and three other rescission motions.
He added that at least three of the councillors with strong views on all four motions had already taken leave of absence when the meeting was rescheduled.
‘Council sent out its newsletter on January 3 to all residents, ratepayers and businesses saying that this meeting would happen on February 13 and it has not given any indication publicly that this meeting was going to happen in January,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘The other thing is that for the first time in my recollection, the council has closed this meeting to public access – that is, it’s hiding.
‘Council is in breach of its legal obligations [regarding] due process.
‘Due process is having public access to all council meetings. There is no legal basis on which council has closed public access to this meeting.
‘[A challenge to] the change of date would also stand up in court.
‘This is a lowering of our democratic standards and it’s a great shame, Mr Bellew said.