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Byron Shire
April 16, 2021

Lismore Square extension meeting ‘may be illegal’

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Part of the land that could be sold to developer McConaghy Holdings during last week’s ‘mini-flood’ in Lismore. Photo Peter Bellew

Chris Dobney

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.

Legal notice

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.

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  1. I don’t know where you got the words
    “… may be illegal.”
    Of course it is illegal for a private enterprise to take over public parkland when that land is flood-prone land.
    If that land is built on by the shopping centre they can sue the council for letting them build there.
    Why is the land parkland? Because it is prone to floods and that means it is doing a good job by releasing the pressure of water when the floods come. If that land is built on then the buildings raise the water of the flood, thereby flooding other businesses. Those other businesses also can sue council, and if one business can do it then all the whole Lismore CBD will be able to sue council for raising the water levels during a flood.

  2. Peter Bellew needs to read the motion before Council and not simply make stuff up as he goes along. I am not going to do this for him but put simply the motion before Council, which tonights rescission motion seeks to overturn, makes no reference to selling public land. Never has. Maybe never will.

  3. Thank you Peter and The Echo for bringing this to our attention. Apart from the fact that having Lismore Park is much more important to many people than having yet another tedious shopping mall or another block of flats, having public land sold out from under us is outrageous. That a few people who have been elected to do the best for the community are in power for a very short time should be allowed to dispose of community park land – especially now, when populations are rising is actually quite short sighted. We should be building up – no out – if more shops are needed (and I doubt that).

    These fields are an important hub for growing youngsters. And then there’s the environmental aspect. They are catchment areas in times of flood and we all know how quickly the water rises there.

    Rather funds should be put into making them better focuses for the community – that would be a real community service.

  4. Lismore does not need further commercial development. The flood last year has put enormous pressure on the ones that did just manage to “keep their heads above water”… The parkland provides a much needed recreation area, notwithstanding tthe flooding issues, etc.
    In addition, all discussions need to be taken up with public scrutiny in this matter. Council are caretakers only.
    This land belongs to the residents of Lismore.


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