Plans for a 457-house residential development west of Ballina have taken a major step forward after the developer secured a court victory over Ballina Council last week.
Developer Intrapac is expected to begin subdividing lots on the 215-hectare site at Cumbalum – known as ‘Precinct A’ – within weeks, after the Land and Environment Court judgment on June 22.
The town planner hired by Intrapac in relation to the project, Steve Connelly, said the court’s decision paved the way for the project to go ahead.
‘Our guys will now prepare a construction certificate,’ said Mr Connelly, from Planners North.
‘After that’s approved, bulldozers will turn up on site and convert the cow paddocks into building lots.’
The decision marks the end of a long, drawn-out application process in which Ballina Council and Intrapac struggled to reach agreement over multiple aspects of the proposal.
Ultimately the dispute came down to just two environmental conditions which the Council wanted to impose on the project. These would have required future homeowners to take ‘biodiversity stewardship’ over certain sections of the site, giving them responsibility for protecting and maintaining these areas.
The developer opposed the conditions, arguing that they were based on a mistaken interpretation of the ecological report made in relation to the site.
Land and Environment Court Commissioner Graham Brown found in favour of the developer.
‘The experts agreed that the applicant’s version of this condition is acceptable and on this basis, I accept that it is the appropriate condition,’ Mr Brown said.
Mr Connelly said his client was relieved at the decision.
‘It’s been a long time… they’re relieved to have development consent that will allow them to proceed.’
But it is unlikely everyone will be happy.
Precinct A is part of a broader residential development at Cumbalum that will bring thousands of new residents into the area, transforming its character.
Around 20 locals have formally objected to this change, arguing that will have a negative impact on the character of the local area, local business and that it will cause significant overcrowding of Lennox Head.