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Byron Shire
January 29, 2022

Ballina Council defers decision on Skennars Head development

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Proposed Skennars Head expansion. Photo supplied.

The Ballina Council decision on increasing the commercial zone of the major development at Skennars Head, opposite Sharps Beach, by 15 times that of the original application has been deferred.

The development is for a residential subdivision comprising 227 residential lots, five public reserve lots, seven super lots for future subdivision, five utility lots and one residue lot by Intrapac Property. Following their second DA they have now applied for a significant increase of the size of the Neighbourhood Commercial zone from 0.087ha to 1.32ha and they are seeking a re-zoning of 2.9ha of the 28.29ha site from R2 low density housing to R3 medium density housing that would allow blocks as small as 300m2.

Ballina Shire Council today deferred the decision on the Skennars Head development. Photo supplied.

Ballina Council originally refused any blocks less that 400m2, however, with the application to change the zoning from R2 to R3 under state legislation that will allow for medium density blocks at 300m2,’ said Ballina councillor Keith Williams.

‘The council has decided to defer the decision today to a council briefing with a view to reducing the size of the commercial floor space in the development. However, the developer is using state planning rules to get around what council sought, keeping blocks to a minimum of 400m2, and it is hard for council to stop that.’

Development of the commercial area

Max Shifman, Chief Operating Officer of Intrapac Property has told Echonetdaily that Intrpac ‘want to ensure the commercial area is viable for the long-term. The risk in reducing the size of the commercial space is that it will not have the critical mass to work.’

This position is disputed by president of the Lennox Head residents association Monica Wilcox.

The developers have blatantly said they want to attract people from the coast road and the beach to the commercial area but this is supposed to be a community area and village,’ says Ms Wilcox. 

‘There has been no assessment from the RMS regarding the increase in traffic from the increased housing and commercial precinct.

‘This is just overdevelopment game play. They are just trying to capitalise on the area to the detriment of the local community.’

The Coast Road at Skennars Head is in danger of being blighted by strip development and traffic lights, according to Ballina Shire Cr Jeff Johnson. Photo Experimental Ghost

Seeking medium density

Intrapac are also claiming that they are seeking medium density lots as a response to the market research they have done for the area.

‘The rezoning covers a very small portion of the overall site and the increase in overall dwelling yield is minimal,’ said Mr Shifman.

Any concerns this would greatly affect the area are overstated. We also know that there is a desire for smaller lots. The market research for the area indicates this. There can’t be a one-size fits all approach to housing.’

Yet Ms Wilcox says they are using the community consultation they did to overdevelop the area in the name of affordable housing, variety of housing stock and broader socio-economic mix.

‘The market research didn’t support smaller lots, they did a community consultation and the community said they wanted a variety of housing choices,’ says Ms Wilcox.

‘The reality is that any housing within 500m of the coastline in this region is not going to be affordable.

‘This is the second DA and the moment that they finished submitting it they asked for increased commercial space and housing density. The developers are using the strategy of keep pushing until they wear people out and the community gives in.

‘They haven’t provided any more open space with the increase in both commercial and housing density and they are trying to claim that the coastal reserve space is part of their open space provision. The developer has an obligation to provide open space.

‘They are just trying to capitalise on the area to the detriment of the local community. The fact is that this is our community and the development has to be well done. We want a quality, sensitive development for the people who live here.’

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