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May 19, 2021

Skennars Head development gets go-ahead

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The Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP, formerly the JRPP) has ‘electronically’ approved a contentious 229-lot housing estate at Sharpes Beach, Skennars Head, after reserving a decision at its December meeting.

Ballina Council had given its in principle support to the proposal with a series of ‘deferred commencement’ conditions, mostly relating to environmental concerns.

At the December meeting, developer Intrapac fought strenuously to have the conditions removed. The NRPP has largely obliged, instead inserting amended conditions into the approval, including Intrapac’s offer to dedicate a coastal buffer to Ballina Shire Council.

A wildlife corridor plan is no longer required over the bulk of the site and the developer has been given the opportunity to remediate another degraded site within a five kilometre radius (including Council land) instead of doing so on its own site.

The panel said it removed ‘redundant conditions’ and ‘minor changes to numerous conditions’ for ‘reasons of consistency and sequencing of the development’.

At public access last year, community representatives raised environmental issues, together with concerns that the expanded shopping centre plan would attract extra traffic to the site.

They also had concerns about the increase in medium density housing requested by the developer for the site.

But in its judgement the panel said it considered that ‘concerns raised by the community have been adequately addressed in the assessment report and supplementary report’ and that ‘no new issues requiring assessment were raised during the public meeting’.

Local media reports that Intrapac is set to start development, which it has dubbed ‘Aureus’, as soon as April.

Ballina’s mayor David Wright and alternates Nathan Willis, Sharon Cadwallader and Eoin Johnston all recused themselves from the panel, owing to their previous negotiations with the developers over the plan.

As a result, the size of the panel was reduced to just three state-appointed members: Pamela Westing, Stephen Gow and chair Garry West.


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