A ‘small daytime cafe’ restaurant at a cost estimated at $1.4m is proposed adjacent to Scarrabelotti’s Lookout, a popular visitor destination with commanding views of the Shire in Coorabell.
A reader alerted Echonetdaily to the DA, and said the plans would ‘effectively turn public land… at Scarrabelotti’s Lookout into a car park and the only access driveway for the restaurant’.
‘This land is zoned rural and the developer is seeking setback exemptions to fit on to steep land’, they added.
The lookout is so popular that Council staff have placed rocks to limit the parking in recent months. Camping at the location has been an ongoing issue, with rubbish and faeces a problem.
The DA comes with a voluntary planning agreement (VPA) with the applicant to use the public road as access to the restaurant. The VPA proposal includes construction of a widened sealed driveway on the road reserve and formalised car parking for nine spaces. ‘Of these, seven will be attributable to the proposed restaurant’.
Subs close April 17
Public exhibition for the 40-seat restaurant closes April 17 and submissions can be made in writing: PO Box 219, Mullumbimby NSW 2482 or email [email protected].
While the DA proposes 17 car parking spaces (and five restaurant employees), minutes of a meeting between staff and the applicant states there would be 14 car spaces. Opening hours as stated on the DA would be Wednesday to Friday from 10.30am to 2.30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 7.30am to 2.30pm.
On February 6, 2019 Council staff replied to an email to the landowner entitled ‘RE Consent to use and Occupy Council owned land – Scarrabelotti Lookout, Coolamon Scenic Drive, Coorabell’.
In the email, Council’s infrastructure planning co-ordinator ‘Recommended support for the the application subject to any further conditions that may arise from determination…’
The owners on the DA are listed as Byron Bay residents Paschal Grenquist, Yuuka Shibasaki and the General Manager of Council, owing presumably to the VPA.
The social impact statement says, ‘tourists will be a significant portion of customers’ to the restaurant and that ‘the proponent’s dwellings will be built on the land with access near James View Court. This will help with the management and surveillance of the public spaces’.
Land zoning and permissibility
As for land zoning and permissibility, the DA claims, ‘The subject land is zoned 7(d) Scenic Escarpment Zone pursuant to the Byron Local Environmental Plan 1988’.
‘The proposed land use is defined as a ‘restaurant’ pursuant to the Dictionary to the LEP, which is permissible with development consent within the 7(d) zone.
‘It is considered that the proposed variation to the 55m building line is reasonable (particularly given the topographic constraints of the site). In addition, the characteristics of the site and the proposed development are such that the development will not adversely impact road safety or intrude or dominate the streetscape’.
The social impact statement continues, ‘The landowner’s vision is to provide customers with a full service establishment so that they can enjoy a meal, drink and relax while taking in the amazing view’.
‘Several detailed meetings have been held with Council regarding gaining access to the site through the part of the road reserve that forms Scarrabelotti’s Lookout. Council sees potential benefit in working with the landowner to rejuvenate the Lookout and provide surveillance and security of this important public place. As such the road entrance, access road and car parking will be formalised and constructed as part of the development. It is planned to lodge a Voluntary Planning Agreement, in conjunction with the development application, to formalise the Lookout rejuvenation and sharing arrangements with Council.
‘The proposed restaurant intends to interface the Lookout to provide surveillance and a sense of activity rather than just utilise the road reserve purely to access the restaurant. The vision is that by rejuvenating the Lookout it feels more accessible and safer to the public, and less attractive to loiterers.
‘It is felt that with the business operating on almost a daily basis, opening early in the morning, will allow better ongoing surveillance of the Lookout, as well as being a natural deterrent to people looking to find a hidden camping spot overnight. Additionally, the landowners are soon to construct their approved dwellings on the land. This will add an important additional dimension to surveillance of the Lookout outside business hours’.
‘It is hoped that having an operating business will also help in controlling of the illegal dumping of garbage at the Lookout and in neighbours’ bins. It will be in the interest of the business to keep the Lookout rubbish free as this will be its “public face”. Council is yet to commit to placing rubbish bins on the lookout but as the development moves forward the landowner will continue discussions with Council.
‘A locked gate will be provided to restrict access outside operating hours’.
As for the affect the development would have on the current lookout, the social impact statement says,’The formalised car spaces, with kerb and guttering, will ultimately reduce the available area of where camping cars can park. At present 17 car spaces are proposed, eight of which are on the restaurant land. These eight spaces will have a locked gate outside operating hours. The other 9 are on the road reserve proper. The other three spaces are shown as indicative only, and Council is yet to decide if it is appropriate to include those car spaces’.
‘Scarrabelotti’s Lookout is in a dilapidated state at present, occupied most often as an illegal camping ground. The bulk of the rubbish and faeces from the camping end up on the subject land. The landowner also reports of illegal trespassing and squatting on a regular basis. At present the campers only utilise the Lookout as it feels like an abandoned wasteland where they will not be disturbed or likely to be fined by Council’s rangers.
‘As stated above, the rejuvenation of the lookout and the activity of the adjacent restaurant will make the area look “well loved” reducing the chance of nuisance, harm or crime in and around the Lookout.
‘Additionally, the proponent’s dwellings will be built on the land with access near James View Court. This will help with the management and surveillance of the public spaces’.
Views of neighbours are included within the DA, and one claiming to be one of the closest says, ‘As much as we’d love to play chess and have coffee and brekky nearby, I would like to point out a few possible negative aspects of this development that you or council may not have considered’.
‘Garbage – Just down the hill from the lookout is the entrance to James View Court marked by a row of garbage bins. Our bins get mysteriously filled up sometimes which we guess comes from illegal campers just up the hill at Scarrabelottis Lookout. With the proposed wider and paved entry plus 20 nicer parking spacesI think we can safely expect the bin problem to worsen. We sometimes put locks on our bins which is incredibly inconvenient for us.
‘Security – Your letter says that the council sees potential benefit by it providing surveillance and security of this important public place. But the restaurant will only be open in the morning, supposedly, while most of the illegal camping activities occur at night.
‘Illegal Camping – a) Illegal camping is areal issue at the lookout. At the moment it’s a push to get more than three campers into the location, but your proposal is to widen the road to 6m and pave it allowing for larger and more vehicles to enter. Some months ago someone, perhaps the council (I don’t know), situated several large boulders to inhibit the entry of more camping vehicles. This proposal does the opposite. It widens the road and invites even more. Your drawing shows the addition of 20 parking spaces! I can guarantee you that they will be consumed by camping vehicles overnight instead of the odd annoying 4 vehicles. At the very least they may commandeer some of your parking spaces. b) For all the reasons the council prohibits camping at that spot this development will only encourage more of it. We spoke to the council about this problem and they don’t have the manpower to police it.
‘If all these issues did not exist, it could be neat having a small cafe nearby with such a nice view’.