Plans for rural/wedding events in the RU2 Rural Landscape Zone and RU1 Primary Production Zone will be sent to the state government after they were voted upon at last Thursday’s Council planning meeting.
The motion, penned by Greens mayor Simon Richardson, will see Council also ‘review existing planning provisions relating to restaurants in the rural zones, to ensure that the controls adequately protect rural amenity and prevent disturbance to neighbours’.
Crs Martin, Lyon, Ndiaye, Richardson (all Greens) and Hunter voted in favour of the amendment.
Crs Coorey, Cameron, and Hackett voted against.
Staff recommended in their report that the proposed approval mechanism not be extended to the RU1 and be limited to a three-year ‘rolling approval’ for up to 20 events per annum over a three-year period, with an ability to re-apply at the end of the three years.
During debate, Cr Richardson said as a local of Federal, and a neighbour to an event site, he had no issue with noise.
Cr Cameron’s motion unsupported
A push by Cr Basil Cameron to not proceed with the planning proposal owing to its being ‘inconsistent with RU2 zone objectives’ was voted down, with the mayor adding, ‘You can’t wish things away; the reality is that people are using the land for this activity.’
It was a sentiment supported by the National Party-aligned Cr Alan Hunter, who said, ‘You won’t stop anything by closing it down; we should encourage the good ones to go ahead’.
Yet Cameron said that multiple events per year went beyond ‘small scale’ events.
He said, ‘Buses up rural roads… up to 150 people a time… multiple times a year… this impinges on rural amenity’.
While he claimed the roads were not dealt with in the motion, it later emerged that roads will be required to be of a ‘suitable standard’, a decision under staff delegation.
Meanwhile Cr Jan Hackett (Labor) said such a proposal ‘will lead to growth and overtake farming lands’.
Primary production RU1 zoning should be left off the proposal, she added.
Cr Cate Coorey said the workshops were ‘heavily represented by the wedding industry,’ and was concerned Council were creating something ‘we can’t pull back’.
Her motion to delay until there was ‘further certainty for residents of rural areas’ regarding court decisions and integration with Council’s Sustainable Visitation Strategy was knocked back by the Greens-led majority.
Cr Coorey’s motion also limited the numbers of event days to ten per calendar year instead of 20, and required a sealed road, ‘with an average pavement width over 6m with sufficient capacity for the traffic volume and type generated by the function centre, and that buses are able to access and exit the property.’
Cr Coorey said theoretically event operators already have a right to these events, given a past court case.
‘This will also drive the land prices higher.
‘How do we implement compliance and oversight? It’s a great deal of work for staff and virtually no money coming into Council’.
During their speeches, the Greens mayor and Greens Cr Sarah Ndiaye lavished praise on staff for creating the policy. ‘Behaviour determines whether you continue [as a rural events operator],’ said the mayor, ‘That’s what management is about’.
At one point the mayor deleted RU1 and R5 zonings from the motion after fellow Greens Cr Lyon raised concern, yet they were later included again at the last minute.
Asked how the acoustic assessment would work, staff replied that they would be site specific and undertaken after a DA is lodged.
‘That modelling would predict the impacts, then there are environmental considerations…’ they said.
It also emerged that many of the past issues with loud rural events had largely been addressed through compliance.