The public gallery was packed for the final meeting of the year for Ballina Council last Thursday.
The first item was a rescission motion moved by Cr Keith Williams to overturn the approval of a controversial DA on the ridge line of the Newrybar scenic escarpment.
Cr Williams said this is not just about a house and a road, but whether we will defend our planning scheme. ‘The only reason the 7d(1) Scenic Escarpment Zone exists is to prevent inappropriate development on the ridgeline.’
The area is also an environmental protection zone and mapped a wildlife corridor.
The property owners were successfully prosecuted by Council in 2018 for the unauthorised construction of an access road to the site across a rainforest gully.
Some Councillors expressed concern that a refusal could be appealed to Land and Environment Court, imposing unnecessary costs on Council.
SEPA would appeal an approval
In summing up, Cr Williams responded that as the Scenic Escarpment Protection Alliance (SEPA) would also likely appeal an approval, the threat of legal action, either way, should not be a factor in the decision.
SEPA representative Ian Peter said the group were pleased to see that the majority of councillors voted to uphold the planning objectives of the Newrybar Scenic Escarpment Zone, and the development controls to discourage and prohibit inappropriate ridgeline development. ‘The majority of Councillors agreed with the many residents who wrote objections,’ he said. ‘They turned up en force for the Council debate, that this proposed development was not compatible with Ballina Shire Council’s planning and development objectives for the area.
‘We were glad to see it refused.’
Big turnout of residents at Council chambers
Mr Peter said there was a big turnout of residents at Ballina Council chambers to witness the refusal of a development proposed for the ridgeline of the Newrybar Scenic Escarpment. ‘The DA was refused 6 to 4 based on non-compliance with objectives outlined in the Ballina LEP for the Newrybar Scenic Escarpment protection Zone,’ he said. ‘Councillors argued the primary objective of the zone was to protect the escarpment from development which might impact on the scenic amenity and the natural environment of the area.
‘The Ridgeline Development proposal was also considered non-compliant with regulations outlined in the Ballina DCP. This was at times a heated debate, and one in which misinformation played a fortunately not decisive role.’
The DA was refused with Cr Steve McCarthy changing his vote from the previous meeting.