A contentious plan to build 15 residential units on the former Telstra site on Lismore Rd, Bangalow looks set to get the green light at this Thursday’s meeting after the developer amended its plans while simultaneously planning legal action.
The proposal, which features a mix of one, two and three bedroom units, is the latest ‘affordable housing’ development from developer The Kollective which has half-a-dozen other, similar projects across the Shire.
The application will come before Byron Council’s first Planning and Development meeting for the year this Thursday, with staff recommending approval.
However, scores of residents continue to oppose the development, arguing that will create overcrowding, be out of character with the surrounding area, and have insufficient green space and parking.
‘This is Bangalow, not Alexandria,’ said Ben Gilmour, who lives a few doors down from the proposed development with his young family.
‘I understand that there’s a need for places to live in the Byron Shire, but many of us escaped the city because we felt suffocated by the claustrophobic nature of life there. We don’t want that recreated here.’
Before L&E court
After lodging its original Development Application (DA) in April last year, The Kollective lodged a Class 1 action in the Land & Environment Court (LEC) the following month for what it described as Council’s ‘deemed refusal’ of the application.
In response to this move, Council produced a statement setting out its concerns with the proposal.
These included that it had inadequate light access, exceeded the maximum height level for the area, and created privacy and overshadowing issues for neighbours.
At a subsequent meeting late last year The Kollective offered to amend its proposal, reducing the total number of units from 17 to 15, redesigning the five studio apartments, and breaking the largest of the proposed buildings into two separate structures.
Soon after, Council received legal advice from Marsden Solicitors about the likely costs of legal action (up to $28,000) and their prospects of success.
Staff subsequently recommended that councillors approve the proposal.
‘It is considered that the amended proposal, which now substantially complies with relevant regulatory requirements, is appropriate for the site, and consistent with the character of the locality,’ Council’s major project planner Rob Van Iersel and Legal Counsel Ralph James said in a report to Council.
‘The amended proposal provides a better balance between increased housing diversity, which is lacking in Bangalow, and maintaining the character of the village.’
But Mr Gilmour disagrees.
‘I would like to see more will from Council to push back against this inner-city style development,’ he said.
‘Council’s feeling pressure to increase housing in the area, but I don’t think packing people in like this is the solution. I think the solution is to loosen the regulations for building appropriate housing on the large swathes of rural land that are no longer being used for farming.’