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Editorial – This is not COVID-19 related

Hans Lovejoy, editor

While a virus sweeps across the planet and through humanity, this Thursday in the Mullum chambers you will find a dedicated bunch of Council staff and elected councillors thrashing over contentious local planning issues. In varying degrees of abilities.

Development, in case you missed it, is not only steaming ahead, it’s being ramped up by the state government.

There’s no better time to plunder while chaos reigns.   

Within Council’s agenda there’s a few contentious items, notably a Main Arm DA which requires a road that appears to be inappropriate and in a remote area. And the access that needs to be granted by neighbours is not forthcoming. Approval for the dual occupancy can, and will likely, lead to increased development in years to come.

An explanation from planning staff is needed – why weren’t residents invited to meet staff to canvass their concerns, as Duncan Day says in the page 6 story?

Why should residents trust the planning process when there are a litany of poor decisions in recent years?

Simply put, the councillors in charge are not up for the task of keeping planning staff (at least) in line with community expectations. 

The Main Arm DA is interesting because it shows how third party consultants have very little powers in the decision making.

For example, take Rural Fore Service (RFS) guidelines.

In response to Council on March 13, RFS stated that ‘Council is the consent authority, [in] matters relating to legal access and owners consent’.

So is RFS input just a formality that can be ignored?

Additionally planning staff admit within their report that approval does not comply with policy regarding suitable vehicular access (Clause 6.6(e) of the Byron Local Environmental Plan 2014).

Then why recommend approval?

Since the fake Greens took control in 2016, there has been a spectacular failure in Council’s leadership when it comes to appropriate and responsible planning, especially around residential amenity.

Perhaps instead of failure, it is a cunning plan to facilitate never ending growth?

Also up for debate on Thursday is a DA for the Linnaeus Estate, which is located on the pristine beach between Lennox and Broken Head. Remarkably, staff recommend Council withdraw its support for the planning proposal, ‘and request the Minister to determine that the planning proposal not proceed.’

Staff admit there were ‘fundamental errors’ in the way the existing and proposed LEP Controls for this site apply to ‘land zoned SP1 Special Activities – Mixed use development’.

Moving on: Those who take an interest in wordy documents that shape the future of the Shire can put their minds to Council’s latest forward planning strategy, called the draft Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS).   

It’s available at www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/LSPS and is on public exhibition.

To be fair, this is a state government directive, meaning Council cannot refuse to exhibit and then adopt this in some form or another. It is being trumpeted by planning staff as being ‘designed to link the state’s strategic plans with Council’s land use plans and guidelines.’

As if there isn’t enough on everyone’s plate. Stay safe everyone!

News tips are welcome: [email protected]


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