Is there too much development in Lismore?

Dot Moller, Lismore

As a Lismore resident and rate payer, I have always been rather proud of our progressive and proactive Council. In conversations with my relatives in Queensland, I have been happy to speak of the Council’s forward thinking – Best Practice Waste Management, Solar farm initiatives and general interest in a sustainable environment.

Every week I receive a cute little brochure in the letterbox called ‘Local Matters’. On the back of this Council communication is a stunning photo of rolling vegetated green hills. I’m sure the inference is that this is the Lismore locality – beautiful and green. The Council has a vision ‘Imagine Lismore’ which contains inviting descriptions of a well-planned built environment surrounded by a pretty and sustainable green environment.

Unfortunately, in the last few years, developers seem to have got the ear of Council. Developments, on hold for years – with good reason – have now got the go-ahead big time. My understanding was that the ‘Imagine Lismore’ decision was to ban development on the ridges. This decision has clearly been thrown out. There are several ridges around Lismore ready and waiting…

Lismore’s population has been decreasing for a number of years. ‘In December 2019 the Department Planning, Industry & Environment (DPIE) released population projections that revise its 2016 projections down. Council acknowledges the lower projections but is continuing to plan for higher growth’. (2020 Draft Lismore Strategic Planning Statement)

The household average is now one to two persons. The demand at the moment is not for McMansions on large rural blocks with great views, but for centralised affordable housing. In McLean’s Ridges, ‘Large lot residential’ style blocks on the ridges have no town sewerage and sub-standard road design. Pushing development further and further out of the CBD has its downside.

My biggest concern is the current and proposed development on the North Lismore Plateau. This part of the Lismore precinct is pretty special. You can view the south end of the plateau from many places around the City. It is vegetated in the southern end and contains endangered plants and animals. The aboriginal heritage is spectacular in its extent and meaning to our original people. The Winton Group and Lismore Council are throwing millions of dollars at this one, in spite of community objections.

My understanding is that the Council has now, more than ever, little money to spare. Why are they backing this inappropriate trashing of heritage with their own funds? I have been told that the planned development on the plateau is the biggest project ever proposed on the North Coast.

Surely this is not the time to be ruining what we have left of our green hills. On the current trajectory, Lismore is set to become a look alike to any other town, with Sydney style suburbia along our ridges, dominating the landscape.

No amount of careful planning and ‘offsetting’, ever saved irreplaceable vegetation, and the animals that depend on that vegetation, from the bulldozer, humans, their cats and dogs. It would be a lovely surprise if our governing bodies learnt to say ‘No’ to development money. I would very much like to be able to boast about my Council again to the Queensland relatives.

After reading this piece, I hope Lismore residents take a moment to please ‘Have Your Say’ on the Lismore Council website.

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