More houses, less trees. That was the unsurprising outcome at the last Ballina Council meeting for the DA proposed for 180-190 North Creek Road, Lennox Head.
The former pony paddock near the start of Montwood Drive is now going to be divided into 11 lots, across 12,000 square metres, including an as-yet undefined number of buildings and a central cul-de-sac access road which will eliminate most of the trees on the block.
Representing the developer, Ben Lane described the DA as ‘small’ and spoke about the many delays that slowed the progress of the development, including COVID and multiple consultations, changes and document requests from council.
Mr Lane said he had a ‘soft spot’ for Lennox, having been there on holidays for many years, and noted that with the R3 zoning, 11 lots on such a parcel of land was ‘relatively conservative in current standards of what’s being approved.’
In closure he said it would be ‘great to see the approval supported and would make for an early Christmas present.’
The motion was moved by Cr Eoin Johnston and seconded by Cr Ben Smith.
Cr Johnston said he’d read the objections and understood they were ‘quite strenuous’.
He said his biggest concern was the removal of 21 trees, along with extra traffic congestion in the area, but said the applicant had crossed the requested hurdles and deserved to be supported.
Cr Sharon Cadwallader spoke against the motion, on the grounds that no integrated development was proposed and the trees to be destroyed included a 40 year old Moreton Bay Fig, along with 20 other trees.
Speaking for the development, Cr Ben Smith accepted that the loss of trees was ‘not 100% perfect’ but said at least the ‘iconic’ Norfolk Pines would be preserved.
He said if the development was rejected there was no guarantee it wouldn’t return in a similar form sooner or later, saying the developer had made many compromises for all the stakeholders and ‘we can’t ask much more than what they’ve put forward.’
Cr Jeff Johnson spoke against the development, particularly due to the traffic issues on North Creek Road, which he said was becoming an ‘increasingly busy and dangerous road’.
Cr Meehan disagreed, saying he had ‘all the confidence in the world’ regarding the interaction of neighbouring roads, and accepted advice from traffic engineers that the intersection could be made safe.
Cr Keith Williams said he would support approval. He suggested that the fact the land had been rezoned by a previous council made development inevitable.
‘We need to be much more selective about what we rezone in future,’ he added.
Mayor David Wright said he would support the development, reluctantly. He was unhappy about the loss of the fig and potential parking and traffic issues.
Returning to the subject of the fig tree, Cr Johnston said he ‘heard Cr Cadwallader’s pain’ but suggested ‘fig trees don’t mix anywhere near buildings or residential areas… They look beautiful from a long way away but they’re not a particularly stable tree.’
The motion to approve the development was carried, with only Crs Jeff Johnson and Sharon Cadwallader voting against.