The enormous Nightcap Village development application (DA) for multiple rural land sharing communities (RLSC) or multiple occupancies (MO) near Uki, stretching between Mt Burrell and Kunghur, that is seeking approval for a ‘staged concept development’ was under discussion at last Thursday’s (1 July) Tweed Shire Council (TSC) meeting.
The original DA for the RLSC and associated works over 21 lots which are to be subdivided into 11 lots on the 1584.34 ha site. The application seeks approval for 392 dwelling plots over 10 lots to create 10 interconnected Rural Land Sharing Communities with the remaining lot to contain all of the RU5 Village zoned land. This was costed at $37 million for its Capital Investment Value (CIV) which exceeded the $30 million threshold that councils are able to determine and meant it would go to be determined by the Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP). However, TSC sought legal advice and ‘costs associated with site sewer, rainwater tanks and solar systems should be excluded from the calculation of the CIV for the proposed development (therefore a CIV of $21,918,830’ according to the report to council. This would have meant that the DA could have been considered by council.
The Council requested that the applicant withdraw the DA, however, instead they chose to submit a revised CIV on 16 June that saw the costs increased to $39,850,000.
‘Items that were previously contended by Council such as: water tanks, septic tanks and solar systems have been removed. Costings for road works have been revised and bridges have now been included,’ states the report.
‘This is one of the most challenging As we’ve had before us,’ Councillor Warren Polglase (Conservative) told the TSC meeting. ‘It make one wonder if it is viable’.
‘I think that the report highlights that this development is so far out of the ball park that it shouldn’t have been on the table,’ said Councillor Katie Milne (Greens).
The report to council states that ‘the proposed development is prohibited on a number of grounds’ and lists 10 grounds on which the DA should be rejected.
Offsets alone $27m
‘The Development Application was referred externally to: Natural Resources Access Regulator, Heritage, Community Engagement – Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Rural Fire Service, Department of Planning Industry & Environment – Biodiversity and Conservation Division. All of the agencies either required further information or did not support the proposal. The Biodiversity and Conservation Division advised that they estimate the proposed development would require extensive land clearing of approximately 106ha of native vegetation with a further 220ha of impact in native populations and areas described as “cleared/grassed paddocks with scattered trees, regrowth and weed thickets”. The cost of Biodiversity Offsets required to offset the loss of biodiversity values to enable the proposed development is estimated in excess of $27 million,’ the report stated.
‘…because the proposed development is prohibited the Council does not have the power to grant it development consent.’
Councillor Milne highlighted the extensive costs that were going to be incurred by the DA and that this is prior to any individual development for houses etc.
‘I am extremely concerned that the people who have invested in it that it is going to be $40m for road works before it even gets off the ground; before a house, sewerage, a water tank,’ she told the meeting.
Send to NRPP
The Council report recommended that the DA be sent to the NRPP rather than seeking another assessment of the CIV to determine if it could be determined by council.
‘Whilst there is limited detail on items such as bridges in the development application the revised CIV is taken on face value and rather prolong conjecture about the CIV it is recommended to continue the application on the pathway of Regional Development and refer this assessment to the Northern Regional Planning Panel for determination,’ the report said.
Speaking to the meeting Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) said, ‘The current recommendation assumes that the CIV costs take it to the NRPP. But it could come back to council. If this proposal was to come back to council it would be recommended to be refused.’
‘They [the applicants] haven’t been able to demonstrate that it won’t have adverse impacts. The idea that they will relocate the wildlife corridors is not in line with the SEPP (State Environment Planning Policy). In the report it says that the 106ha of clearing, that would require an offset at a cost of $27m.
‘In seeking to have the assessment by NRPP they are seeking to avoid councils density controls. However, it doesn’t meet the SEPP either [under which the NRPP will assess the application] it has to do one or the other. I support that it goes two NRPP. If they warrant that it should come back to us then I strongly believe that this is not an appropriate development for that site.’
The vote by councillors was unanimous that the staff recommendation be supported and that the DA go to the NRPP and that if it returns to council for determination that the general manager.