The competing pressure between the need for housing and maintaining the character and built form of areas that local communities desire was bought into sharp relief at the previous Tweed Shire Council meeting (1 July) as councillors discussed a development application (DA) for 39 town houses 17 swimming pools in Kingscliff.
Independent councillor Ron Cooper said ‘We are not producing houses that people will be able to get into… This won’t solve our housing crisis’ referring to the 33 lot community title subdivision at 4-8 Bells Boulevard, Kingscliff (DA20/0466).
In relation to the ‘claim that some houses should be made affordable by reducing the number of bedrooms – in that location there will never be affordable housing even if they got down to studio size,’ he told The Echo.
However, Cr Cooper said the DA shouldn’t be refused because the council had set the precedent as 40 Sutherland Street.
‘Staff were using front, back and side setback reductions as a reason to refuse the development. I pointed out that staff had allowed similar reduction in setbacks at 40 Sutherland St, Kingscliff under delegated authority and if a refusal was taken to court that would be used as a precedent,’ he told The Echo.
At the meeting Cr Cooper said that ‘the state government are saying that this [development] is the missing middle’.
Conservative councillors Warren Polglase and Pryce Allsop moved a motion to defer the decision to a workshop for councillors, proponents and council staff.
Cr Polglase said that ‘we as a council with the proponent have got to work a lot harder to move forward to get these things approved. At the end these decisions by council relates to selling materials and someone getting a job out of it. If the conditions can be reasonably addressed I think there is the possibility of an outcome. I’m sure we can get a reasonable outcome where there is a win-win for the benefit of everybody.’
Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) supported a workshop saying she found it ‘a tricky proposal because we need the housing… and we need to adhere to the built form of the area but we do need more diversity.’
Developers pushing for exemptions delays DAs
‘We are showing that what we are doing is not working. In principle, I support the idea but the cumulative total of all the variations – it’s too much. The setbacks and areas for deep soil are important for the future. These are things our community has agreed on about what makes a good outcome for the future. It is frustrating that we keep getting applications [that don’t meet the controls]. Some planning organisations are not telling people that they would get a much smoother process [through council] if they did not ignore the [planning] controls. We need to take those controls seriously. We really need to bring things much more in line with the controls we do have.’
The deferral to a workshop was also supported by Councillor Katie Milne (Green) who said that ‘we are talking a short deferral. Lets see if we can come up with something that the staff and the councillors can support.’
Sustainable development key
Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc (KRPA) told The Echo that they support sustainable development of the town and surrounding areas.
‘Our members wholeheartly agree with and support Councillor’s comments and very real concerns with the number of development applications that simply do not meet requirements for approval,’ said KRPA Peter Newton.
‘In far too many cases, applications completely ignore the base standards required for development consideration. There are also other cases, in major projects, where the development application itself has varied considerably from the consent approval granted by Council to submit a development application.
‘This simply means that community ratepayers are being short-changed due to the additional time and resources required by Council officers and Councillor’s to deal with applications that quite obviously have no chance of being approved.
‘Our members and the community welcome and support planned and sustainable development for the growth of the region. However, this needs to, and can only occur, within the development frameworks that exist to protect the very fabric and amenity of our wonderful part of the world.’
Councillors voted unanimously to support the DA to be deferred for a workshop between Councillors, staff and the proponent.
♦ The story was updated on 14 July, 2021 with further comments from Councillor Cooper