The removal of Tweed Shire Council (TSC) from the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 2019 that allows rural land sharing communities (RLSC) such as multiple occupancies (MO) and community title (CT) took place at last night’s council meeting.
The move comes following numerous applications for RLSC such as the failed Bhula Bhula MO and the Nightcap Village MO that did not reflect the original intentions of the planning laws and instead appeared to be more in line with large scale residential housing subdivisions.
However, with the worsening affordable housing crisis there were those who felt that removing the option for RLSC was a negative outcome for the community overall.
‘Council’s own report admitted that MOs are an affordable housing option and I have a number of clients (as a town planner) looking at MO options in Tweed with small scale MO’s to find secure affordable housing,’ said town planner Shane Sylvanspring.
‘Its crazy this is happening in the middle of the worst housing crisis. They do not ruin the rural landscape as suggested rather enhance it as most MO’s are required to reforest areas as well enhance the environment. I feel this is a lazy way of addressing the issue rather than Tweed actually coming up with its own MO policy to stop misuse of the SEPP (like Nightcap has done) and refine areas appropriate for small scale MOs as Lismore and Byron have done.
‘Although their motion last night was based on a new local policy replacing the state policy as referred to in the rural strategy, no council motion or timeframe has been set to create this option and therefore this proposal could never be implemented,’ he told The Echo.
Reflecting this Councillor Katie Milne (Green) told the meeting ‘We had a presentation from a speaker tonight in regards to this item imploring us not to proceed with this amendment. I feel vey torn with this one.
‘The biggest problem we are facing is that because we have so much land zoned up in the Tweed Shire from so many years ago that has been land banked for decades. There is capacity for about 30,000 people to be homed in these developments that have been kicked down the road – and we are now in the middle of this housing crisis.’
Councillor Pryce Allsop (Conservative) sought to have the decision deferred so that it could be looked at in conjunction with the Rural Lands Strategy (RLS). However, staff pushed the point that it was and action that arose from the RLS ‘to cease participating in the current state policy and for the council to prepare its own local controls’.
Staff predicted that it would be around three to six months to finalise the withdrawal from the SEPP and about two years for the new regulations for council to be developed.
‘I think all of us in the room would like to provide the opportunity for people to do that was originally intended with RLSC,’ said Mayor Chris Cherry.
‘There is an appetite in the chamber it allow that going forward. The decision tonight is about whether we have the State Government version, being that it has led to the kind of application we have seen recently.
‘Our neighbouring councils all do allow RLSC but are not part of the SEPP. They have put in local land sharing provisions. In Lismore they have put a lot of thought into conditions of where and why RLSC can be, like not taking up prime agricultural land . We do want some form of RLSC but not what is currently being enabled by the SEPP.’
Mayor Cherry also pointed out that existing RLSCs will not be effected and that there are saving provisions being made for RSLC that have already put in applications that they put those application in on good faith.
The motion to remove the TSC from the SEPP was approved with Crs Allsop and Warren Polglase (Conservative) voting against.