The developer, Goldcoral, are seeking to amend its development application via cl.55 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000 to a ‘proposed concept DA’ (development application).
The request follows the withdrawal of the Masterplan by the developer in July form the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DOPIE), however, the developer did not withdraw the amended DA which is still with Richmond Valley Council. Under the legislation (SEPP 71) that the original DA was submitted seven years ago in 2014 the Masterplan was required to be approved for the development to proceed.
The application for the amendment is now with the Northern Region Planning Panel (NRPP) under the chair of Mr Paul Mitchell. Cr Robert Hayes, a Richmond Valley Councillor who some have said has been a proponent for the development, is also on the Panel. The Panel is due to meet with Council and the developer on today 6 September.
(Update: 6 September at 4.50pm – Cr Hayes and alternate Simpson have declared a ‘conflict of interest’ in the Iron Gates matter and are no longer involved.)
According to a Record of Briefing on the Panel website, the NRPP requested a ‘briefing report to assist them in determining whether to accept the proposed amendment to the application’, and a written submission from Richmond Valley Council ‘outlining their position around the cl55 request’ from the developer.
The NRPP has published the comprehensive briefing report and it is available for public scrutiny online. For those interested in the detailed report and related documents including a 19 October 2020 assessment of the proposal by the NSW Government Architect, the reference number under the Planning Panel’s website is PPS-2014NTH020.
According to Dr Richard Gates from Evans Head, the briefing report is very clear it is conclusions that the ‘amendments should not be accepted by the Panel’. The briefing report sets out a detailed analysis of the proposed amendments according to the regulations and other planning laws and concludes that the application ‘has failed to provide sufficient information…’ ‘for the consent authority to make a thorough assessment of the proposal’, both the development application and draft master plan.
In support of its Recommendations the briefing report notes that:
‘• The proposed amendments do not resolve the fundamental issues with the application
(notwithstanding that a full assessment has not been undertaken);
- Acceptance of the amendments would place additional financial burdens on the
Council which cannot be recovered;
- The development application has been under consideration for almost seven (7) years
and it is considered that the applicant has had sufficient time to address the issues;
- The legislative context under which the development application is currently being
considered no longer reflects the Government’s policy context on many of the issues
which arise in this assessment. The complex issues on this site should be considered
and assessed under the most recent guidelines;
- The proposed amendments fail to provide sufficient information to satisfy Sections
4.22(1) and 4.23(3) of the EP&A Act and Clause 55(2) of the Regulations, particularly
having regard to Clause 20(2) of SEPP 71;
- The proposed amendments generally rely on Consultants reports and documentation
prepared between 2014 and 2019, being more than seven (7) years old and therefore
lacking an integrated and updated review of the complex matters involved in this
- There is currently insufficient information to ascertain whether the proposal involves
works which are classified as designated development, which if it is the case is outside
the scope of Clause 55.’
Dr Gates said today that ‘it was very pleasing to see such transparency in decision-making about such a controversial matter and commended the NRPP for making the detailed reports available to the public and for commissioning it in the first place. We now await the decision of the NRPP and how it treats the recommendations for refusal of the application.
‘This whole Iron Gates matter has been around for more than a quarter of a century. It is time to stop the nonsense, refuse the developer’s application for a gated satellite suburban residential development and rezone the land to more appropriate land uses which reflects its history and geography and best economic use. And something must be done about the outstanding Land & Environment Court Orders over the land for remediation for damage caused by the developer in the 1990’s,’ he told The Echo.
‘The disappointing side of this is that Richmond Valley Council failed to bring to public attention the fact that the Iron Gates matter was being considered and that the community had to discover for itself that such a process was going on. Council has known about the developer’s application for amendment for some time yet there does not appear to be a single mention of it on Council’s website. The information which is available is two years old. This is a serious matter and reflects poorly on council’s transparency, something it continues to claim as a hallmark of its operations. There were 565 total submissions in three (3) separate notifications about the Iron Gates and yet council did not see fit to bring it to the public’s attention?’