It appears as a development application (DA) for a ‘food and drink premises (pub) including associated bottle shop, drive-thru’ but as usual the devil is in the detail.
The detail of this particular DA (DA20/1033) relates to not only the inclusion of TAB and gaming rooms that would remain open until 4am but also its location. The site at 14 Fraser Drive, Tweed Heads South has ‘a caravan park to the east and manufactured home estate to the south currently under construction’ along with a number of ‘vulnerable groups’ living in the area.
Councillors Pryce Allsop and Warren Polglase (Conservative) were quick to move the staff recommendation to pass the development.
‘Essentially what they are trying to do there isn’t to re-invent the wheel. There was a similar place there previously,’ said Cr Allsop.
‘It’s on the water.. and will create a place for people to go and relax. What they are trying to promote is a similar to others in the region. Most of their developments are of a good standard in most of the regions. They have seemed to take on the advice from council staff.’
However, Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) raised concerns over the late opening hours and the gambling facilities proposed, particularly with the number of vulnerable socioeconomic groups living in the area.
‘I do have some concerns that have been raised by the [Council’s] community services unit (CSU) with regards to the lack of appropriate assessment of the socioeconomic impacts with caravan parks and a manufactured home estate [nearby].
‘I think it is important that we do look at that social impact, particularly in terms of that social impact and particularly in having opening hours to 4am for TAB and gaming rooms I feel is excessive. Particularly in this residential setting it’s not something that is very positive for social cohesion and it is hard to see the public interest in having them open until 4am… A hundred people who are leaving in their cars between midnight and 4am would also have a lot of noise impact. I have considerable concerns.’
The CSU had raised concerns over the socioeconomic impact of the development and ‘the applicant was requested [by the CSU] to provide further information and a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) to address these concerns.’
However, the CSU said that the response from the applicant was not adequate and further details were requested but not provided.
Milne in favour – but…
Councillor Katie Milne (Greens) said that she was ‘100 per cent in favour of the development’ but that she was ‘concerned that the social impact assessment wasn’t completed. It’s not often that we hear from or require a community impact statement,’ she said.
‘The proposed gaming till 4am is a red flag’ in a location that has low socioeconomic groups with a ‘number of caravan parks and vulnerable Aboriginal people in the area’.
‘I don’t know of another hotel in the shire that is allowed to be open till 4am, let alone where there are such vulnerable community members. We need to put the needs of our community first. I think we defer this for further information.’
Cr Milne also raised concerns over the ‘vast expanse’ of the proposed carpark and its impact on the heat island effect and water quality as well as the lack of permeable paving in an ‘environmentally sensitive’ area. The use of AstroTurf was questioned and she reminded other councillors that AstroTurf ‘has been identified as quite toxic to people and the environment as it breaks down. I think there could be other options presented.’
Cr Milne put an alternative motion to defer the decision and that council seek further response from the applicant regarding the concerns over the socioeconomic impact of the develop by the CSU.
Cr Allsop argued against the seeking alternatives to permeable paving and seeking alternatives for AstroTurf, as he believed they were potentially more costly and the long term wear and tear couldn’t be guaranteed.
Cr Milne responded saying that, ‘The main point for me is the issue about the social impact assessment and our advice from staff was that it wasn’t adequate. I do feel that as councillors it is our responsibility to actually uphold our development controls, that is one of our Tweed DCP controls that they do do a social impact assessment… they should have been able to follow the guidelines in the DCP to be able to achieve that.’
Cr Milne’s amendment to defer the decision and request further information on the socioeconomic impacts, opportunities to reduce the urban heat island effects, Options to substitute the proposed AstroTurf and to enhance the environmental outcomes for the lake became the motion and was passed with councillors Allsop and Polglase voting against.