Industrial estate zoning was under question at Tweed Council’s planning meeting on 4 August as councillors endorsed the development application (DA21/0884) for an ‘artisan food and drink industry including craft brewery, retail area and restaurant’ at Industry Drive Tweed Heads South, against the staff recommendation.
The staff recommendation for refusal, based on their advice that the application did not meet the zoning criteria, was not supported by the councillors.
Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent) highlighted the issue of ensuring that there are industrial areas available for traditional industrial activities, which may be noisy. Whilst a DA for the artisanal food and drink production is allowable within the ‘industrial’ zoning, the ancillary restaurant in the DA raised the question of compatibility with neighbouring existing industrial uses.
‘I have in-principle support for the proposal. Reading the report I understand what the officers are trying to do in terms of protecting the uses of that zone and trying to make sure that we still do have a place for repair car yards and tyre changing places and things that need to have a place,’ she told the planning meeting.
‘I think this question of permissibility has come down to whether the restaurant is ancillary to the primary use of beer brewing. Whether it is a secondary use, whether it is an independent use. Obviously, we’ve had legal advice from proponent, and our own legal advice and there is certainly a position that supports either way in this question of interpretation and it is a very difficult one. It is certainly the size of the restaurant part of it that is creating the main issue. I am hoping that there can be, during the negotiation of the conditions of consent, there can be some consideration for whether there is an ability they reduce the size so that it can be clear cut that one use is ancillary to the other. That will be left with staff to talk with the proponent on that. I do support this option.’
E3 zoning objections?
However, Cr Cherry made it clear that with the new E3 state government zonings coming in the councillors needed to look at whether this type of development was a threat to industrial estate zonings. Whether this type of development would be forcing out businesses that rely on these zonings and the protection they provide in allowing noisy, industrial activity.
‘It is a very difficult situation that we are in because we do have the state government zonings coming in. The E3 zonings that will allow food and drink premises in this zoning as I understand it. As the speaker rightly pointed out we haven’t put in an objection to that at this point. We need to think about whether we want to put in an objection to that going forward. And if that is truly that we believe is it something that is going to threaten the viability of this zoning for the business that need this industrial land,’ she said.
‘I think it is important to think about. This proposal, to me, does appear to fit the artisan food and drink industry. I think, on this question of interpretation, it is appropriate in this zoning. I am hoping that we are not making a mistake in that way.’
Councillors Warren Polglase (Conservative), Dr Noala Firth (Greens) and Reece Byrnes (Labor) all spoke in favour of the ‘in principle support’ of the DA.
‘I’m quite familiar with the area. It is interesting that not 20m away you have restaurants that have liquor licences, you got a brothel, you’ve got several other things around in this area that you would think wouldn’t be deemed to be in an industrial area,’ said Cr Byrnes.
‘So I think it is a good opportunity to change the area around a bit. I think it is great. It might need a bit of tinkering or tweaking around the edges, but full support from me.’
Councillor Firth sought to have plant-based artificial grass included in the conditions to reduce the impact of microplastics which was accepted by Cr Polglase who put the motion for approval of the DA after a quip about electric mowers.
‘I think it is a great idea for the Tweed,’ Cr Polgalse enthused.
‘I think it will create a lot of interest in where it is and what it does. It supports tourism, creates a lot of jobs.’
Meeting council’s legal advice
Tweed Council’s general manager Troy Green spoke to the meeting pointing out that ‘If this gets up by council… You’ve got your advice, we’ve got ours. If we are to bring something back that gives in principle we’ve got to try to and meet our advice as well. So that relates back to the ancillary nature and the size and scale of the restaurant.’
The question remains around the definition of what constitutes an artisan food and drink industry and the fact that the current proposal appears to have a restaurant that is larger in scale and size than the zoning allows.
‘That definition of artisan food and drink industry hasn’t been tested in the courts so it is a question of interpretation so I hope we can come to a compromise,’ said Cr Cherry.
♦ Tweed Shire Council will be having their Ordinary Council Meeting this afternoon at 3.30pm. You can register to watch online here.