With a quickly approaching deadline to decide upon a planning proposal around a large rural to residential land subdivision near a dangerous intersection on the way into Mullum, councillors agreed unanimously on a motion that will see more clarity around its size.
During debate, Cr Peter Westheimer told the gallery the proposal would see the area become a ‘mini suburb’, including secondary dwellings and ‘more than 200 people’ living on the exclusive elevated large lots.
Yet the contentious traffic component, at the Mullumbimby Road/McAuleys Lane intersection, just over the hill approaching the town, remained uncertain, with councillors noting that ‘further safety considerations are to be addressed at the detailed design stage’.
During the submission period of the planning proposal, it emerged the traffic report the developer supplied was out of date and did not reflect current data. A crash in the area occurred on Wednesday night, apparently caused by a traffic backup from Saddle Road.
Cr Westheimer put the motion forward, and told the gallery he would ‘rather get it right at the pre-DA stage’ and said if approved, it would see, ‘a really large increase in numbers for those who use the Mullumbimby Road/McAuleys Lane intersection’.
‘The dangers have been completely underestimated, and are wrong in my opinion,’ he said.
He said, ‘we all want more housing’, yet warned this would change the Mullum landscape ‘from rural to suburban’.
‘The compromises might include a reduced speed limit, but that may ensure safety’. He also wanted bus stops to be included in the proposal for public transport.
During debate, Cr Duncan Dey introduced a roundabout option, despite staff saying it was unsafe to create roundabouts near the crest of a hill.
He acknowledged that was ‘a big undertaking’, and said, ‘That part of the road is a mess, and we have added traffic over the years without addressing the dangers’.
Cr Asren Pugh was also successful including ‘enough space on the verge to allow safe bike riding and safe pedestrian crossing from the north side of Mullumbimby Road to the southern side’.
The motion, as adopted, amends the exhibited Planning Proposal to ‘a maximum yield of 39 neighbourhood community title (CT) lots’; and maintains the ‘existing 40ha minimum lot size for the entire site’.
As for traffic management of Mullumbimby Road/McAuleys Lane intersection, the motion notes ‘that further safety considerations are to be addressed at the detailed design stage including: the safety and infrastructure of McAuleys Lane west of the property entrance; reducing the speed limit on Mullumbimby Road; a roundabout on Mullumbimby Road at the intersection of McAuleys Lane; enough space on the verge to allow safe bike riders and safe pedestrian crossing from the north side of Mullumbimby Road to the southern side; safe bus stops on each side of the road and enough space on the verge to allow safe bike riders; and ensuring safe pedestrian crossing from the north side of Mullumbimby Road to the southern side in the vicinity of the bus stop zone’.
The amended Planning Proposal and supporting information will now be forwarded to the NSW Department of Planning & Environment to request finalisation of the plan.
Cr Sarah Ndiaye said she wasn’t against the development as a whole, but was concerned that councillors were becoming ‘on the spot traffic engineers’.
‘I’ve seen this happen before – one example was [previous] councillors changing the speed limit on Ewingsdale Road into Byron’. She said with the best intentions, the problem was compounded.
‘Roundabouts are terrible for pedestrians – RMS will say no to it anyway,’ she said.
Another example of councillor interference with traffic that became problematic, said Cr Ndiaye, was creating two lanes into Byron, which ‘created traffic backed up to the highway’.