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February 1, 2023

North Lismore Plateau’s ‘Sleeping Lizard’ DA refused but what’s the future?

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North Lismore Plateau development. This cream/yellow section in the North is the focus of this opinion piece.

On Thursday 15 December, it took the four panellists on the Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP) less than half an hour, to unanimously decline the Development Application (DA) 5.2021.221.1 for the northern section of the North Lismore Plateau (NLP) also known as The Sleeping Lizard. Their overall reason? ‘Not in the public interest’. 

Allura Parklands, as the northern section will be called, is so far, the biggest housing development ever on the North Coast with 45 new roads, 100s of homes, infrastructure, and parks. The NRPPl was concerned that a development so large and complex, was missing detail and was not sequentially planned at all. Although there were only six speakers, plus the development company, Mackycorp, it was power-packed presentations with former Lismore Mayor Ros Irwin front and centre. 

I was the last speaker and am very pleased that others dealt with the topic in more detail as mine was more big picture – climate change and aboriginal heritage. There was a Dunoon Road resident, representing other locals, who was concerned about the traffic and stormwater impact; a well-known community person who said that we already have 500 homes that need relocation with nowhere to go; also two Boerrie Creek residents who already have landslips and water gushing down onto them from the Plateau. All speakers were against the development as it currently stands. 

In 2012, Lismore Council’s premise for developing the North Lismore Plateau was always based on the need for more housing. We badly needed affordable and flood safe homes right back then – many years before February’s catastrophic floods. Council produced the 2012 Landowner Planning Map. The planning was based on a predicted increase in population. The predicted increase didn’t happen. Now, all we have is uncertainty. 

The new Lismore Growth and Realignment Strategy represents a significant shift in re-imagining Lismore to facilitate potential growth and the relocation of homes and businesses to areas outside of anticipated future floods. To sum up, the Lismore Council’s response to the DA in question – quoted from their Assessment Report is, ‘The likely impacts of the development, including environmental impacts on both the natural and built environments and impact to aboriginal heritage are not acceptable in its current form. The application is not considered to be in the public interest and the application should be refused’.

The DA was lodged with Council on 5 May 2021 and has been protracted due to the scale of the development. The process had been halted by requests for additional information and differences of opinion around significant issues coupled with the changeover of applicant/developer – Riordan Pty Ltd handed over to Mackycorp – and changed assessing officer at Council. By the end of 2022, there were still outstanding unresolved issues. The DA was passed to the State Government as it will cost over $30 million. 

Back to the public meeting. Mackycorp took a couple of minutes to respond to the NRPPs questions. They asked for six months to complete the DA and to be able to respond to the Council’s requests. Almost immediately following questions from the NRPP, Mackycorp threatened to go to the Land and Environment Court with this matter. 

Now its up to Mackycorp. Will they present a new nuanced DA which responds to the need for affordable homes and relocations for our flood affected population? Will they take into account the significant Aboriginal heritage issues? Will they decide to take Lismore Council and our ratepayer funds to the Courts?


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