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Byron Shire
July 19, 2024

Land and Environment Court rejects large subdivision in Goonellabah

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Koala breeding habitat identified in orange. Image 2.2021.262.1 DA www.tracker.lismore.nsw.gov.au

The 197–203 lot, a staged subdivision at 226 Invercauld Road, Goonellabah, called Eastwood Estate, has been rejected by the Land and Environment Court (L&EC).

‘This is an amazing outcome, it is a credit that Lismore City Council (L&EC) councillors who twice voted to reject the development had their decision upheld by the court,’ Al Oshlack from the Indigenous Justice Advocacy Network told The Echo

The development application (DA) by McCloy Project Management ‘to create 203 new residential lots and a residual open space lot and associated ten new roads, bulk earthworks, essential services (water, sewer, power & telecommunications), stormwater management facilities, landscaping and environmental rehabilitation’ was rejected by L&EC on 14 July, 2023.

The 197–203 lot subdivision at 226 Invercauld Road, Goonellabah has been rejected by the Land and Environment Court. Image 2.2021.262.1 DA www.tracker.lismore.nsw.gov.au

The proposed site for the estate is a mix of R1 Residential and C3 Environmental Management zonings and is located adjacent to Gundurimba Creek. It contains koala food trees (KFT) and has had koalas, including breeding females, documented at the site. The threatened hairy-joint grass arthraxon hispidus was also identified on the site. 

The L&EC refused the DA on the grounds of: ‘1. the likely impacts of that development, including environmental impacts on both the natural and built environments. 2. the suitability of the site for the development. 3. the public interest.’

Threatened hairy-joint grass arthraxon hispidus. Photo Reece Taverner, https://bie.ala.org.au

McCloy Project Management then appealed the decision with the L&EC and throughout the process, McCloy provided amended plans and other documentation and finally complied with lots sizes under the Lismore Local Environment Plan (LEP).

‘The site on Invercauld Road is identified as being one of the most significant koala habitat areas in Lismore,’ said Mr Oshlack. 

‘The proposed development involved the virtual clearing of all the vegetation on the land. This included rare flora such as the scrub turpentine and hairy joint grass.

‘The developer failed to undertake a proper Aboriginal Cultural Heritage assessment on the site and in fact tried to downgrade previous registered sites along the boundary. The Court also found fundamental flaws in the environmental and planning assessment and rejected the development on these grounds as well.’

The 197–203 lot subdivision at 226 Invercauld Road, Goonellabah has been rejected by the Land and Environment Court. Image 2.2021.262.1 DA www.tracker.lismore.nsw.gov.au

Underfunded upgrade

There were several key areas of contention that included: the unfunded upgrade to the intersection of Invercauld Road and the Bruxner Highway; stormwater and flooding and; geotechnical issues relating to the infiltration pits close to teh C3 (environmental) lands and the risk of slop and stability issues. 

Lismore City Council put the position that the development would ‘likely have serious an d irreversible impacts on biodiversity’, that the DA did not ‘minimise impacts on biodiversity in relation to KFTs’ and that the development did not ‘provide suitable vehicular access’. 

Rejected

Ultimately Commissioner Chilcott agreed stating that ‘The Court could not be satisfied that the Applicant’s proposals for stormwater drainage were based on sound engineering analysis and whether they have avoided and minimised impacts on KFTs and koala habitat’.

The Commissioner also stated that, ‘The Court could not be satisfied… that the geotechnical impacts, particularly in relation to the C3 zoned lands, were acceptable’.

Finally the Commissioner stated that, ‘The Applicant’s subdivision design was not acceptable in relation to the amenity of future residents and could be improved through the provision of two parks’ rather than the one proposed.  

Developer to pay costs

The Commissioner then awarded costs against the developer in favour of L&EC. 

‘In handing down his judgement Commissioner Chilcott awarded costs to the Council to be paid by the developer,’ said Mr Oshlack.


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6 COMMENTS

  1. This is the classic example of the Echo breathlessly repeating the assertions of a person without troubling to actually check they are correct. Some of Mr Oshlacks comments are just plain wrong – especially ‘The proposed development involved the virtual clearing of all the vegetation on the land’, without mentioning that most of the site is a cleared paddock.

    • Sadly you don’t seem to understand ecosystems, and by calling it a “cleared paddock* you are being a massive hypocrite…
      “Breathlessly repeating assertions without troubling to actually check they are correct”.

      Open grassy forests are things, and this area in particular would be a federally listed EEC (endangered ecological community). So, really if you care about anything other than “hoomans” you’d be against the idea of developing the ridges around Lismore.

  2. People see ‘the environment’ or ‘reserves’ as bush, gum trees, shrubs, rivers etc. Grasslands are one of the most threatened ecosystems. Thinking that it’s ‘just a paddock’ is an understandable assumption, but it is an uninformed, wrong assumption. Believe it or not, but the ecologists denying the developement know what they are doing. The grasslands in reference clearly offers environmental value. Look at first image in this article from the EPA report.

  3. Clearly the alternative of people being drowned on the floodplain is more palatable. And why worry it doesn’t affect the decision makers in Sydney after all.

  4. A sensible decision from Lismore Council and verified by the Land and Environment Court.
    We need housing but not this way.
    The developers keep pushing. They do the same old thing- clear everything that gives a natural value and plonk in “cheek by jowl” housing. Maybe someone clever can come up with a new model?

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