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Byron Shire
September 26, 2023

Council defers decision on controversial Tweed Heads DA

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Clearing at 60 Tringa Street, South Tweed Heads. Image Tweed Council agenda

The controversial clearing of the 60 Tringa Street development site in Tweed Heads was once again back before Tweed Shire Council (TSC) last night where they were seeking to ‘modify the current consent’.

The developer MAAS is seeking a ‘modification’ to the development application (DA) to ‘shift the subdivision development area north… [and] relocate the permanent access from the southern boundary to the northern boundary of subdivision’. As part of the original approval in 1996 the developer was required to purchase council land for a dedicated road, which they did in 2000, however, they have never built the road on the southern boundary. In May 2019 Tweed councillors sought ‘detailed specifics of the access road…’ but this was never provided. 

Prior to MAAS clearing the site on Triga street, on the tidal estuary of Cobaki Creek.

Dubbo-based developer MAAS purchased 27-year-old legacy/zombie DA site, that has  approval for a 37-lot subdivision on the flood prone land, last year. In March and April they illegally accessed the site via Tringa Street and cleared it; including vegetation communities listed under Federal and State legislation as Endangered Ecological Communities that were subject of development consent approval conditions. 

Developmetn site at 60 Tringa Street,
Tweed Heads.

Multiple breaches of DA

Local residents have been detailing the history to councillors and staff of the development highlighting a range of breaches of the Tringa Street DA and other unlawful activities. 

‘To date the former developer got off scot-free with the unlawful access from Tringa St. In 2003, in a desperate attempt to stop the lapsing of the consent, the majority of Crs approved a retrospective amendment to allow the completion of those works,’ explained  Lindy Smith, president of the Tweed District Residents and Ratepayers Association.

‘The current developer has got off scot-free again for the unlawful access from Tringa St along with significant other breaches of the current development consent.’ Ms Smith told The Echo

‘On securing a permit and approval from the State Government they barged in the via the unlawful access from Tringa St and moon-scaped the subject site under a plan that is substantially different [from the approved DA] and not approved.’

Cleared flood prone development site at 60 Tringa Street, Tweed Heads. MAAS Holdingd continued to clear the site for another three weeks after these photos were taken. Photo supplied

Legal advice

Following site visits and further information, the Tweed councillors decided last night that they would defer the decision on the ‘modifications’ and seek further legal advice. 

‘There’s been a lot of toing and froing on this report… and there’s a lot of legal questions at this point about how to move forward,’ said Mayor Chris Cherry when she spoke about deferring the decision.

Councillor, Dr Nola Firth, agreed highlighting that information on the DA had still been coming in that day. 

The councillors decided that a meeting between council staff, councillor and councils legal service providers was necessary before they could make a decision on the proposed modification. 

Cleared flood prone development site at 60 Tringa Street, Tweed Heads. MAAS Holdingd continued to clear the site for another three weeks after these photos were taken. Photo supplied

Substantially different DA

‘Councillors are to be commended for their resolution on this matter yesterday,’ said Ms Smith. 

‘It is unconscionable for councillors to be expected to make decisions without proper and full information. The subject “amendment application” was seriously flawed, and included a site plan that is not the approved plan. Then the matter became so much more serious with revelations in a report, that was taken out of confidential and moved into open Council.’

Ms Smith detailed a number of issues from the report including the failure of the developer to provide an Acid Sulfate Management Plan, the removal of wetland communities that were required to be retained and the possibility that the council is ‘knowingly facilitating pre-emptive development’ by approving the temporary road construction access ‘which is substantially different for which the consent was originally granted,’ explained Ms Smith. 

‘I am very mindful of the matter of the Urliup water mining operation where it was insisted it was not a substantially different development. The court found it to be otherwise and the water mining operator lost their appeal.

‘Any amendment being sort must be considered under today’s information and risk expectations. Further, there are zero provisions under the current development consent to manage serious and significant issues.’

The amendment is likely to come back to the September or October Council or planning meeting.

Cleared flood prone development site at 60 Tringa Street, Tweed Heads. MAAS Holdingd continued to clear the site for another three weeks after these photos were taken. Photo supplied

Federal Environment Protection Agency

It was also noted at the beginning in accepting the Schedule of Outstanding Resolutions that the TSC had put in a request to the Federal Environment Protection Agency to investigate the significant tree clearing at 60 Tringa St. Council is awaiting their advice.

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  1. Past time all ‘zombie’ development approvals were cancelled, and this type of environmental delinquency was dealt with to the full extent of the law.
    Thanks to TSC for trying to keep these greedy and destructive developers at least within the boundaries of what has previously been approved, appalling as it is that flood prone land was approved for housing back in the dark days.


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