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June 24, 2024

Eco-tourist facility refused at Sleepy Hollow as councillors try to clear DAs

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A DA for five cabins and an eco-tourist resort at 84 Sleepy Hollow Road, Sleepy Hollow was refused at the Tweed Council planning meeting (5 October, 2023). Image Google maps

A proposed eco-tourist facility with five cabins at Sleepy Hollow was refused by Tweed Shire councillors last week (5 October) following the mayor’s attempt to defer the decision. 

Tweed Mayor, Chris Cherry (Independent), moved an amendment to the motion to ‘refuse’ the development application and instead sought a ‘deferral’. This was seconded by councillor Dr Nola Firth (Greens). 

‘The amendment is to defer the item [is] to allow time for the applicant to provide further information that responds to the report [and to] previous RFIs (Request for Further Information) from our staff,’ explained Cr Cherry. 

Cr Cherry highlighted that there are often areas of grey in planning as there are in law and that this is a subjective interpretation of whether it meets both the definition and the requirements under clause 5.13 In our LEP (Local Environment Plan).

This proposal is located adjacent to an area that does contain an area of special ecological significance. So I think that’s the test. I think it does have a minimal impact on the environment. I think it’s a very small footprint and we’re talking about locating cabins in an area that has previously been a cattle grazing area and is a completely cleared area, said Cr Cherry.

We’re not going not talking about putting cabins up in the middle of a rainforest or having large access tracts that need to cut asset protection zones all through these forests. So I think in terms of the proposal, if this one doesn’t meet the definition [for eco-tourism in LEP] then I honestly don’t know what does.

When I look at previously approved eco-tourist facilities in our Shire they’re not so not so different to the one that’s being proposed here today. So I would like to give the proponent an opportunity to provide more information.

The amendment also asked staff to provide a report that would have attached the ‘potential conditions of consent’.  

Tweed Councillor Rhiannon Brinsmead. Photo Aslan Shand.

Backlog of DAs

Speaking to the amendment Councillor Rhiannon Brinsmead (Liberal) said she would not support it as this was the second time that a deferral was being sought for this DA. 

‘I can’t think of another instance where we have actually afforded a proponent, not one but two deferrals. I was supportive of the first deferral to give the applicant more time to come back. I don’t support two.’

Cr Brinsmead highlighted the backlog of DAs that Tweed Council, like many others, is struggling to process.

‘It is [also] about the DA backlog and I think that as the elected body we agreed that we would play our role in helping to reduce that,’ she reminded the meeting. 

‘These deficient DAs that remain in the system and take up staff time, they counterproductive to what we agreed to do. [This is] a deficient DA in what they’re proposing. I am by no means against what they’re proposing. But I think the staff’s report on this has not really changed between the first and second instance that it’s come back. I suspect it may not change much the third time around.’

Tweed Shire Councillor Chris Cherry. Photo Aslan Shand.

Both Councillor Warren Polglase (Conservative) and fellow Liberal councillor James Owen were also in agreement. 

Cr Owen said he felt councillors were ‘micromanaging’ the DA process and that councillors should leave more of the DAs to be approved by staff under delegation. However, this point was rejected by the mayor who pointed out that approximately 94 per cent of DAs were already approved or refused under delegated authority by Council staff. 

Firth votes against own amendment

Having listened to the arguments put forward against the amendment the Cr Firth had seconded she decided to vote against it. 

‘I am actually convinced by some of the arguments that have come today, and I won’t be voting for the amendment,’ she said.

The amendment was lost with only Cr Cherry voting in favour. The motion to refuse the DA was then approved with only Cr Cherry voting against.

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  1. Let people make a living in these hard times ..it astounds me all the red tape some have 2 jump through. And others don’t creat6a level playing field 4 all and unite

    • You speak cliche very well. One thing though, hoops we jump through, tape is usually jumped over. A little thing I know but if you want to be taken seriously…


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