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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

Third village for Alstonville Plateau?

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Ballina Shire Council. Photo David Lowe.

A proposal to assess the viability of a third village on the Alstonville Plateau was discussed at Ballina Shire Council’s last meeting.

Moved by Cr Phil Meehan with the support of Cr Rod Bruem, the idea was mooted to ‘address the current housing crisis and future housing needs’. Cr Meehan noted that there had last been significant public consultation and planning of sites around the year 2000, although Ballina Council eventually decided not to move forward with the concept.

He said that population growth in the area since then, and the 2022 floods, meant that floodplain areas could no longer be developed in the Northern Rivers, and other areas needed to be considered.

Ballina Cr. Jeff Johnson. Photo David Lowe.

Cr Jeff Johnson said that it was misleading to suggest that the current housing crisis could be addressed by beginning investigations of a new village on the plateau, which would take at least five years to amount to anything. He suggested increasing density in certain areas was a better approach.

Council staff confirmed to elected councillors that there was enough existing land available for urban development to last 20-30 years, depending on density and population growth.

Cr Rod Bruem suggested that ‘time moves pretty quickly’, which made ‘the possibility of something on the plateau look exceptionally attractive’.

Unworkable

Cr Eoin Johnston said the extensive infrastructure needed, and impacts on state significant farmland, made the idea unworkable, although it had long been discussed.

Cr Kiri Dicker said she was open to reconsidering past ideas, and supported the sentiment ‘that we all need to shoulder the burden of growth’ but the timing of the motion was odd, considering strategic urban growth areas had recently been approved, and staff had confirmed there was more than enough existing land supply.

‘Greenfield developments like this will do nothing to to address housing affordability,’ she said. ‘It’s like chasing a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; it will not reduce house prices. We know that supply and demand don’t work in a broken system.

‘We know that in greenfield developments the planning system enables developers to drip feed supply to the market, ensuring that demand always exceeds supply and prices are always kept high.’

Ballina Cr Simon Chate. Photo David Lowe.

Impractical

Alstonville-based Cr Simon Chate said there was a lot to unpack when thinking about looking at a third village on the plateau, seeing both pros and cons, but suggested the overwhelming costs made the idea impractical.

‘Another very serious consideration is the amount of state significant farmland that would be lost under the streets and concrete of a new village,’ he said.

‘We’re all aware that the soil on Alstonville plateau is some of the best soil on the planet. And that coupled with our generally crop friendly climate, makes this part of the world one of the most precious food growing areas in the country,’ said Cr Chate.

‘Simply wiping out many dozens or even hundreds of hectares of this food producing super soil needs very serious consideration.’

After more debate, the motion for a third village on Alstonville Plateau failed to find any support beyond Crs Meehan and Bruem, and lapsed.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. The only people in favour last time were the developers, builders and real estate agents. Amazing how certain councilors want to put it in an area where they won’t be affected at all. One medical practice now has a waiting time of 4-6 weeks to get an appointment. Allowing more housing development with no extra infrastucture and support is a hairbrained idea.

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