Theres a change in the air

By Alex Easton

NORTHERN Rivers communities may have to reconsider their opposition to high-rise development if they want to protect the region's environment in the face of a population boom, according to former Ballina councillor Sue Dakin.

Ballina councillors, including mayor Phillip Silver, have expressed concern at a State Government decision to allow a six-storey building in the town, breaching the Ballina CBD's building height limit of five storeys.

Cr Silver, along with other councillors, said he believed the decision by NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor created a precedent which would ultimately push up building heights.

Mr Sartor's decision comes as the Ballina Chamber of Commerce pushes for substantial increases in building heights up to nine storeys and in the wake of the Government's Far North Coast regional strategy, which predicts 26 per cent growth across the region over the next 25 years, and tags Ballina as a major population centre.

And, given that growth, Sue Dakin said there may be no way for the region but up.

"If you're talking about the pressure on the environment and finding ways to make best use of the damage that's already been done, then someone has to make that decision," Ms Dakin said.

While not advocating Gold Coast-style development, increased density, including higher buildings, was a way of preventing urban sprawl.

Ms Dakin defended the role of Mr Sartor in taking control of such developments, saying councils were often 'not strong enough' to make such politically tough decisions.



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