Major land release plan

BALLINA council is pushing ahead with plans to rezone hundreds of hectares of land at Cumbalum, following repeated directives from the NSW Department of Planning.

If approved, the two precincts would provide more than 3300 dwellings and could potentially house 9000 people.

It would be the biggest residential development in the shire over the next 30 years.

According to the council's strategic services group, Precinct A has the capacity to accommodate about 850 dwelling units and a population of 2300.

The much larger Precinct B is 473ha in total and could accommodate 2500 dwellings and 6700 people.

That is equivalent to the current population of Lennox Head.

Chris Pratt from Planning Solutions spoke at last week's council meeting on behalf of a landowner in Precinct B, saying the rezoning of the area was important "not just for the Ballina Shire, but for the North Coast and the state".

"Landcom has expressed an interesting in the potential ownership of the land," he said.

In a letter to the council last month, the Department of Planning and Infrastructure said proposals for both precincts had to be finalised by February 19 next year.

"As you are aware, the department has written to you on a number of occasions requesting that the planning proposals proceed to public exhibition as a matter of priority," the letter stated.

"In relation to the (council's) concerns raised regarding the time taken to progress these proposals, it is clear that council has adequate information concerning the planning proposals to proceed to public exhibition."

Councillors last week agreed to exhibit the rezoning of both precincts in the near future.

However several councillors, including Mayor Phillip Silver, had reservations about moving forward with the process so quickly.

"Once you go to public exhibition, the implication is that that is what you are going to do ... and I don't think we are ready for that yet," he said.

Cr Silver also had concerns about the "huge" infrastructure needs.

Councillor Jeff Johnson agreed, saying the council needed to be sure it was not going to put "unnecessary burdens" on ratepayers.

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