Green light for $45 million Lismore plateau estate
IT'S been talked about for more than 20 years - but now the first ever development application for a residential estate on the North Lismore Plateau has actually been approved.
Last night the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel conditionally approved Winten Property Group's proposal for a 433-lot estate off Sexton Rd, North Lismore.
Despite heated opposition from several speakers - one of whom's behaviour forced JRRP chair Garry West to close the meeting to the public - the JRRP elected to green light the $45 million development, which has been nine years in the making.
"The panel tonight resolved to approve the subdivision application," Mr West announced afterwards.
"We were very sympathetic to the issues that were raised by all of the interested parties tonight. But clearly this is a matter that's been planned, rezoned, and been in the backlog for 20 years.
"Council's been doing a lot of work to get to this stage."
"The panel just can't turn that on its head."
The only condition imposed by the panel was that the approval one of the three precincts in the concept plan, where 43 lots are proposed, will be subject to a future Aboriginal heritage application and threatened species assessment.
The remaining 390 lots can proceed as soon as the developer obtains a construction certificate.
"I think what we've done is we've modified it to be respectful of what the community has to say, (and) we've modified it to be respectful of the subdivision going ahead," Mr West said.
The public submissions made to the panel during the meeting were largely from opponents of the development, with concerns over the preservation of the Aboriginal heritage of the area, the development's impact on threatened species, potential visual pollution and landslips impacting nearby rural residents, runoff concerns impacting flood prone North Lismore, and the cost to council ratepayers of linking sewerage and water mains to the new estate.
Local Bundjalung elder Mickey Ryan, a long-term opponent of the plateau development, said public consultation process was "inadequate" and he felt he was "never listened to" by Lismore City Council.
Mr Ryan claimed Aboriginal artefacts on the site were "forever at risk" from the development.
"There's plenty of other mountains around Lismore City Council could develop if they wish," he said.
The views put forward by Mr Ryan and fellow opponents were quite different those of the Aboriginal heritage consultant contracted to assess the site for the developer.
Aboriginal heritage consultant Tim Roberts, one of four consultants who assessed the site, told the meeting his study found Aboriginal people passed through the area but there was "no evidence" of a "focal point of occupation".
He also said the "general feeling" from members of the Registered Aboriginal Parties, with the exception of Mr Ryan, "wanted to do something positive with the site" within the context of the new estate.
Outspoken opponent Al Oshlack made a lengthy public submission which alongside environmental and Aboriginal concerns focused on Lismore City Council's borrowing what he claimed was "$32 million" to link the development with water and sewerage mains and build a reservoir.
He said it was a lot of money for a "cash strapped" council to borrow, and ratepayers would bear the burden.
While developer contributions would cover some of the debt over time, he said the rest of the money would come from rate increases.
This concern was echoed by other speakers.
The council has previously approved spending $24 million to link waste water and water mains to the plateau.
Speaking on behalf of the project, development manager Jim Punch said Winten had "confirmed its committment to Lismore" through its patience with the rezoning and planning process, which had been ongoing for nine years.
He said the project "couldn't be in better hands" than with Winten, who had 46 years' experience developing new residential communities.