Richmond Valley Council Mayor Col Sullivan is happy with new LEP.
Richmond Valley Council Mayor Col Sullivan is happy with new LEP. Jay Cronan

Local govt defends LEP

A CONTROVERSIAL new local environmental plan for the Richmond Valley has been approved by the NSW Planning Department.

The document, which is the central planning instrument for the shire and administered by the Richmond Valley Council, is based on a template prepared by the State Government to which all councils must adhere.

According to the planning department the new document "has struck a balance between recognising the region's important heritage, while planning for the future by updating planning controls".

The plan, however, has had its critics.

Strong community opposition to the plan was expressed at a council meeting in April.

Criticisms included the maps on which the plan was based were out of date and that the imposition of environmental zones on rural properties would lead to future land-use conflict.

But according to acting council general manager Gary Murphy only minor changes were made to the plan following the community feedback.

He said properties were inspected and re-assessed in cases where environmental zonings were uncertain.

He also said some zones had been reclassified and some clauses within the document were restructured.

As well as imposing new planning controls, the document lists an additional 134 items to be of local heritage significance.

They include the Coraki War Memorial and the Evans Head Scout Hall.

Additional protection is also provided for the New Italy area.

New rural residential zones at Reardon's Lane, Swan Bay, have also been included in the document.

"Agricultural lands have been protected while a range of environmental zones have been applied to environmentally sensitive land in the valley to protect those areas from inappropriate future development," a planning department spokesman said.

"(And the plan) maintains the rural character of the area and manages growth by rationalising minimum lot sizes in rural areas."

Richmond Valley mayor Col Sullivan said the plan would not only contribute to environmental protection but it also underpins and complements council's economic development strategy.

The new plan will take affect from April 21.



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