Opening move to settle row

A COURT hearing into a controversial residential land development near Mullumbimby began in Byron Bay yesterday.

NSW Land and Environment Court Commissioner Robert Hussey visited the area to view the site of the Tallowood Ridge Estate, in an attempt to find agreement between the developer, Gains-play Pty, and the Byron Shire Council.

The commissioner and several council officers, as well as representatives of Gainsplay and some concerned local residents, spent much of the day at the site off Left Bank Road.

The council’s town planner, ecologist and environmental health adviser, along with the developer’s planner, Steve Connelly, of Lennox Head, were examining issues such as sewage disposal and environmental impact.

Council’s environment and planning manager, Ray Darney, said a sewerage system was the main obstacle to approval of the development application.

“Council is not satisfied that the developer has made adequate arrangements for sewage disposal,” Mr Darney said.

The developer needed to get a particular licence for the sewerage scheme from the state authority, but at this stage had failed to do so, he said.

Other issues included disagreement about a buffer zone between the existing residences and the new development.

It was important to retain the existing buffer from both an ecological and a landscaping point of view, Mr Darney said.

He also said that a road incorporated in the development was not in accordance with the Mullumbimby Development Consent Plan and was too close to neighbouring houses.

People in the community also wanted some clarity about the eventual size of the development, he said.

Only 31 blocks have been released for sale in phase one of the development, but current residents understand Tallowood proposes to have 240 lots, as part of a larger 400-lot subdivision.

Twenty-four of the 31 blocks in phase one have been sold, according to a local real estate agent.

Mr Darney also said he thought the matter had been taken to the court prematurely, and that the cost in both time and money could have been saved.

“This is a complex matter, with many unresolved issues,” he said.

“This is residential land and needs to be developed, and council has long supported development,” he said. But it needed to be done with some sensitivity to the landscape.

Council had been willing to mediate on the outstanding issues, he said.

“If the developer had supplied council with a little more information, and had shown a little more patience, we could have avoided this extra cost to the ratepayer.”

The Mullumbimby Creek Progress Association called for a full disclosure of the development, so that the ‘serious issues’ including traffic, flood mitigation, sewerage and threatened species habitat and contaminated land could be addressed.

The developers did not return Northern Star calls yesterday.

“If the developer had supplied council with a little more information and had shown a little more patience, we could have avoided this extra cost to the ratepayer.”



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