Ballina mayor Phillip Silver
Ballina mayor Phillip Silver

Underpass bypassed by govt

BALLINA mayor Phillip Silver says he has ‘little faith’ in the council’s relationship with the State Government after NSW Planning removed an ‘important’ condition of consent for the North Angels Beach Estate subdivision.

The approval means the developer, Chris Condon, no longer has to build an underpass on The Coast Road.

NSW Planning says a pedestrian crossing with traffic lights will be sufficient.

Deputy director-general, Richard Pearson, said the issue was considered very carefully.

“A signalised crossing will ensure the safe and efficient movement of pedestrians and cyclists across Angels Beach Drive from the subdivision and also importantly allow for disabled access,” he said.

“At the same time, it will avoid any potential impacts on local Aboriginal heritage.”

However, Cr Silver does not agree with the decision.

“We don’t put these conditions on frivolously,” he said.

“There is every chance that an underpass or an overpass will be needed in the future and now it will have to be funded by the ratepayers.

“We believe this was needed.

“We are not cowboys ... we don’t approve bad development applications and we don’t refuse good development applications.”

Cr Silver and the council’s regulatory services group manager, Rod Willis, said it was their understanding that they would be able to meet with senior staff from NSW Planning before a final decision was made about the Angels Beach underpass.

But they were not even aware that an approval to remove it had been issued until contacted by The Northern Star.

Cr Silver said he was extremely disappointed that the ‘council’s and the community’s view had been so unilaterally ignored’.

“Why would they (the State Government) treat us so poorly? I have little faith in the relationship,” he said.

But a spokesperson for the department denied that the council had been promised a meeting.

“While the council was closely consulted in regard to this proposal, a promise was never given by our assessments staff to make afinal notification to the councilimmediately before a decision was made,” the spokeswoman said.

“The council, as well as all interested parties, will now be notified in writing of the decision.”

Mr Willis said the council wanted a grade-separated crossing.

“That would be good and orderly forward planning because, over time, the population will increase, more people will be walking around and there will be more cars on The Coast Road,” he said.

“Traffic lights will mean more disruptions to the flow of traffic.”

Lennox Head-based planner Steve Connelly, speaking on behalf of Mr Condon, said he was pleased with the decision.

“An underpass would have been expensive and dangerous,” he said.

“The design that was approved for that underpass wasn’t like the other ones around Ballina.

“It had two black corners.

“A pedestrian crossing will be much better.”

Mr Willis admitted that police believed underpasses were dangerous, but said there was ‘no history of criminal activity in the other underpasses in the area’.

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