What decision could mean for ‘intentional’ rural community

A DEVELOPMENT application has not yet been considered, but a decision not to allow nearby road upgrades could hamper plans for an "intentional" community in Mount Burrell.

Billy Fitzgerald, a lawyer representing the proponents of the proposed Nightcap on Minjungbul multiple occupancy, said his clients first submitted a DA with Tweed Shire Council in November 2019.

"As is usual, certain requests for information were made by council," Mr Fitzgerald said.

"Those responses were submitted in May 2020.

"There has since been further correspondence between the community and council."

He said a further DA submission was imminent.

The council's director of planning and regulation, Vince Connell, said a DA was "yet to be lodged by the proponents" although there had been attempts for them to do so.

"Council is still awaiting further responses from the proponents in respect of various DA submission requirements, including owner's consent for all land parcels affected by this proposal," Mr Connell said.

"Land owner's consent is an essential requirement for the determination of any development application."

A formal request for landowner's consent to allow upgrades to the Kyogle Rd access points was sought by town planner Daniel Mulherin from PlanIt Consulting on behalf ofthe proponent company, NCV Enterprises.

According to a report that went before the council's September planning meeting, such consent would support the applicant's concept proposal for nine rural land sharing communities involving 393 dwellings.

In the report, the council's staff said the the proposed community would have three road access points and all would require safety upgrades if the development were to go ahead.

The council's staff put forward a recommendation that this consent be provided, but councillors refused it in a 4-3 decision after discussing the matter in confidential business.

Mr Fitzgerald said PlanIt had been engaged in work on the proposed community from November 2017.

"The community is also working with a number of other professional consultants on matters such as bushfire management, ecology, cultural heritage, economics and engineering," he said.

"Detailed reporting on these areas is effectively complete.

"This is a complex application and one that has taken considerable amount of time to compile with supporting studies having been ongoing for nearly three years."

Mr Fitzgerald said the area's "natural environment", "sustainable living opportunities" and "cultural connection" were keystones if what prospective members of the community desire.

"The fact this site also contains a zoned village opportunity and can bolster the development and emergence of a new rural township just makes this even more exciting," he said.

His clients have been fielding enquiries.

"For the past couple of years, there has consistently been a steady line of enquiry from prospective community members," he said.

But he said the "vast, vast majority" if those enquiries "have not advanced beyond the initial stages of enquiry".

He attributed this to recent criticism of the former community of Bhula Bhula.

Bhula Bhula was located on one of the properties encapsulated by the new proposal and was subject to action by the council after unauthorised dwellings were built.

A number of local residents, including one who bought into the failed Bhula Bhula project, have raised concerns about whether the Nightcap on Minjungbul will go through the proper planning procedures.

Mr Fitzgerald said such concerns are "entirely speculative" and "motivated by self-interest".

"Nightcap on Minjungbul is not Bhula Bhula," he said.

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