Another DA for Lot 156 – Here We Go Again!

Hastings Point Headland

And it’s hello again from us all at Save Hastings Point!

Recently, residents in Creek St & the North Star precinct have received letters in respect of a new Walter Elliott DA for Lot 156 by his construction company, Palm Lakes.

The new DA has been proposed despite Councillors voting on 6 November 2014 to send proposed planning amendments to the NSW Dept of Planning, in respect of both the Hastings Point DCP and Tweed LEP relating to Lot 156, which would largely defeat this DA.

Unfortunately, the proposed amendments required a few changes (particularly the drawing in of 75m buffers, which were granted in November) and were only sent to the Dept of Planning last week. The Dept of Planning is likely to greenlight exhibition of these amendments for our further submissions in a week or two.

We suspect Walter Elliott has proposed this DA knowing the proposed amendments are not favourable to him as they require a 75m buffer, blocks to be a minimum of 700m2, no/minimal fill and all water treatment, bushfire zones and roads be within the development footprint i.e. not in the 75m buffer. He has proposed 20 lots – approximately 1 or 2 less than his former DA in 2013.

The new development is still on fill and has largely the same problems that his former one did, although he has improved some aspects and obtained a different town planner and engineer/ecologist to present a similar project in a different light!

He has relied on old flood assessment reports, old flora/fauna reports, old groundwater reports, and old midge report to support a now different development.

We have once again consulted Max Winders of MWA Environmental to address flood/drainage issues and Australian Wetlands to report and address stormwater and environmental issues. We’ll be preparing a community submission like last time incorporating both their reports.

Below you’ll find a template for recommended submissions that community members should consider submitting. If you have time, it would be good if you wrote up your own using these as a guide. The public interest is an important consideration to this application and so every person’s objection is important and will be noted. We had 131 submissions last time which did have an impact, so if people can rally around and get as many submissions, and perhaps share on social media outlets too (we know a lot of community based Facebook groups have sprung up since our last time around), that would be a great help.

This development will impact the whole of Hastings Point given the adverse environmental impact it could cause.

Due date for submissions is close of business 8 May 2015 so please rally up!

Submissions Template

Tweed Shire Council
PO Box 816, Murwillumbah NSW 2484

Attention: General Manager/Joanne Kay
Email: joannekay@tweed.nsw.gov.au
tsc@tweed.nsw.gov.au

Dear Sir/Madam
Development Application 15/0201 – Lot 156, No. 40 Creek Street, Hastings Point

I object to the referenced DA on the following grounds:

Flooding & Drainage

Adverse impact on local drainage and flooding.

Inadequate flood impact assessment on regional and local flooding and drainage conditions.

Reliance on dated, inaccurate flood assessments/ modelling – particularly 2005 flood.

Failure to consider size of proposal and excessive pressure on rescue/evacuation services for local area with no emergency evacuation egress. It is excessive already.

Unacceptable cumulative impact of fill on the local community, ecology, local drainage, flooding, catchment conditions. Others will have to fill to detriment to those that can’t.

Environmental and Ecological

Adverse impact of storm water/drainage on the environment – estuary, flora and fauna.

Reliance on deficient and outdated flora and fauna surveys and groundwater investigations to determine real or cumulative impact on the receiving environment

Failure to properly consider the existing ecological and hydrological conditions to know what impact changed conditions will have in the future.

No assessment of sea level rise on ecology and hydrology – including saltmarsh.

No proper assessment of impact on endangered and protected species – including Koalas.

No recognition or provision for adequate environmental restoration, protection, planning and community consultation required by Hastings Point DCP.

Too big/too close to natural flora/fauna/ecology of the area. Disturbance impacts excessive.

Amenity, Character, Safety and Proposed Planning Amendments

Uncharacteristic with the low lying character of Creek St and adjoining properties.

Inconsistent with proposed planning amendments including a 75m buffer, 700 m2 blocks, all lots being within ringroad, 20 m buffer to vegetation on Eastern side, no/minimal fill.

No specific mosquito & biting midge assessment in respect of subject DA.

Adverse visual impact of houses in Creek St, too close to estuary and viewing from east.

Reliance on dated traffic assessments, failure to adequately consider traffic impact and pedestrian island, speed mitigation, construction impact and street character requirements including natural green verges for amenity, filtration and drainage requirements.

I authorise and support submissions for and on behalf of the Hastings Point community by O’Reilly Sever & Co, MWA Environmental and Australian Wetlands Consulting.

Name:
Address:
Date:

Planning Amendments

We’ll let you know when the new Proposed Planning Amendments come to exhibition, as we will want to put submissions in for that as well. The passing of the new amendments as law will be pivotal in having the final controls in all of Hastings Point to protect its character and environment everywhere.

These final planning amendments were left out of the Locality Plan process previously because Lot 156 DA was before the Department of Planning back in 2010-2012.

Tweed Shire Council – Ambushed on Ethics and a Whole Lot More

Why the Hastings Point development got the green light:

“The extent of non-compliance is not likely to contribute significantly over and above a fully-compliant development in regard to adverse affect on the amenity of the surrounding property occupants or the community in general.”

Tweed Link – 29/11/11

Tweed Echo Article 24th Nov. 2011             Tweed Echo Article 1st Dec. 2011                Letters to the Editor

 Is it a disclaimer, apology or explanation by Tweed Shire Council regarding its consent for an off-the-scale three-storey dwelling in Hastings Point?

Most development stuff-ups are defended by an unconvincing one-liner “but it meets the requirements of the development control plan”.

In this case, the construction neither meets the conditions of the DCP nor the community’s legitimate expectations that developments in their neighbourhood will comply with planning regimes.

Contrary to Tweed Council’s misleading claim, the extent of non-compliance of the project at 26a Tweed Coast Road is major having significant adverse impact on the character which the community’s DCP sought to save.

It is 9m three-storeys high when it should be 8m/ two-storeys; its rear setback is just 2.5m when it should be 8-metres; it is 32metres in overall length when it should be 20m with landscape breaks of 6m at the 20m mark. And it has no rear landscaping.

It’s so bizarre, rumour and conjecture is rife.  Residents’ heads are spinning.

Perhaps because it borders sand dunes, low-key vegetation and Crown Land, Tweed Shire Council, as trustees of Crown Land, have ‘loaned’ the proponents of the development some public property?

Maybe the Council thinks two rogue developments side by side don’t look as bad as one? That the cumulative fallout won’t be all that noticeable?

The reasoning chain is full of missing links.

A three-storey solid construct proposed for a landmark area of the locality designated as ecologically fragile and susceptible to high-density residential development surely loomed as a test case for the new locality plan.

Five years of community and urban consultation produced a DCP designed “to protect the ecological integrity of foreshore areas surrounding this part of the settlement – ensuring private uses do not creep into public land by replanting and buffering with native vegetation”.

This costly blueprint proposed ‘future buildings would be smaller, in broken down form, featuring lightweight materials and incorporating dense landscaping commensurate with a small coastal village’.

Yet, a project earmarked as controversial because it contravened all the above was sent to Council’s Building Services Unit, bypassing the team of expert planners who’d devised the controls it was breaching.

Assigning contentious development with critical residential and environmental outcomes to an area of Council not often familiar with community consultation projects and most often staffed by part-time contracted personnel, surely was a mistake or gamble.

Unsurprisingly, approval for a terrain defiant three-storey, unremitting, ocean-front construct, a metre too high, twelve metres too long and 5.5 metres closer to eroding escarpment above the sand dunes and alongside Crown Land, hit desks in Council’s executive offices.

Rammed against its rogue twin next door, the cumulative impact of these two mega-type dwellings created just what the DCP was designed to prevent – a conga line of towering constructs looming above sand dunes and natural low-key vegetation.

In frenzied turmoil a series of eleventh hour crisis talks were convened to appease a community livid with a Council that had dumped its linchpin to intelligent coastal design.

Council meetings were deferred and workshops held to ensure baffled councillors were up to speed on how this unworthy development could be justified.

But at no time did the Council permit the public or Councillors to seek advice or explanation from its crack team of planners – those who were fully apprised of the workings and rationale of the DCP.

The Director of Planning made it clear – the buck stopped with him – he and the BSU officer who approved the development comprised the knowledge bank.

Now and then wheels fall off in every administration. But this year the degree of bureaucratic bungling out of Tweed Shire Council has reached epic proportion.

Leaked documents and emails; residents threatened by legal action; an 80-year-old retiree told to ‘get a job’ by a gaffe-prone councillor and a GM ordering locals to remove blog content because it offended him.

More alarming is the litany of specific and unreasonable lapses in procedural compliance, failures to give proper advice and notice and the degree of incorrect and ambiguous opinion being offered regarding not just 26a Tweed Coast Road, but a number of other planning projects in Hastings Point.

And if it’s happening as often as it does in Hastings Point you can bet these breakdowns in procedural administration are blanketing the Shire. Our records show:

  • Without notice Council allowed in-fill of suburban blocks of land ear-marked as flood prone in a designated flood-prone community without assessment of water flow.
  • A lone multi-level dwelling was hastily erected on land still to be determined by State Department authorities as suitable for a proposed residential and tourist sub-division.
  • Key stakeholders weren’t notified of changes to proposed developments including those who made submissions on original development applications.
  • That these amended plans were omitted from council reports.
  • And the same amendments were not posted on the Council website.

Cutting edge construction and planning might be going gangbusters within Australia’s coastal and estuarine communities but in Tweed Shire it’s seemingly about cutting corners.  Councils without principles are green lights for developers with the same mindset.

The Cloud over TSC’s Delegation of Planning Responsibilities

Probity

Procedure

Integrity

 

Tweed Shire Council’s handling of planning responsibilities in Hastings Point is again in disarray following a series of gaffes on key development projects.

To improve business efficiency, most Councils are permitted by law to delegate their minor planning projects to officers in a Building Services Unit (BSU), leaving mainstream Council planners to manage major developments.

Allocating complex and contentious plans to an adjunct planning department has inherent risks, and the fallout can have widespread community repercussions.

In recent years, no less than three developments in Hastings Point have been dealt with by the Council’s Building Services Unit having important implications – all poorly administered with officers failing to alert residents of major and controversial changes affecting their amenity, health and safety.

  1. No notice to residents of application/approval of a house on lot 156, despite the fact that a large subdivision application was in the hands of the Department of Planning in Sydney – TSC planners not aware.
  2. No notice to residents of application/approval of filling of blocks in Creek Street despite flooding and fill being a major issue for the area discussed with TSC planners– TSC planners not aware.
  3. No notice to residents of amended plans of large non-compliant 3 storey building at 26 Coast Road (including the resident’s association and representative lawyer of community/neighbour) despite them making submissions to original proposal.

On Tuesday this week, the BSU provides Council with a totally flawed report not supported by TSC planners proposing the development of a ‘substantial three-storey dwelling’ at 26 Tweed Coast Road.

The report was compiled by an officer within the BSU and detailed analysis shows a range of erroneous detail and omissions relating to height, length, setback, scale, landscaping and character. It is a misleading document that claims there are just two minor deviations from the Hastings Point Locality Plan, when in fact there are more than six major deviations.

They are:

  1.          1m height breach – 9m, 3 storey instead of 8 m 2 storey
  2.          5.5 m setback breach – 2.5 m from beach dune instead of 8 m
  3.          12m breach in length – 32 m instead of 20m – no consideration
  4.          No rear deep landscaping because breach of rear setback
  5.          No mid landscaping because breach in length/no building break
  6.          No consideration of desired future character
  7.          No consideration of required changes in roof modulation

Had the BSU officer initially declared these salient facts to planning administrators, the report would likely never have seen the light of day.

Had Council’s planning administrators carried out timely circumspect consideration of the officer’s dodgy figures and facts, they would not have been forced to defend the Council’s planning integrity.

The proposed building would have been deemed non-compliant, hopelessly over scale and ripe with potential to reinforce the precedent of the rogue construction beside it.

The officer fails to advise that in addition to the neighbouring rogue on which he relies to create a new transitional character for Hastings Point, there are two other similar rogues (one built and one ready for construction) in this area whose neighbours could run his same argument.  This would result in 6 further seriously non-compliant buildings that would destroy the character of this small and visually sensitive location.

Therefore, the officer’s claim that approving this development would not have an unacceptable cumulative impact is unrealistic and naïve to say the least.

He seems oblivious to the history of a locality that for years has engaged in Land and Environment litigation on this very point and rigorous debate and consultation with Council over unseemly and excessive residential construction.  He omits consideration of the desired future character objectives of this precinct.

Needless to say the ‘elephant in the room’ is Tweed Shire Council’s long term struggle with planning probity.

While ever Councillors and administrators rely on inaccurate staffing advice like this, the potential for optimum outcomes is hopeless.

That Cr Polglase carefully  referred to this as a restoration project when it’s closer to a total demolition and rebuild, leaves a community wondering whether he is intentionally misleading his fellow councillors and the public or just as confused as the BSU.  Certainly, the old culture of this Council still lingers.

Defending and obscuring sloppy work isn’t corporate loyalty, it’s a management failure set to steer the Shire towards another independent inquiry.

The people of Tweed Shire deserve strong management and expertise – where our leaders are courageous enough to correct and address mistakes like this.  We trust this will occur.

This is about Procedure and Integrity – a five year costly procedure between community and council to develop a locality plan touted by planners as one of the best – one that must be respected, upheld and consistently applied.

If it is not, we march backwards to a time of community in arms – with all the ugly, needless  conflict and acrimony this presents.

 

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