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
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.