Local, Politics

Huge number of opposing DA submissions has Council pleading for more time

COFFS Harbour City Council has been overwhelmed with the number of public submissions in response to their development application for the $76.5m Cultural and Civic Space.

By Janine Watson

(Reproduced in full from the Coffs Coast Advocate online – 22 January 2020.) See; https://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/council-calls-for-more-time-to-deal-with-hundreds-/3926779/

A whopping 874 submissions were submitted to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment who will ultimately be responsible for approving or denying the application.

Council was given ta deadline of January 20 to respond to the submissions in relation to their development application for the Cultural and Civic Space.

Council was given the deadline of January 20 to respond to the submission but this week contacted the Department requesting extra time.

In his eight years as a Planning Officer Rodger Roppolo says this project is a stand out.

“It’s probably the most contentious project I’ve worked on given the amount of objections received,” Mr Roppolo said.

The vast majority of submissions were against the Gordon St proposal which will include a library, art gallery, public spaces, a café and council offices.

TEMPERS FLARE: Councillors took the unusual step of meeting at Coffs Central in July to speak with residents about the proposal.
TEMPERS FLARE: Councillors took the unusual step of meeting at Coffs Central in July to speak with residents about the proposal.

The proposal has divided councillors four:four on a number of occasions with Mayor Denise Knight using her deciding vote to progress the project although she has recently declined to do this, saying a tied vote means the motion is lost based on their code of conduct.

There have also been claims of political interference from former Nationals Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser who has been a vocal critic of the project.

VOCAL CRITIC: Andrew Fraser chairing a meeting at Norm Jordan Pavilion in July last year.
VOCAL CRITIC: Andrew Fraser chairing a meeting at Norm Jordan Pavilion in July last year.

These claims stemmed from a freedom of information request, under what’s now known as the Government Information Public Access (GIPA) Act, which revealed the project was recommended for $9m in funding from the State Government’s Regional Cultural Fund. An independent panel ranked it 16th in a list of over 150 projects.

Mr Fraser denies any political interference and has shown no signs of walking away from the issue.

“I’m not going to let this lie – I’m going to continue to fight against this waste of money when there are cheaper alternatives out there,” Mr Fraser said.

“I am no longer a State politician but I’m telling you as a citizen, that as far as I’m concerned this council’s as rotten as a chop.”

His was one of the 874 public submissions recently submitted to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Mr Roppolo was unable to put a timeframe on the approval process once Council’s response to submissions is received.

“It’s hard to stipulate a timeframe. We may need to request more information from the applicant – it all depends on what information comes back to us.”

———————–

(Reproduced in full from the Coffs Coast Advocate – 22 January 2020.) See; https://www.coffscoastadvocate.com.au/news/council-calls-for-more-time-to-deal-with-hundreds-/3926779/

8 Comments

  1. Peter Walduck

    The main objections are that Council offices are being included.

    How long will it be before council administration grows to such a degree that they will take over the entire building and then there will be a need to build new art galleries and cultural centres?

    Where are the costings for the existing Council Chambers to be renovated and upgraded? Where are the costings for the cultural and Civic Centre to be built at City Hill which was designated as a cultural and Civic Precinct when that property was purchased?

    This development does not allow for future expansion or include a performing arts area .

    This project should be called the “Denise Knight Memorial”.

  2. Council is delaying their response to our 874 objections claiming a overload on personnel, yet easily finds the recourses to put the CCS/Council Offices on super fast-forward!

    Prioritising of the workforce is the answer.

  3. Now is the time to support our 15,000 protest signatures and 874 objection submissions. We need to ask the Minister for Local Government Hon. Shelley Hancock MP for a PUBLIC INQUIRY, by writing to GPO Box 5341 SYDNEY NSW 2001.

    Editors note: Actually is is the Planning Minister, Rob Stokes who needs to be asked for this Gemini – not Minister Hancock in this instance.

  4. Our dysfunctional Council continues to ignore our requests to pause and consult. An act of civic defiance!

    It amounts to flying the high trapeze without a safety net and risking everything!

  5. Max Brinsmead

    It was reported elsewhere in the Advocate that the Mayor has decided that a tied vote is a lost vote i.e. that she will no longer use her casting vote as Chair to vote twice. This is in accord with long standing,democratic Westminster principles.

    It’s just a pity that she has taken so long to realize this.

    Perhaps it is time to test this out with a carefully crafted motion that will resolve some of the conflict over this project?

  6. Given the extraordinary negative public reaction to the project and intransigence of Council, there needs to be a large public representation to the Minister of Planning demanding a public hearing.
    Now is the time for our local member to step up for the local voters.

  7. Max: We are totally defeated by the fact that every motion for a pause and consultation will be lost! We need the Minister for Planning to act. A Public Hearing is our only immediate course of action this side of September.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*