TRRA Update, September 2022
TRRA has made several submissions to Port Stephens Council since June:
- On a revised ‘Planning matters to be reported to Council’ Policy, arguing for more transparency, and supporting a change from 3 to 2 Councillors needed to ‘call-up’ matters for decision by Council in public rather than by staff behind closed doors.
- On a new Communications and Engagement Strategy, again making a case for greater transparency, including better public notice of more Development Applications and Planning Proposals (for re-zoning etc.)
- On a revised Code of Meeting Practice, supporting changes suggested by Councillors Anderson and Arnott to increase transparency and accountability. These changes were adopted by Council on 13 September. Changes included:
- Webcasting public access sessions that precede some Council meetings, where the presenter consents.
- A few extra days notice of Council agendas, which will allow for more analysis and consultation.
- Recording of all votes in Council, so that the community can see which way their elected representatives have voted.
TRRA met with Council officers about the current ‘Our Funded Future’ consultation concerning the need for a significant rate rise from next year. TRRA is pleased with the approach Council is taking this time round, clearly explaining the financial situation and putting forward various options for community feedback. The website includes a useful ‘calculator’ which allows individual households to see what the various options would mean for them in $ terms. An online survey was open, and submissions invited, until 8 August.
The Council meeting on 23 August reported on the initial consultation during July. Most alternative ideas put forward are not ‘available’ to Council, and they refute suggestions that Council could cut costs significantly – they claim cost profile is comparable with similar Councils, while rates are significantly lower. Views/priorities expressed during consultation are contradictory.
There was general disappointment at the poor level of feedback, and discussion of various ways of reaching more people, including changing the ‘badging’ from ‘Our Future Funding’. There will now be a further round of consultation (Phase 2) on 3 shortlisted rate rise options:
- 2.5% rate cap only, no SRV
- 10.5% pa SRV for 3 yrs (option recommended by experts + most popular to date)
- 26% one-off SRV next year
The next stage was approved (9 to 1) by Councillors on 23 August – Councillor Arnott remains resolutely opposed to any rate rise and is unwilling to support any further consultation on options.
The Council meeting on 26 July authorised extension of the paid ‘smart’ parking program in Nelson Bay (Laman St), Fly Point, Little Beach and Shoal Bay, and investigation of further extension to Birubi Headland, Anna Bay, One Mile and Fingal Bay. Parking will remain free for residents and ratepayers, and revenue will continue to be dedicated to public works within the precincts in which it is raised.
Council will consult further on the Laman St and is consulting local businesses on 24 August on the overall parking situation in Nelson Bay. The temporary car park at the corner of Yacaaba and Donald Sts will close at the end of August – presumably for the construction of the approved 10 storey apartment building on the site.
TRRA made submissions on:
- A planning proposal for rezoning of farmland at 610 Seaham Road, Nelson Plains to allow 38 large residential lots. TRRA has supported the VOWW group, neighbours, farmers and some State agencies in opposing this as an unsuitable location for housing. Councillors decided 9 to 1 on 23 August not to proceed with this Proposal – only the Mayor supported the staff recommendation to seek an extension from the Dept of Planning to allow further work on it.
- TRRA has objected to a DA for a very large (7 bed) house at 58 Sandy Point Road, Corlette which exceeds the height limit by 13% and does not comply with setback requirements. This DA was approved on 23 August 8 to 2, with Councillors Arnott and Francis opposed – Councillor Arnott always and Councillor Francis generally oppose any ‘variations’ under Clause 4.6 of the LEP.
TRRA did not object to a DA for shop-top housing at 14 Market St, Fingal Bay. While it is well over the height limit it will simply ‘complete’ the row of mixed use buildings in this local centre and was considered an appropriate use of the ‘variation’ clause in the LEP. This DA was approved by Council on 9 August 9 to 1 (Councillor Arnott opposed – Councillor Francis accepted special case).
TRRA welcomed the Council decision on 9 August to discontinue the Planning Proposal to rezone part of the Gan Gan Army camp site at 4874 Nelson Bay Road. The private owner of the site has failed to submit required reports, and Council planners recommended withdrawal of support for the proposal which would have allowed for major development along Nelson Bay Rd opposite the Tomaree sports complex and Council depot.
The revised concept plan for the Bannisters redevelopment has been approved, and once a DA is issued, comment can be made on the detail.
The applicant for a 9 storey apartment proposal for 17-19 Yacaaba St, Nelson Bay has appealed against Council’s refusal of the DA. There will be a conciliation conference on 1 November but the matter is likely to proceed to a Land & Environment Court hearing in 2023.
The same developers controversial plans for another 9 storey apartment building at 11-15 Church St, Nelson Bay (the crane site) is expected to come to Council in the next few months. TRRA will be urging Councillors to refuse the DA on the same grounds – that there is no good justification for the significant excess height over the new limit for the site.
Draft Plans of Management for 3 Council Holiday Parks (Halifax, Shoal Bay and Fingal Bay) were approved by Council on 9 August for public exhibition. TRRA encourages anyone with an interest in these major Council assets in key locations to review these and provide feedback.