Baker gets green light by council

ANDREW Baker’s vision to transform a prominent section of the riverbank at Maclean appears certain to become a reality.

An application by Mr Baker’s company, Holder Baker Enterprises, to complete filling operations on an area in front of The Top Pub and on a council-owned lot of land was given the green light by Clarence Valley Council on Tuesday night.

Mr Baker was particularly pleased that the motion was carried unanimously.

“I appreciate that the eight councillors that were at the meeting approved the application. This is very good news for the township of Maclean,” he said.

“Essentially what we want to do is make a section of our land and a section of publicly owned land into a usable public space by filling it and putting turf over the top.”

In the application’s early stages, it was originally stated that under section 94 contributions, Holder Baker Enterprises would have to contribute more than $220,000 due to the change of use of the area from a car park to a public space.

However, an amendment was made at Tuesday’s meeting as debate between councillors revealed the car park had never been zoned a car park, and therefore did not warrant Holder Baker Enterprises paying anything.

“Originally, because we were wanting to take up car parking spaces, council required us to pay $13,898 per space. There were 16 spaces so the total figure was totally out of the question,” Mr Baker said.

“We made it very clear from the beginning that we would not go ahead with the project. I also sought legal advice which explicitly stated that council had no right to ask us to pay for car parking credits.

“While technically the pub will have no car parks, Maclean has ample parking in the centre of town and we would like to see the public not just drive to one spot and drive away again but actually mill around and walk through the town centre.”

At the meeting, Councillor Ian Dinham was vocal on the issue, stating council had no right to invoke section 94 on the application.

“The former Maclean Shire Council consent conditions did not require construction or creation of a car park and there never has been a defined car park, regardless of how many cars park there from time to time,” Cr Dinham said.

“We are not forgoing any section 94 contributions because we are not entitled to levy them in this case and filling the land does not obligate the applicant to create a car park.”

While significant public benefit will come from this application being approved, Mr Barker’s company will also see a positive effect.

“We have significant amounts of property in the surrounding areas and will benefit accordingly,” he said.

“At this stage, the project is looking at costing us in excess of $60,000, but we have no set time frame of when it will be completed. It could be in the next two months or it could be in the next six.

“We have to have the time and recourses to be able to adequately complete it. However, ideally I would like to see it completed by this year’s summer period.”

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