Mayor, Jim Simmons made sure almost $17 million in DA approvals in July didn't pass unnoticed.
Mayor, Jim Simmons made sure almost $17 million in DA approvals in July didn't pass unnoticed. Clarence Valley Council

Council celebrates record year for DA approvals

THE Clarence Valley's record- breaking 2018-19 financial year in development application revenue accelerated with almost $17million worth of developments approved in July.

In the previous 12 months, Clarence Valley Council approved a record $127million worth of developments.

Should that rate continue the council would approve $204million worth of work in the next financial year.

At Tuesday's environmental planning and community meeting, Clarence Valley mayor Jim Simmons made sure the develop applications item on the business paper did not pass without notice.

Rather than let the committee rubber stamp a report that showed council had approved 67 applications worth $16.995million, Cr Simmons wanted to celebrate the good news. He said the figures following on from a previous year's record were remarkable and a credit to the council employees who handled them.

The report revealed of the 67 DAs approved, 29 were processed in less than 40 days. It also showed there were 126 outstanding DAs on the books.

The council's planning director Des Schroder said the July figures were particularly healthy for the region.

"There was only about $6million of commercial/industrial developments. The rest were house constructions and bits and pieces like new garages and carports,” he said.

He predicted the 2019-20 financial year could set a new record and set the Clarence Valley for a soft landing once the big infrastructure projects on the bridge and highway bypass closed.

"There'll be another $100 million, probably $150million, for this financial year,” Mr Schroder said.

He said several housing and aged-care developments in the pipeline this year would boost numbers.

"There's four or five housing developments coming up for approval,” he said.

"Once those are approved you start to get the DAs for housing construction on them.”

Cr Simmons said the council's achievements in the financial year were a cause for quiet satisfaction.

"People have been advocating for a redevelopment of the Maclean waterfront and for a new supermarket in the town since the Butterworth Plan was adopted in the 1980s,” he said.

"Well, the book-ends of the Maclean riverside precinct work are now complete and the supermarket is just about there. We'd now like to secure the Fisheries building and we can finish the whole riverside precinct.”

"We've also had funding promised for the redevelopment of the riverfront in Grafton, which is something the community has been chasing for decades and we'll be ready to start there pretty much as soon as the funding comes through.

"In 2018/19 we also developed new playgrounds in Yamba, Copmanhurst and South Grafton and we've just started work on the big one - the new Jacaranda Park.”

Cr Simmons said it had also been a big year for private and public development beyond the $127million DAs.

"There was another $20 million worth of development approved for the Grafton Base Hospital that wasn't included in those figures because they didn't need to lodge a development application,” he said.

"There was a record in sub-division earthworks with more than 1000 house sites under construction and record aged care investment of more than $60 million.

"We also received a record amount in grants, including funds for major upgrades of Yamba Rd and the road into Harwood Marine as well as close to $7 million to redevelop the Grafton Regional Gallery.

"You can add record tourism numbers (1.3m visitors) to that list as well. That included 680,000 overnight visitors who stayed 2,355,037 nights, 27,000 international visitors who stayed 157,830 nights and day visitors totalled 600,000.”

Cr Simmons said it wasn't just in the development field where long-term dreams were reaching finalisation.

"It's also been a big period for social development,” he said.

"Headspace arrived a while ago now, but we are now seeing the development of a Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) in Grafton.

"That is something the community has been chasing for probably 15 years.

"That is without considering work on the Pacific Highway upgrade, the new Grafton and Lawrence bridges and the correctional centre.

"We've been pushing for some of these things for decades. It was a big, big year but it's not over yet.

"Council has just adopted a record capital works budget for 2019/20 of $65.9 million.”

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