The location of the subdivision off between McIntyres Lane and Bloodwood Cl.
The location of the subdivision off between McIntyres Lane and Bloodwood Cl.

Expert views divided on merits of subdivision

AN APPLICATION for a subdivision at Gulmarrad that did not tick a single box with Clarence Valley Council staff lives to fight another day.

At Tuesday's environment planning and community committee meeting councillors deferred their recommendation for an application to create an 11-lot subdivision at Bloodwood Grove, Gulmarrad, pending an independent assessment of the proposal.

After rejecting the officer's recommendation to refuse the subdivision, because it did not adequately address environmental impacts on flora and fauna, failed to address flooding issues, created an unacceptable traffic hazard and generally did not meet council's biodiversity management plan, councillors were concerned that two professional opinions could fail to agree so completely.

Cr Greg Clancy moved to accept the officer's report.

He said staff had done well to come up with such a thorough report, given the difficulties the site created.

He said the block had been "underscrubbed" because of an earlier successful DA, which would have changed the ecology of the site.

But he agreed due to the three-year period this development had been before council, he could accept an "independent" expert review of the information.

"There's no harm getting a review from an independent planner. As long as the review is independent and thorough," he said.

Cr Clancy's motion was defeated 3-2, allowing Cr Richie Williamson's foreshadowed deferring a decision to allow more expert information to come to council to become the motion.

He said in his 12 years on council it was the first time had seen such a "polar opposite" in competing views.

"I don't think I can remember two professional opinions being so far apart on so many issues," he said.

"I hope there can be a meeting of the minds to work through some of these issues so we can make an informed decision, whatever that may be.

"I have grave concerns on the road, I have grave concerns with regards the flooding of the site. … and there are biodiversity issues that need to be overcome as well."

Despite the thorough rejection of the proposal, Cr Andrew Baker said the willingness of the proponent for the owner, Andrew Fletcher, to put his credibility on the line over the proposal, was enough for him to wait for more information.

"It is a submission from a local professional well known to council who does put his credibility on the line to bring this to us," Cr Baker said.

"It is enough for me to pull back and say we've got experts who just cannot come to terms with how they view the requirements."

Despite agreeing that council exhaust every possibility before making a judgment, Cr Baker said there was a pragmatic reason for it.

"I do have a fundamental difficulty in building two houses where you may be able to build 11, 10, 9, whatever it is," he said.

"I can't kid myself that the other eight, nine, six whatever it is are going to consume some more land close by around the place.

"If they've got to do it on five acres instead of one then we're sending people out to consume much more suitably zoned land than what is necessary."

Cr Clancy said the argument for an independent review of the proposal had won him over.

The committee voted unanimously to recommend seeking an independent opinion on the subdivision's merits.

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