Council approves worker huts, residents outraged

Residents and councillors gather at the end of Challinor St Grafton last week for the councillor's inspection of the site.
Residents and councillors gather at the end of Challinor St Grafton last week for the councillor's inspection of the site. Tim Howard

A GROUP of Grafton residents opposed to a plan to put workers' accommodation huts in their street are disgusted with the way Clarence Valley Council has handled their objections.

Residents from Challinor St sat in the gallery at Tuesday's council meeting to hear Clarence Valley councillors vote to approve the construction of temporary accommodation for 124 workers in their street.

One of that group, Jayne Miller, said the councillors seemed to have missed the point of the resident's objections.

"Our concern is that it's in the wrong place to have 124 workers," Ms Miller said. "There's problems with the amount of traffic, noise and the loss of amenity. They were all talking down the possibility of anti-social behaviour from workers, when there were so many other things to consider."


Clarence Valley councillors listen as Challinor St resident Gary Harrison makes a deputation against a workers accommodation development application proposed for the street.
Clarence Valley councillors listen as Challinor St resident Gary Harrison makes a deputation against a workers accommodation development application proposed for the street. Tim Howard

At Tuesday's meeting Cr Greg Clancy attempted to have the appointment of a site supervisor included in the conditions of consent for the DA to police a code of conduct the council has demanded be drawn up for the site.

"We've got a situation where there are concerns in the community, petitions have been raised, we've listened to onsite deputations and the residents feel they have real concerns," he said.

"Surely the company could designate someone as a site supervisor to make sure the workers obey the code of conduct. If there is more than one company, maybe there could more than one supervisor."

But other councillors said this was too onerous for the developers.

Cr Richie Williamson said while the intention was good, it was not a practical solution.

"We need to give as much protection as possible to the residents," he said. "And the code of conduct does that."

Cr Williamson said the addition of the code of conduct plus traffic controls that ensured traffic leaving the site turned right down Challinors Ln, instead of going down Challinor St to North St, would give residents adequate protection.

He dismissed suggestions the workers would be party animals who would disturb residents with noisy, late-night partying.

"I don't think they're here for a party," he said.

"If there are a few noisy ones, I'm sure there will be 120 others to remind them they have to start work at 6am."

Other councillors were not so sure.

Cr Debrah Novak said she did not like the idea that the residents could be a "militia" tasked with "babysitting" 124 young people.

Cr Andrew Baker said the council should not be a de facto police department.

"People who leave home to get work should not be getting an extra level of policing on the suspicion they might do something wrong," he said.

Councillors voted 4-3 in favour of the DA with two conditions added at last week's committee meeting.


Topics:  challinor st clarence valley council residential community worker accommodation

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