New land usage rule to hit home

NO more land will be rezoned for residential development on the Tweed, and new homes will not be allowed to cover more than half the size of land on which they are built under sweeping changes to shire-wide planning controls.

Tweed Council has also signalled the possibility of imposing a population cap in the future by freezing new developments unless water storage capacity can be increased to guarantee sufficient water supplies to meet growing demand.

The moves, aimed at stopping Gold Coast-style urban sprawl and the proliferation of McMansion-style homes as well as trying to ensure a more sustainable future, are certain to spark controversy. The decision not to rezone any more land for homes under its draft 2008 LEP is contrary to its own urban release strategy which identified a further 1000ha of greenfield sites which could be rezoned to keep pace with future growth.

Council general manager Mike Rayner said this had been rejected in favour of a new push to increase densities in designated areas, including more high-rise development, to preserve natural values and lifestyle.

"Consequently it has been recommended to the council that we do not proceed with any further investigation of the 1000ha until all options for urban consolidation have been robustly pursued," Mr Rayner said.

"This is the first step taken to reverse the trend that would potentially see the Tweed becoming a dormitory suburb of south-east Queensland - one giant urban sprawl."

Mr Rayner said this might mean increased heights and densities in some areas, but it was necessary if people were to live more sustainably and reduce the shire's urban footprint.

He said existing residential-zoned land can accommodate an extra 46,000 people, and it was time to draw a line in the sand and accommodate some of the future population growth in urban areas where services and infrastructure already exist.

The decision to impose a limit on the size of single-storey houses to preserve the Australian backyard and stop the march of McMansion-style homes applies immediately, following what the council says has been two years of community consultation.

Mr Rayner said many homes on the Tweed occupy up to 90 per cent of the block, and new controls were needed to ensure houses were not too big for their blocks or the blocks too small for their houses.

The controls will also regulate how close buildings are to neighbours, that there is sufficient space for gardens, and that open living areas are not located immediately adjacent to side boundaries.

The council has also identified 350ha of land over the next 25 years suitable for a broad range of employment opportunities, including mixed-use business parks which would include some residential accommodation.

But a key issue likely to impact on all future development is current flood and catchment management studies over the next two years which will decide areas where urban consolidation can occur and whether projected population increases can be accommodated.

Tweed administrator Max Boyd said the shire's ultimate population will be "significantly impacted" by recommendations flowing from the council's water catchment management strategy and whether water supplies can be improved.

He said steps which needed to be taken to improve supplies, included increasing the capacity of Clarrie Hall dam, building a new dam at Byrril Creek and driving down water consumption from 145kl/person to 125kl/person.

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