Chillingham DA concern

MORE than 10 years after a group of alternative lifestylers were prosecuted for creating an illegal tepee commune at Chillingham, the property owner is trying again.

This time however, Dr Brian Jefferies, known locally as “Fred”, has followed the proper avenues of Tweed Shire Council and lodged a development application for “Gabalah”.

Dr Jefferies, a maths lecturer in Sydney, wants to turn his 128 acres on Hopkins Creek Road into a rural land- sharing community with 14 dwellings in a configuration of three villages.

Under New South Wales planning legislation, Dr Jefferies said, he is entitled to create 14 dwellings on the property, given the land is collectively owned.

But Council's director of planning and regulation Vince Connell said they have major concerns with the application.

“There are a variety of planning concerns with the application, including possible bushfire-planning conflicts, and clear deficiencies in the quality of information submitted by the applicant,” Mr Connell said.

“The applicant has been requested on three occasions to provide an ade- quate level of information for determination, but has failed to provide the necessary information.

“Council is currently awaiting comments from the Rural Fire Service.”

Dr Jefferies was told the application would most likely be rejected.

“I think it's outrageous,” he said.

“The standards they're applying are if it's a subdivision, which it's not.

“I'm not making squillions of dollars on it.”

If Council rejects the application, Dr Jefferies said he cannot afford to take the matter to the Land and Environment Court.

“It's just pure nonsense,” he said.

“Our plan is to create a village consisting of three hamlets, clusters of low-cost owner-built houses based on ecologically sustainable design with an emphasis on recycled and natural building materials.

“The emphasis for this type of property development is on good design practice for sustainability and promoting a community, but the cost of housing is comparable to other types of property developments on the eastern seaboard of Australia.”

Dr Jefferies said one aim of Gabalah, the Aboriginal word for scrub, is to keep the cost of buying a share for a building site as low as possible.

A Gabalah spokeswoman from Chillingham said: “We just want to live as a community, close to nature and restore the land.”

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