Debate raging over changes to Kingscliff locality plan

STANDING HIS GROUND: Cr Ron Cooper is opposed to higher buildings in Kingscliff.
STANDING HIS GROUND: Cr Ron Cooper is opposed to higher buildings in Kingscliff. Scott Powick

KINGSCLIFF'S two major community groups - its chamber of commerce and its ratepayers and progress association - are at loggerheads with some Tweed councillors for meddling with height limits in a key plan that will shape the town's future.

Both groups claim the draft locality plan was developed in consultation with locals over a three-year period and that the community had been willing to consider building heights up to five storeys in certain areas before a majority vote by councillors in March capped heights at around three levels.

The decision by the councillors to change the draft plan without asking locals came less than one year after Tweed Shire Council won a national award for its consultation process on several major Kingscliff projects, one of which was the locality plan.

"Before (the Draft Kingscliff Locality Plan) had even gone out to the residents of Kingscliff the heights were altered,” Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association president Dot Holdom said.

"I've been on four locality planning processes and I have never, ever seen that someone would change something before it went out to the community for it to say what it believes,” Ms Holdom said.

She said the association's members were asked about building heights during discussions that helped shape the draft.

"(Our members) decided they weren't unhappy to consider a three-metre height relief on the western side of Pearl St, between it and Turnock St, on the understanding that there would be public benefits arise from that,” she said.

Kingscliff Chamber of Commerce's acting president, Nerida Dean, said the group was calling on the shire's seven councillors to come to a chamber breakfast next Tuesday. She said the council's director of planning, Vince Connell, would be a key speaker.

"From the chamber there's two things,” she said. "One is there was a locality plan that was put together over three years and Cr Ron Cooper has (lobbied to) change it without consultation with the community, and we object to that. It's not Ron Cooper's Kingscliff locality plan, it's the Kingscliff Locality Plan for this community and it was put together by a reference group and he's just gone in and changed it...

"The second thing we're not happy with is there was a motion back in April, put forward by Cr James Owen, that proposed that the councillors have council planners educate them about the implications of the changes (Cr Cooper) proposed before they accepted them and they voted four-three not to have that education.

"Quite frankly, the other councillors don't live in Kingscliff and they made no attempt to come back to the two peak bodies in Kingscliff, which is the chamber and the ratepayers association, and ask for their input.”

Cr Cooper said he had 14,500 signatures that supported no increase to height restrictions in Kingscliff and claimed the original draft plan had been at odds with this.

"(Council) want to go to 16.6m and 20m - 16.6m is five-storeys and 20m is six-storeys,” he said.

"They would like to go to those heights, especially in the greenfield site (west of Kingscliff) and Pearl Street.”

NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley visited Kingscliff yesterday to throw his support behind Cr Cooper.

"I was here at the invitation of local councillors to express my strong support for the retention of the three-storey height limit in Kingscliff,” he said.

"I don't want to see Surfers Paradise-style development come to Kingscliff.”

Topics:  justine elliot kingscliff chamber of commerce kingscliff locality plan kingscliff ratepayers and progress association luke foley ron cooper tweed shire council

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