Protesters will pay
MAYOR Warren Polglase has slammed Hastings Point protesters who took Tweed Shire Council's approval of the over-50s resort-style village, The Point, to court and has warned that the council will chase them for legal costs.
The Hastings Point Progress Association, which claimed the project is an over-development of the site and will ruin the character of the coastal village, also faces a hefty bill from developers, who have vowed to pursue the group and “key members” for costs.
Cr Polglase said a decision by the NSW Court of Appeal in favour of The Point, which also awarded costs against the association, proved the council was right in granting it approval.
And he appealed to protesters to drop any plans to take the matter to a higher court.
“I would suggest these parties reconsider their position as council will be pursuing costs along with the other respondent,” Cr Polglase said.
He said the Court of Appeal decision was “a strong vindication of council's planning processes”.
“Our planning staff has been exonerated by this decision and it clearly demonstrates our planners use integrity in our planning principles.
“The decision confirms the planners addressed the issues as required from a merit point of view.”
The progress association had taken an earlier decision by the NSW Land and Environment Court last year to the Court of Appeal in a bid to stop the project, originally given council approval in 2007.
Last week the association's solicitor, John O'Reilly, said the latest decision was “a gross error by the judges” and the association was considering taking the matter to a higher court.
Yesterday the solicitor for the developers, Tony Smith from Stacks the Law Firm in Murwillumbah, issued a statement saying the decision was “not only correct” but confirmed the need for state planning policy to be paramount.
Mr Smith said the council had applied a state planing policy which dealt with housing for seniors in considering approval.
He said it was “the reality of our society that special needs accommodation” should be supported by the state government “to ensure local parochial issues do not prevent much-needed facilities”.
“This case was about whether the council had properly determined the issues,” he said.
General manager for developer Seekchange Pty Ltd, Danny Gillies, said he expected to know within the next week when a court hearing on costs would be held and said the progress association had known what it was getting into.
“They ran an appeal that was a very long shot,” he said.
“They knew all the risks associated with it. We will definitely be pursuing the progress association and key members for costs.”
Mr O'Reilly said he would later prepare a written response.
A council spokesperson said any decision to pursue legal costs would need to be confirmed by councillors at their next meeting on October 20.