Sides 'at war' over Casuarina

TWEED Shire Council is rumoured to be “at war” with the New South Wales Planning Department over the Casuarina town centre.

At last week's council meeting all councillors, excluding mayor Joan van Lieshout, voted in favour of a beach esplanade road for the $650 million development, against the department's “strong-worded” recommendations.

Their action has been described as a deliberate rebellion against the department, which stripped council last month of all power regarding the World Rally Championship round in Tweed and forced it to establish a government-dominated planning panel to deal with development approvals valued at more than $10 million.

“Tweed Shire Council are using the Casuarina town centre as a political football, and are snubbing their noses at the New South Wales State Planning Department,” Casuarina Residents' Association president Rob Bryant said.

“The residents of Casuarina and the Tweed are caught in the middle.”

Mr Bryant feared the development might never come to fruition, with council and the planning department at loggerheads over the beach access road.

But councillor and former Tweed mayor Warren Polglase said such allegations were rubbish.

“A report was put to council by staff, staff made a recommendation and councillors supported that recommendation. The town centre will proceed,” Cr Polglase said.

“They (council officers) will sit down with the department and it will be worked out between the two parties.”

Cr Polglase said beach access had always been a big issue at Casuarina.

“There's no road on the beach front like there is in Kingscliff. There was always a push from various groups to have complete beach-front access.”

In a letter to council sent before the meeting, the planning department's deputy director Richard Pearson described the road, which would run north-south through a beachfront park, as a “sub-optimal outcome for the site”.

“The department is of the view that extension of the esplanade road would result in a loss of public open space and that adequate vehicle access and parking to the foreshore is provided in the proposal,” Mr Pearson wrote.

However, despite this advice, debate from Cr van Lieshout and appeals from the Casuarina Residents Association, councillors voted for the recommendation.

The Tweed Daily News contacted the department to allow it to respond to council's decision and outline its next action over the development, which is the biggest project it is currently considering.

A spokesperson replied: “The department has noted council's resolution and will continue to work closely with both council and the proponent to ensure the best possible planning outcome for the Casuarina town centre and local residents.”

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