Is complying with the rules not enough?

Last month’s decision by Council to approve Cedar Grove Stage II is the subject of a rescission motion which seeks to defer the decision until every possibility of other access routes have been explored.

A fire truck in Banksia St demonstrates concerns

A fire truck in Banksia St

The rescission motion has been put forward by Councillor Neil Reilly, with the support of Gavin McClure and Warren Steel.

All three voted against approving the 100 lot development, and attempted to defer the decision at the meeting.

According to Reilly, he lodged the motion for four reasons:

  • insufficient information provided on alternative entry/exit options
  • new information on availability of adjacent land has come to light (not made clear in the report)
  • the decision should have been decided by as many councillors as possible (Mark Honey was away)
  • Overwhelming public discord over safety.

The issue with the development centres around the access. The proposal from the developer has the only access through Banksia St, which leads from the roundabout on Jamberoo Rd, just west of the Highway.

Concerns are held by residents that the streets are too narrow for the increase of traffic that will come firstly with the construction and then when the traffic using the entrance increases by more than double.

“I’m after an outcome that builds better safety,” says Reilly. “I’m not saying it doesn’t comply, I’m saying it could be better.
“Just complying with the rules doesn’t always give the optimal outcome. Sometimes you need a more lateral approach. I think we have the obligation to seek the absolute best out of any development.”

Councillor Andrew Sloan, who voted to approve the development along with Kathy Rice, Mark Way and Brian Petschler, believes that the developer has not only complied with all of the requirements, but has made concessions to improve safety and amenity.
“I am concerned about the rescission motion because at the moment I can’t see what the legal justification for it is, but I can see the legal implications if we have to go to the Land & Environment Court over it,” he says.  “I’ve looked hard and can’t find a precedent.”

He sympathises with the affected residents, but doesn’t believe in giving false hope despite the popularity it may bring.

“We need to be consistent in applying the laws so that when we reject an non-compliant development we are on firm ground.”
Mike Yalden of the Lipac residents’ action group says the access road is just not wide enough, “With current car to household density in Cedar Grove replicated in the new estate there would be over 440 vehicles using Banksia Drive as their only access. In peak hour times it could be expected that there would be one vehicle every 12 seconds on that narrow stretch of road.”

He says when what is now called Stage I was sold, buyers were told the higher land to the south was to remain rural, and asked to sign documents saying they wouldn’t complain about farming noises or smells.

Acting General Manager Bryan Whittaker says that advice has been sought from independent legal counsel and the Office of Local Government as to whether the rescission motion is lawful or not. He does not know of previous motion like this happening.
The Notice of Determination (which gives the approval subject to conditions) has already been sent to the developer.

Mr Whittaker said “Stage I of Cedar Grove was approved by the NSW Department of Planning, with a complying road layout and geometry having regard to a site specific DCP.

“This same road system meets relevant standard of road width for the proposed expansion.”

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