Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan to be given “significant weight” by Council

Council has resolved to give significant weight to the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan when assessing development applications in the village. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

COFFS Harbour City Council has endorsed amendments to its Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan (LEP) 2013, and resolved to give significant weight to the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan when assessing development applications in the area.

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The Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan, which was adopted by Council on 22 February 2018, proposes a reduction in the maximum building heights for the town centre and adjoining residential areas, excluding four key corner sites within the Beach Street Village Precinct.

The four sites are identified in the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan as having potential to retain the existing maximum building height control of 15.5 metres (approximately five storeys).

“Providing opportunities for well-designed and appropriately located five-storey, mixed use buildings, amongst a generally three-storey built environment, will achieve a balance between maintaining the village character with the need to accommodate future growth,” a Council report stated.

The proposed LEP amendment seeks to implement the recommended heights within the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan.

The Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan is the first Place Manual to be developed for the Coffs Harbour LGA.

At Council’s meeting on 11 June, Council resolved to initiate Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan 2013-Housekeeping Amendment No. 3 (including Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan and Local Growth Management Strategy Design Excellence for Industrial Areas).

Public exhibition of the planning proposal was undertaken from 30 July to 15 September 2020.

Three government/stakeholder submissions were received during the public exhibition period, and 225 public submissions.

Of the 225 public submissions, 224 relate to amendments associated with the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan (building heights and land use zones).

A total of 223 public submissions strongly supported the proposed LEP amendment and requested that the maximum building heights accord with the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan.

The proposed LEP amendment will ensure that Coffs Harbour LEP 2013 remains up to date and accurate, and that the actions and recommendations within the Coffs Harbour Local Growth Management Strategy 2020 and Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan are implemented.

Cr Denise Knight moved a motion at Council’s ordinary meeting on Thursday 26 November for Council to give significant weight to the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan.

“The reason I have added this is because I feel that we have put a lot of work into the Woolgoolga Masterplan, we’ve had the community on board and all this is saying is that we add some extra weight to the Masterplan,” Cr Knight said.

Cr John Arkan, however, was concerned that Council was relying too much on “some noises that are coming from some parts of the community in the Woolgoolga area in regards to the Masterplan”.

“There are alot of people that are quite happy for this not to be pushed forward so quickly,” Cr Arkan said.

“We need to be able to assess what is actually happening, there are masses of people out there that are not quite able to present a submission.

“Is there a real representation of the wishes of the Northern Beaches, maybe we are not relying on the right information.”

Cr Sally Townley, however, said a huge amount of public consultation went into the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan.

“I think the records show that there was a huge amount of buy-in from the public, and I think it also shows that one of the key things that people were concerned about, a theme that was repeated over again, is building heights,” Cr Townley said.

“Seeking to have some expansion, move with the times, but make sure that those heights were restricted.

“Here we are now, we’re ready to go and we’ve had the message loud and clear from the community ‘please get the plan gazetted’.”

However, Cr Keith Rhoades and Cr Michael Adendorff questioned the worth of the document for assessing development applications.

“I do wonder whether that policy would be binding, and whether we are not just creating a toothless tiger,” Cr Adendorff said.

Council staff said they were already looking at the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan when assessing current development applications in the Woolgoolga area.

Council resolved to endorse the Planning Proposal, delegate Council’s General Manager Steve McGrath to finalise the Planning Proposal, continue to consult with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on the terms of the amendment to Coffs Harbour LEP 2013, and resolved to give significant weight to the Woolgoolga Town Centre Masterplan as a matter of immediate development assessment consideration prior to the making of the LEP.

Cr Denise Knight, Cr Paul Amos, Cr George Cecato, Cr Tegan Swan and Cr Sally Townley voted for the motion, and Cr Michael Adendorff, Cr John Arkan and Cr Keith Rhoades voted against.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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