DPE to consider new Casino housing estate proposal

A planning proposal to rezone five lots on Lennox Street, Casino, from primary production to general residential has been submitted to the Department of Planning & Environment (DPE) to determine whether there is sufficient merit for the project to proceed. The proposal, lodged by consultancy firm Newton Denny Chapelle on behalf of Ian Barnes, was discussed at last night’s Council meeting.

Richmond Valley Council’s General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said potential development resulting from the proposal would see 46 new residential allotments ranging in size from 800m2 to 921m2. Mr Macdonald said although the land was mapped as being regionally significant farmland, an agricultural assessment demonstrated the land was not suitable for agricultural activities for a variety of reasons, including size, location and soil type. 

He said the site was located within a low-risk flood and bushfire area, and did not contain any items of local environmental heritage, making it a good choice for housing. He said the North Coast Regional Plan 2036 identified that Casino would need an additional 1550 homes to cope with a population increase: “Casino currently has about 31.5 hectares of vacant residential zoned land, however, the majority of this supply is not readily available for immediate release due to a variety of reasons, ranging from no desire by the owners to develop, to contamination issues, and lack of essential services. With the final stage of Settlers Estate selling out, the town has been left with few options to meet the projected demand. If successful, this planning proposal will go some way towards meeting the Regional Plan’s housing targets with an estimated 46 lots to be created.”

Mr Macdonald said referring the proposal to the DPE, which is known as ‘The Gateway’, was the first step in a long process. He said should the DPE give the proposal the green light, it would still need to undergo further studies such as carrying out environmental assessments, engineering and planning assessments and, importantly, undertaking community consultation to enable residents to provide input and feedback: “Council is keen to get the community’s input and feedback on the rezoning proposal. As soon as Council hears back from the DPE, and the relevant assessments have been undertaken, the full proposal will be publicly exhibited, and all those with an interest will be invited to have their say. He said Council was regularly looking for ways to strengthen local economies: “Council has been working hard to ensure its communities can attract jobs, foster economic development, and be attractive places for people to live, work and raise families. Rapid population growth and a low-interest rate environment are providing a boost to the Richmond Valley residential market, marking a coming of age for some of our towns and villages which have, until recently, taken a back seat to the coastal strip. The community can rest assured Council will continue to protect the Valley’s enviable lifestyle with all development proposals undergoing thorough examinations.”

The five steps in the gateway determination process are:

  • The planning proposal - the relevant authority prepares the planning proposal. The relevant authority is usually the local council, however, the Minister can appoint the Secretary of the Department of Planning and Environment, or the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel to be the relevant planning authority.
  • Gateway - the Minister (or delegate) decides whether the planning proposal can proceed (with or without variation) and subject to other matters including further studies being undertaken, public consultation, public hearings, agency consultation and time frames. A planning proposal does usually not proceed without conditions of this nature. The conditions are then complied with and if necessary, the proposal is changed. A decision on whether the relevant council is able to finalise particular types of LEPs is also determined at this stage.
  • Community consultation - the proposal is publicly exhibited as required by the Minister. A person making a submission may also request a public hearing be held.
  • Assessment - the relevant planning authority reviews public submissions. Parliamentary Counsel then prepares a draft local environmental plan.
  • The making of the LEP - with the Minister’s (or delegate’s) approval the local environmental plan is published on the NSW legislation website and becomes law.