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Approved: ‘Dongaville’, on the fringes of town

Clarence Valley Council has approved the construction of a 124-bed temporary workforce accommodation compound on a previously developed and approved 19-lot residential subdivision at 21 Challinor Street, Grafton. The development, which includes one four-bedroom module, 20 six-bedroom modules and 122 onsite parking spaces, will house the itinerant “workforce associated with the large infrastructure works in the region”. Consent was granted for the temporary development for four years. Councillors voted 4-3 to approve the development application (DA), which is being developed by the same owner – Kahuna no. 1 Pty Ltd (Billabong founder Gordon Merchant) – of a similar development under construction in Yamba. Councillors Williamson, Baker, Toms and Simmons voted in favour; councillors Novak, Clancy and Lysaught were opposed – councillors Ellem and Kingsley declared non-significant non pecuniary and significant non pecuniary interests, respectively. Meanwhile, councillors Clancy’s and Novak’s motion, which sought the appointment of a site supervisor to enforce a code of conduct, didn’t make it to a vote. Councillor Williamson pointed out that their motion (which included the former week’s committee recommendations), if adopted, would mean that the conditions that were advocated in the committee’s recommendation would be “negatived” and, in effect, mean the DA could not be approved. Councillor Williamson, with the “indulgence” of the chair (the mayor), was successful in amending the Clancy/Novak motion to remove their call for an onsite supervisor, which aimed “to ensure that the level of noise and vehicle use is limited to that which is reasonable and necessary to reduce the impact on nearby residents”. The irony of this argy bargy is that councillors Clancy and Novak are minuted as the movers of the ultimate decision to approve the DA, which councillors conditioned as follows: “All traffic exiting the site before 7.30am each morning must turn right into Challinor Lane and onto Queen Street. “No traffic is to travel to North Street along the southern length of Challinor Street during that time. “Appropriate regulatory signage is to be installed on-site … to reduce impacts from traffic on adjoining residences.” The applicant will also have to submit a “Code of Conduct outlining acceptable behaviour for any occupants of the site and disciplinary action for any breaches” for approval, prior to the issuing of a building construction certificate. The code of conduct must “form part of any lease agreements over the land … to reduce potential social impacts on nearby residences”. The DA was the subject of a “large number of objections to the proposal”, including traffic noise and volume, loss of amenity (resident workers’ noise and size and scale), fears that the structures would remain after the four-year period and safety and security. These issues and others have been addressed in DA’s conditional approval.