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Boat builder vows to continue fight for zoning change

Yamba Welding and Engineering proprietor Bill Collingburn has vowed to continue his campaign to establish boat building infrastructure on Palmers Island, despite the NSW Planning & Environment Department’s rejection of a planning proposal to rezone the land.

“We still have a number of options open to us, so we are going to pursue them,” Mr Collingburn said.

The Independent asked: Are you referring to the final finding and recommendation in the planning department’s finalisation report, which states, “There may be better ways to achieve the planning proposal objectives than the proposed amendment, which have not been considered”?

“Yes that’s part of it,” Mr Collingburn said.

However, Mr Collingburn said the department’s finalisation report’s review was “not independent in my view”.

“The department and City Plan overturned things that the JRPP [Joint Regional Planning Panel] has previously stated were not legitimate grounds for refusal,” Mr Collingburn said.

“It’s a justification report; I’ve shown it to some other planners and their opinion that it is a justification report; it’s simply not an independent report.”

Mr Collingburn declined discussing the specific ‘grounds’ he referred to, however, he did note that a majority of councillors had supported the planning proposal on each occasion it was tabled prior to the October 2019 CVC meeting.

“All I can say is that I do have avenues available to me and I am pursuing them and I’m not going to give up,” he said.

Independent: What are your feelings about the department’s strong criticism of CVC?

“I can’t say too much about that, but I am working with council to have an outcome that suits us everyone,” Mr Collingburn said.
“I’ve got a long way to go and I am going to go there.”

In the April 2018 JRPP report, panellists Garry West (chair), Stephen Gow and Pamela Westing were unanimous in recommending “the planning proposal should proceed past the Gateway in accordance with the original submission”.

In its advice and reasons for the panel’s recommendation, the report stated that the “panel believes the planning proposal is not inconsistent with the North Coast Regional Plan 2036, which encourages clusters of related activity but does not define the term ‘cluster’ specifically”.

The panel also “believed” the proposal was “consistent with” CVC’s Industrial Lands Strategy.

And while the panel assessed the proposal as “not consistent” with the Far North Coast and Mid North Coast Marine Based Industry Policy (2015), it wrote that the proponent had “submitted sufficient information to indicate the relevant impact criteria can be adequately ameliorated or offset … [and] addressed at the development stage”.

The panel considered that any issues regarding the proposal’s bulk and scale can be “addressed at the development application stage”.

On the inconsistency with Section 117 Direction 1.2 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act (which aims to “protect the agricultural production value of rural land”), the panel wrote it believed “the inconsistency is justified because the planning proposal requires access to a navigable waterway, potentially it would provide significant economic benefits, and the area involved in the planning proposal means its conversion to non-agricultural uses would have insignificant impact on agricultural activity in the Clarence Valley”.