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‘Done deal’ saves developer from further charges

Geoff Helisma |

Westlawn Property Trust (WPT) will not be charged an additional contribution towards the cost of the roundabout proposed for the Yamba Road and Treelands Drive intersection.

As a condition of consent for the service station under construction at the intersection, WPT paid an eight per cent share of the estimated $500,000 construction costs, however, at the June 25 Clarence Valley Council (CVC) meeting, staff advised councillors that the roundabout would cost more than half a million dollars.

When councillors set the $500,000 cap at the September 2018 meeting, the estimate for the proposed non-conforming roundabout was $174,000.

Councillor Karen Toms said the cost overrun coming back to council for a decision had “given Cr Baker the opportunity to put forward something about traffic lights”, despite councillors deciding last year to construct a roundabout.

Councillor Richie Williamson disagreed.

“In my view, there will be a roundabout there; no doubt that decision has been made … and that’s going to happen,” Cr Williamson said.

“At $500,000 the developers certainly are … the developer has already paid their eight per cent, so they’re happy, they’ve got a reduction in their development charges and that’s how it is.

“It’s a done deal … we only get one bite at the cherry.”

Cr Toms interjected and called a “point of order Mr Mayor”.

“I don’t believe that is true, that the developers have a reduction in their charges,” she said.

“The council, in fact you [the mayor, Jim Simmons], made the idea of [a] $500,000 [maximum] based on council’s report that said it would only cost $174,000.”

The Independent sought clarification about what the developer would pay and emailed the following questions to CVC on Thursday June 27, however, answers were not provided until a further request was made on July 3.

Clarence Valley Council’s response said the answers should be attributed to environment, planning and community director Des Schroder.

Independent: Cr Williamson said it was a “done deal” and there could be no going back when it comes to charging Westlawn Property Trust eight per cent of whatever ends up being constructed. Is that correct?

Des Schroder: Yes

I: What if the cost had been less than $500k; would Westlawn have received a refund?

DS: This is hypothetical. The cost will be more than $500,000.

I: And, if they have already been charged, why weren’t they charged the 8 per cent fee once the actual cost was known?

DS: The 8 per cent contribution was a condition of consent, meaning the development could not proceed without it.