Tralee to expand.
Issues: water, greenspace, housing affordability, noise, net zero emissions
APRIL 13 and 27 meetings of council saw the approval of two major housing developments in the local government area, reflecting Australia’s ongoing growing population and housing pressures. Council also decided unanimously to raise rates by 2.5% in the next financial year.
Also tabled and subsequently deferred for discussion until the May meeting was last year’s much publicised Community Strategic Plan.
The new residential developments, passed without too many conditions, are at Bungendore and South Queanbeyan.
In Bungendore, a further 260 lot subdivision was approved for North Elmslea, and at 10 Elkhorn Road Tralee, 47 Torrens title lots were approved.
Crs Preston, Webster and Willis voted against the Bungendore development, and Cr Willis objected to the development at Tralee on the grounds that it was too close to the Hume Industrial estate and would suffer noise issues. She questioned what conditions there were for additional glazing on residences.
Cr Willis and Cr Preston spoke against the Bungendore development and Cr Willis pointed out while she agreed with Cr Preston’s comments, she also noted that in this case, water saving conditions were non-existent. She noted that the Bungendore water supply is precarious.
Inherited from previous council
Cr Preston outlined concerns with the Stage 2B North Elmslea development. These raise wider issues regarding sustainable housing development in regional towns and cities at a time of climate change, environmental constraints and housing pressures, and are therefore quoted at length here.
“Once again, this council is being asked to sign-off on a legacy zoning decision from the previous council — a legacy that I would not be proud of.
“This council is aware that water issues in Bungendore need to be addressed in order that further development in the township and surrounding areas is sustainable. “This DA does nothing to address this issue.
“This council has been made aware, through papers on the undeniable benefits of Urban Forestation, that Bungendore has a real issue. Heat maps indicate much higher than average temperatures in our urban environment than is ideal. “This DA does nothing to address this issue.
“This council has recognised a real need to address housing affordability in our region by commissioning a housing affordability strategy. House and land packages in this subdivision are already being marketed with starting prices in excess of $1 million. This DA does nothing to address this issue.
“This council has been briefed on our path to net zero emissions by 2050 and have outlined our commitment to reaching this target.
“Both this council and the NSW Government have produced strategy documents that encourage the preservation and expansion of greenspaces within urban areas and highlight the community and health benefits of such spaces. This DA does very little to support this.
“The land covered by this DA might well have served as an infinitely less contentious site for Bungendore High School but zoning decisions already taken have taken away this option.
“I was elected to this council based on a platform of sustainable development, a solid commitment to protecting our environment, climate action, housing affordability, additional greenspaces and a commitment to create accessible and inclusive safe play and recreational areas throughout the region.
“This development is inconsistent with those promises and I am unable to support it.”
High school need and siting
The development approval raised an issue that has been widely speculated upon in Bungendore. Adding subdivision without making a site available for community services for an increased population — such as the new high school. A resident commenting on Facebook said, “And yet — while the high school is making Bungendore more attractive for those developers — they’re not being forced to set land aside for it. Instead, it’s being ‘stolen’ from Council and the community.”
At the 13 April meeting, councillors voted in favour of the application to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) for the special rate variation of 2.5%, agreeing the extra income was necessary to meet council’s service obligations. Cr Willis mentioned last year’s suggestion for a 27.8% increase which she and others did not support, probably much to the relief of many ratepayers.
Community Strategic Plan — question about tourism, heritage, vision?
Last year’s survey, the Community Strategic Plan, was on the 27 April agenda but it was voted to defer it to the 11 May 2022 Ordinary meeting.
The Community Strategic Plan was a survey created to identify the main priorities and aspirations of ratepayers for the future of the Local Government area. Community engagement with the plan occurred during 2021, and 1,727 people contributed to the report out of the 62,239 residents in the LGA.
After a quick reading I admit to finding the results of the survey inconclusive, and await any interpretations from people who have clearly delved into it more deeply. As Emma Brooks Maher pointed out in a speech to council during the public forum, tourism and heritage did not figure prominently in the multiple choice questions of aspired outcomes for the LGA and she said the word ‘heritage’ was only used twice in the whole report.
One couldn’t help wishing that the survey questions were more extensive and the word ‘visioning’ had been used in the way the old Palerang Council had enticed residents to ‘visioning’ workshops by tapping in to their clear desire to shape their local environment.
In this particular survey, people often simply mentioned services that were lacking and not featured in the structured questionnaire, such as road maintenance and telecommunications.