Andrew Bain - 1 March 2022

Andrew Bain presented to Council at the Public Access Session on 1 March 2022.

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

Thank you for this opportunity.

I am sure you are aware of the considerable criticism from the community about Land Development in the Eurobodalla. I want to be more positive than adding to this criticism at this stage and propose that Councillors lead a joint activity together with Council staff and the community to create a set of principles that any land development in the Eurobodalla should meet. It would also include a process by which the community could consider whether a particular development proposal met these principles.

To help Councillors understand the issues that would need to be addressed in such an undertaking I have focused on the Draft State Environmental Planning Policy (Design and Place) 2021. I have supplemented this document with issues flowing from community reactions to existing developments.

The aims of the SEPP closely parallel the priorities that I believe Council should be attempting to achieve for Eurobodalla. They include:

  • To provide a consistent set of principles and considerations to guide the design of the built environment,
  • Recognising the economic, environmental, cultural and social benefits of high quality design
  • Design layout that supports the health and wellbeing of the community
  • To ensure sustainable development and conserve the environment. This includes to deliver sustainable and greener places to ensure the wellbeing of people and the environment
  • To minimize the consumption of non-renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Design layout that maximises passive heating and cooling and minimizes adverse impacts on residents
  • To ensure high quality and innovative design,
  • To recognize the importance of country to Aboriginal people.

Design principles in the SEPP include:

  1. That the scale, layout and connections of the development respond appropriately to the surrounding area;
  2. That the consent authority must consider whether the development detracts from the desired character of the area.
  3. The development does not result in an adverse impact on, or net loss of, public open space
  4. Supports increased opportunities for walking and cycling by integrating with  existing networks and connectivity between important areas;
  5. Minimises greenhouse gas emissions by incorporating –
    • Passive design
    • Energy efficiency
    • The use of renewable energy and
    • Uses water sensitive design to maximize water reuse.

The draft SEPP echoed the range of concerns expressed by the community about recent developments which included:

  1. The priority given to relatively fast vehicle traffic over pedestrians cyclists and preservation of mature trees.
  2. Design that ignores a response to climate change and ignores the links between design and preservation of the environment and the implications of the design for social wellbeing.
  3. Preservation of the character of local communities and the natural assets important to them.

The second half of this suggestion is that there be some process with the Council and the community that for any particular development demonstrates how the principles are being met by the development proposal.

Some years ago there was such a process. I believe it involved a formal committee of Council comprising one or two nominated Councillors, Council staff and community representatives.

The process probably needs to be iterative in that if planning changes significantly during the process leading to a DA the Community should be made aware of the changes and the reasons for them.

I am sure if Council worked through this process it would be possible to establish a set of priorities appropriate for the Eurobodalla which would give both residents and developers more certainty and lead to more responsible development. There is an opportunity to make Eurobodalla a leader in development design of which we can all be proud.