Rodney Degens.
Rodney Degens. CONTRIBUTED

Building control suggestion sparks anger in council

DEPUTY Mayor Rodney Degens's attempt to dig up the history of planning investigations along the highway between the two Coffs Creek bridges got an angry response from former mayor Keith Rhoades and led to a lengthy debate at the last Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

Cr Degens submitted a notice of motion asking that a report be brought back to the council "outlining the history of planning investigations and issues of contention along the highway (B6) strip between the two bridges and within the Jetty precinct, with a view to conduct a review of existing planning controls inside Coffs Harbour city, particularly for the two locations mentioned above, for the purpose of updating the current LEP given that anomalies exist in these areas".

"Is this a blatant back-door attempt not to comply with the decision of council two weeks ago?" Cr Rhoades asked.

Cr Rhoades was referring to the council's recent rescission motion refusing planning permission for an $18 million Signature Hotel development on the site of the Coffs Coast Motor Inn and Villas (formerly the Midway Motor Inn).

Cr Degens, who lobbied for approval of the Midway development, called a point of order, saying there was nothing in his current motion referring to any specific parcel of land, but his objection was overruled by Mayor Denise Knight, who nevertheless warned Cr Rhoades to "step carefully".

Cr Degens described local building controls as "static" and "lagging behind the times" and said they needed to be made "current and relevant to the needs of entrepreneurs and the creative pursuits of (the) present day", while traffic management at the Jetty was "outdated at the very least".

He pointed to the recent increase in building maximums in the B6 zone to 600sq m for some uses and said the State Government was dictating progress with its Justice Centre in Beryl St, which was "embarrassing for the council".

The Justice Centre is taller than allowed under the council's B6 zone building code but was approved by the State Government, bypassing the council's rules.

Cr Rhoades said the council had already been through the LEP process; the Local Environmental Plan had sat in the Department of Planning for more than 12 months before being gazetted and a lot of money would be expended producing the report.

Cr Sally Townley said the development control plans and LEPs were already available.

"I'd like to see some of the councillors do some homework and really represent the case," Cr Townley said.

"I'm not convinced a new review of planning controls of these particular areas is the highest priority - what happened with the Justice Precinct is not a reflection of our planning - it is outside our control."

Although supported by Crs John Arkan and Mark Sultana, Cr Degens's motion did not gain majority support.

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