Mastracolas Rd, Coffs Harbour.
Mastracolas Rd, Coffs Harbour.

Landholder fed up with lengthy council process

REZONING land in Mastracolas Rd for medium-density housing would provide a unique opportunity for people to walk to work from their homes, North Coffs Harbour landholder George Mitchell told Coffs Harbour City councillors at their last meeting.

Mr Mitchell, who owns land at 30G Mastracolas Rd, told the councillors more than 2000 people were employed at Park Beach Plaza, HomeBase, McDonald's, the BCC cinema complex and other businesses within walking distance of his land.

The land, located behind HomeBase, is currently zoned rural, a definition he said was "long outdated".

In February 2012, council staff recommended deferring rezoning of this land to medium-density residential pending the resolution of issues about public open space, internal road networks and the potential for land use conflict between medium-density residential and rural land in the North Coffs precincts.

Last year council staff estimated that providing infrastructure to the area would cost $8.7 million.

With contributions in New South Wales being capped at $30,000 per building block for greenfield areas, excluding water and sewer, they concluded the council would be unable to recoup its costs for development of the area.

But Mr Mitchell said if the western precinct, R1, was excluded from the planned rezoning, the costs of servicing the eastern R2 precinct were sustainable and achievable, with this land capable of providing 125 housing blocks at a cost of $1.5million or $16,754 per lot.

His land is within the R2 precinct.

Mr Mitchell, who spoke to the councillors 14 months ago on the same topic, described the current state of planning for rezoning of the land as "paralysis by analysis."

He said he was frustrated by the lack of progress, despite carrying out all the investigations requested by council staff.

"We have prepared detailed designs for water services, sewer services, road and transport infrastructure, cycle ways and parklands and I have been frustrated by the lack of progress despite these detailed investigations to assist council in planning one of its release areas," Mr Mitchell told the councillors.

"One of the most frustrating aspects of the council's staff processes is that they set the bar far higher for my private planning proposal than they set for themselves," he said.

"For example, we have been required to provide for a stormwater detention system and associated costings for Precinct R2, yet when the council was progressing the rezoning of this precinct, this was ignored."

Mr Mitchell said the land had been identified (for future housing) in both the State Government and the council's growth management strategies, was close to the city centre and had access to sewer, water and road services and he believed there was ample information on the environmental planning and engineering aspects of the rezoning for this to proceed on a staged basis without the need for further investigation.

He said the age of 80 was approaching far too rapidly for his wife and himself and they had endured 10 years in retirement without superannuation.

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