Draft Minutes of the Berry Forum Meeting
Held 11 April 2019 7:30pm at the Berry School of Arts

Present: 122 people, including Deputy Mayor Patricia White Apologies: John Wells
51 residents sent emails advising they would not be able to attend the meeting, but wanted to record their support for the Committee’s position on ‘temporary’ functions centres and inappropriate tourist accommodation development on rural land.

Welcome and Introduction (David Carter – Chairman)
Minutes of the meeting held 15 Dec 2018 were approved.

‘Temporary’ Function Centres (Stuart Coughlan)
Stuart’s presentation covered the following points –
– How a ‘temporary’ function centre would operate
– The impacts on legitimate function centres that would lose business to the ‘temporary’ centres
– There are at least four DAs prepared by SET Consultants, with acoustic reports for each site
– Close to 90 objections for both Strong’s Road and Tindall’s Lane have been lodged.

  • Ashley Wright-Hands, who lives next door to the proposed TFC, spoke to the Forum about its impact.
  • A 2015 LEC case found the council involved had failed to correctly consider Clause 2.8 and that an absence of impact is required. This judgement provides a clear precedent for refusing the current applications.
  • Council staff will make a recommendation, but councilors will decide at a Development Meeting.
  • The following question was put to the Forum?

Does the Forum want the Committee to oppose the ‘temporary’ function centres at the Council Development Committee?
Forum members voted overwhelmingly in the affirmative, with only two votes against.

Tourist Accommodation Development in Shoalhaven (Stuart Coughlan)
Stuart first provided an overview regarding the intent and operation of planning legislation –

  • The intent is to balance development interests, environmental interests and the public interest
  • Several areas have been identified where the intent of the legislation is not reflected in its current wording
  • Tourist cabins were omitted and remains outside the scope of the legislation
  • A misguided Department of Planning (DoP) amendment to the group term ‘tourist & visitor accommodation’ resulted in the state-wide LEP and the DoP’s Tourism Practice Note becoming misaligned
  • Eco-tourism is still evolving and DoP staff are not experienced enough to construct effective legislation
  • The result of these omissions, amendments and weak provisions is anomalies and inconsistencies that create loopholes, which circumvent the intent of a balanced approach to development.
  • The Forum Committee is lobbying the DoP and Council to address the inconsistencies in the planning legislation, whilst at the same time opposing developments that seek to take advantage of them. The prospect of seeing the planning loopholes closed has prompted retaliation and scaremongering by some who seek to portray the Committee as “anti-development” or “anti-tourism” and “not representative of the community”.

Stuart then made a presentation covering the following points –

  • The key statutory planning control is the Standard Instrument Local Environment Plan (SILEP)
  • Councils have Development Control Plans, but theses are treated as discretionary guidelines
  • A DA is first assessed to see if its land use is permitted in the relevant zone
  • The SILEP provides Dictionary definitions of land uses and Clause 5.4 scaling controls (eg farm stay must be a secondary business with a maximum of 7 bedrooms)
  • SCC is the only coastal council using the group term ‘tourist & visitor accommodation’ (TVA) in rural zones
  • All other coastal councils permit only bed & breakfast, farm stay and eco-tourist facilities
  • TVA and the tourist cabin description are used to circumvent the SILEP definitions and scaling controls
  • Farm stay accommodation with 20 bedrooms, and that is not a secondary business, can be characterized as TVA with tourist cabins
  • A boutique hotel with 20 suites can be characterized as an eco-tourist facility
  • There is no SILEP limit on the number of tourist cabins or eco-cabins
  • There is no limit on the size of cabins, with some looking for floor areas of 300sqm
  • Eco-tourist cabins can’t be sited on ridgelines or against the escarpment, but tourist cabins can

The community’s view on tourist accommodation development was characterized by the Forum Committee as being not against growth in tourist accommodation in rural areas, but concerned about proliferation of inappropriate development not constrained by effective regulation.

Forum members were asked if this interpretation was correct and the following objectives and questions were put to the meeting for ratification?

  • To promote effective regulation to stop the proliferation of inappropriate development in rural areas.
  • Does the Forum want the Committee to continue its discussions with Council and the Department of Planning?

Forum members voted overwhelmingly in the affirmative to both questions, with no votes against.

Beach Rd Planning Proposal (Stuart Coughlan)
Stuart provided an update on zoning changes and minimum lot sizes. The PP will be going on public exhibition shortly. Concerns raised by a resident in Campbells Run were explained.

Apex Park New Toilets (Laurie Watson)
Laurie provided an update on the plans for the new toilet block at Apex Park (available on the Forum website under News updates). Council have advised that there is insufficient budget for the twelve cubicle block and alternative configurations are being considered. Samples of the building materials were shown for comment.

Berry Heritage Matters (Catherine Barlow)
Catherine presented on the following points –

  • The current state of heritage protection for the Berry village in the Shoalhaven LEP, particularly the lack of Heritage Conservation Areas (HCAs) that could protect streetscapes and the village centre.
  • The large amount of research done by the National Trust and Navin Officer Heritage Consultants that supports protection of Berry’s unique character.
  • Council’s current proposal to investigate the addition of 2 HCAs and 29 properties to the LEP, subject to the Heritage Study currently being undertaken, community consultation and then approval by the DoP

A show of hands showed overwhelming support for Council’s current investigation, that it be prioritized and that the Berry DCP be exhibited as a matter of urgency.

Forum Correspondence (Stuart Coughlan)
Available on the Forum website under News updates.

General Business
Council has approved single centre-line marking for 12.4kms of Kangaroo Valley Rd, subject to finding funding.
The No Right Turn signs on the corner of Queen and Prince Alfred have been removed – one sign remains on the opposite corner however and will be removed shortly.

Meeting closed 9:25 pm
Next Forum Meeting – June 13th