Minutes of the Berry Forum Meeting
Held at the 11 February at 7.30pm in the Pavilion Hall at the Showground.

Present: 60 residents and ratepayers. Councilors John Wells and Patricia White.
Apologies: Clrs. Lynne Kearney and Andrew Guile. Committee members John Cullity, Margo Claringbold.

Welcome and Introduction (David Carter – Chair)

Berry Bypass progress (Shannon Chisholm – Fulton Hogan)
Shannon gave an interesting and informative presentation, which was well received. He will provide further updates at the beginning of each Forum meeting.

Administrative Matters (Stuart Coughlan – Secretary)
Minutes of the Forum Meeting held on December 10 2015 – Approved.
Financial Report – Current balance of funds is $1300
The contractor managing all Council waste depots has ceased trading.

Strategic Plan Update (James Robinson – Chair Strategic Plan Sub-committee)

  • As part of Phase 2 of the engagement process, Resident Survey forms have been distributed across Berry. The survey is also available online at the Forum website. The close-off date is 5 March and the draw for the $150 voucher will be made on 10 March.
  • The survey can be completed by anyone living or working in Berry. We are seeking individual responses, not households. A short form survey for teens is being distributed via social media.
  • The Consultant will soon be appointed and will work with the Committee to collate and prioritise the ideas put forward by residents and visitors.

Council Amalgamation Update (Clr. John Wells)

  • Wells provided an interesting and relevant insight into the workings of the Joint Organisation, which covers four councils, including Shoalhaven for which John is the representative. The collaboration between the councils has been productive and is viewed as a model for other JO’s in the State.
  • He also referred to the very significant issue of Shoal Water, which was not referred to in the merger proposal.
  • Shoalhaven City Council, which has been assessed as ‘fit for the future’ is opposed to the proposed merger with Kiama Council. Submissions can be made up to 28 February.

Mt Hay DA – Land & Environment Court Status
The attached status summary was read out at the meeting.

Planning Proposal for 510 Beach Rd (David Carter)
There were no issues raised from the floor.

General Business
Jann Walsh and Amanda Lopez raised concerns about the NSW Government’s new Biodiversity Conservation Act and the repeal of current legislation, which could lead to the loss of habitats.

Meeting closed 8:55pm.

Next Meeting is 14 April 7.30pm in the Pavilion Hall at the Showground.

Mount Hay DA 

  • This DA is critical for all residents because, if approved, it will set a precedent allowing developers to do build whatever they want on the escarpment.
  • The developer is proposing to construct a very large tourist accommodation building in the only cleared area in the middle of the escarpment. The proposed building will be 100m to the right of the existing building complex.
  • The existing tourist buildings on the site have floor areas of around 60 to 70sqm, but the full visual impact from North St is reduced because they are partly side on. The maximum permissible size is 120sqm, but the developer is proposing a floor area of almost 200sqm. It will directly face the town and will be the most visible building from anywhere around Berry.
  • Council staff have twice approved this development, but fortunately our councilors have twice refused it. The developer has now appealed to the L&E Court and it is Council staff that are responsible for defending the refusal.
  • Council has filed its list of Contentions (reasons for refusal) with the L&E Court. The applicant must respond by 15 Feb, and a week later the Court will decide on how the hearing will proceed.
  • A critical issue was raised with Council’s Planning Department about its interpretation of what form of “tourist & visitor accommodation” can be considered permissible in an E3 zone. The Planning Dept advised that any cabin-style development is considered permissible. The Committee considers this response to be unacceptable and will be raising the issue with the L&E Court.
  • The development breaches many other LEP and DCP provisions, which Council staff did not consider important, but which we will be raising with the Court.