FOLLOWING a comprehensive and exhaustive assessment process, the proposal for a highway service centre at New Italy has been refused by Richmond Valley Council’s Development Assessment Panel.
The proposal required consent of Transport for NSW to create a new access for the proposed highway service centre. Transport for NSW was unable to grant consent as the location of the proposed service centre is contrary to the Ministers for Planning’s Direction for Commercial and Retail Development along the Pacific Highway.
The proposed development, as lodged by New Italy Holdings Pty Ltd, included a service station, heavy vehicle refuelling area, truck wash facility, shower, gym, laundry facilities for truck drivers, four separate cafes/restaurants, including two with drive-through facilities. The proposal as a whole was characterised as a highway service centre, which is not permissible in the zone.
The application was put on public exhibition for 28 days last year, receiving 56 individual submissions in response to the notification. The majority of the submissions oppose the proposal. The issues of concerns raised in these submissions related to traffic impacts, access, location, heritage consequences, detrimental economic impacts on local businesses, amenity impacts, bushfire risks and impacts on natural environment.
Council’s Development Assessment Panel found the application failed to demonstrate the potential traffic implications for the Pacific Motorway, including local traffic accessing Swan Bay New Italy Road and impact of performing U-turns, especially by up to 26-metre long trucks.
The Pacific Motorway has U-turn bays at each end of the development site which would attract additional conflicting turning traffic on the highway, not just local traffic.
It was also concerning that all vehicles from the proposed highway service centre were required to exit into Swan Bay New Italy Road. The proposal failed to demonstrate the suitability of Swan Bay New Italy Road to accommodate the traffic volume, especially large vehicles.
The proposal included clearing of vegetation to facilitate the proposed development and it was accompanied by a Biodiversity Development Assessment Report. The subject report was not considered satisfactory by the Biodiversity and Conservation Division of Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
In addition, the proposal was unclear with respect to the quantum of clearing required to accommodate the proposed development, including ancillary services such as the new groundwater bore, on-site sewerage management system, effluent areas, and the like.
General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said as with all development applications received by Council, the New Italy proposal underwent a full professional and technical assessment to ensure it met relevant NSW Government legislation and planning controls.
Mr Macdonald said Richmond Valley Council was the consent authority, however, given its cross over with a number of NSW Government agencies the proposal was referred to Transport for NSW, the Biodiversity and Conservation Division of Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, the Natural Resource Access Regulator, and the Heritage Council of NSW for input.
He said Richmond Valley Council had a proactive philosophy to support development, but it had to be in the best interests of the community.
“Our Development Assessment Panel’s thorough investigations found the proposed development does not satisfy the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, the Roads Act 1993, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, nor Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP) and Development Control Plan (DCP),” Mr Macdonald said.
“Both the LEP and DCP clearly set out requirements to support and encourage social and economic benefits within the Richmond Valley, as well as manage appropriate and essential public services, infrastructure, and amenities for Richmond Valley.
“In its current form, New Italy Holdings Pty Ltd’s application fails to minimise the risk of harm to the community through the appropriate management of the development and land use.
“Of concern is the section of road between the proposed highway service centre exit and the motorway is not an approved heavy vehicle route; having B-Double and B-Triple trucks regularly using this section would put considerable pressure on the Swan Bay New Italy Road and adversely affect local traffic.”
Mr Macdonald said a number of other issues were identified, such as stormwater and sewage, earthworks and noise impacts.
He said the application did not provide enough information to satisfy the Development Assessment Panel’s concerns these issues would not impact both the natural and built environments.
“Having regard to the insufficient information contained in the application, non-permissibility, and the non-compliances with the LEP and DCP, and the amenity impacts generated, the approval of the proposed development was not in the interests of the public and was, therefore, refused,” Mr Macdonald said.