Anger as villas get the nod

RESIDENTS of a new Kootingal subdivision have lost their eight-month campaign to stop the construction of three villas in their quiet street.

Orchid Dr homeowners were left dismayed this week when Tamworth Regional Council voted 5-3 

to approve the controversial development. The decision came despite the plans clearly violating developer-imposed covenants guiding potential buyers as to the projected amenity of the subdivision. But such covenants, which in this case recommended all structures be dual occupancy and of a certain size, have no bearing on council decisions.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Orchid Dr resident Peter Smitham, 62, who abided by the covenants when building his home last year.

“People should be very wary of when covenants are advertised, because they really don’t mean a thing when it comes to council passing developments.”

Councillor James Treloar, speaking at Tuesday night’s meeting, said residents had to understand that council’s own planning instruments trumped covenants.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing again a community that is asking the council to defend them in their rights under the covenant and we actually have no authority to do that,” he said.

“Our role is to purely determine ... compliance with the council’s LEP (Local Environment Plans) and this completely complies.”

Orchid Rd residents, some of whom addressed councillors at the meeting, also maintain the development will have enormous implications for traffic in the street.

Council approved the development with 39 separate conditions, including that “all vehicular movements to and from the site shall be in a forward direction”.

“How on Earth are they going to police that?” Mr Smitham said.

“It’s ludicrous. They can’t, unless I stand here taking photos of cars, but I don’t want to do that.”

In voting against the development, Cr Phil Betts said the traffic management plan before council was “as complex as I have seen”.

“While it fits on a piece of paper, in reality if you walk out there and have a look at that block, it just doesn’t meet the requirements I feel for that amount of traffic,” he said.

But deputy mayor Russell Webb, while admitting he did not “feel all that comfortable about actually approving it”, said the council had no choice.

“If it went to the Land and Environment Court, we would lose and it would cost the ratepayers of this community considerable funds,” Cr Webb said.

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