Council green lights 10 storeys at Cobaki Estate
RON Cooper was elected to Tweed Shire Council in 2016 on a promise he would limit Kingscliff developments to three storeys, but on Wednesday he supported putting 10-storey buildings on other people's doorsteps.
Cr Cooper has been campaigning to have the height limit in the shire - except for Tweed Heads - limited to three storeys.
In June, the NSW Government rejected the council's plans to limit the height to three storeys, complaining there had not been enough public consultation. Since then the council, led by Cr Cooper, has been working on a Kingscliff locality plan to reduce height limits to three storeys in the coastal village.
On Wednesday he led a motion to send the new Kingscliff plan with its three-storey limit to the Department of Planning.
But in the very next motion he voted to back an increased height limit at the Cobaki Estate from three storeys to 10.
"At this stage I am fully aware of the fact we have to accommodate our growth in the Tweed,” he said. "We are better accommodating for this by growing upwards rather than outwards.
"If we have to go outwards then we really do start to lose the Tweed. If we have some spots where we can go up, Cobaki is one of them.”
Councillors in favour argued the land, being developed by billionaire Bob Ell, was on the Queensland border and basically part of the Gold Coast where residential towers are a feature of the skyline.
Tweed Mayor Katie Milne said there was another option to highrises - European-style "midrises”.
"It should be more in the European style than the American style we see on the Gold Coast,” she said.
The modification of the plans for the 5500-home, $3billion Cobaki Estate southwest of Gold Coast Airport is in the public exhibition stage.
Meanwhile, Cr Milne has dredged up political donations made up to nine years ago as she lashes out after councillors ignored her pleas and approved highrise buildings at Cobaki Estate.
Cr Milne branded the councillors' decision as "shocking”.
"I didn't expect anything less from the Liberal and National councillors, but what is going on with Labor's support for this developer?” she said.
"First they back the hospital at Kings Forest (MrEll's other Tweed development), contrary to the well-established future planning for the hospital expansion to be at Tweed Heads, and now they side with the Liberal and Nationals to back 10 storeys at Cobaki. Both Labor and the Liberals accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from this developer in donations over the years.”
But a Leda spokesman told the Tweed Daily News that in accordance with NSW legislation, the company had not donated to any NSW political party for nearly 10 years.
Mr Ell owns the two largest proposed housing estates in the Tweed, the 5500-home Cobaki estate and 5500-home Kings Forest estate south of Kingscliff.
Leda wants the NSW Government to build the $534 million Tweed Valley Hospital at Kings Forest, but the Coalition Government is building it in Cudgen Rd, near the Kingscliff TAFE.
The NSW Labor opposition has vowed the hospital will be built at Kings Forest instead if it wins the March election.
The only Tweed Labor councillor, Reece Byrnes, said his support for increasing height limits was based on evidence.
"In regards to donations, Leda has made those donations to both sides a long time ago when they were still legally allowed to do such,” he said.
"To suggest my decisions on council are made on any other way than on evidence and what is best for the shire would be untrue.”
Australian Electoral Commission records show Mr Ell's companies donated no less than $165,309 to the NSW branch of the ALP and $78,000 to the NSW Liberals between 1999 and 2007.