Bega council responds to Sydney media slamming

The below statement was issued on Friday, November 3, by the Bega Valley Shire Council.

It was in response to Sydney metro print and radio media accusing BVSC this week of “blatant theft of Bega Valley property” and “insane environmental bureaucracy”.

The council said at no point was it approached for comment by those media outlets and the coverage “fails the basic principle of journalism and fair play”.

‘Setting the record straight’

Recent Sydney based media coverage around zoning matters in the Bega Valley Shire does a disservice to the community and those seeking clarity.

Stories published in The Daily Telegraph and echoed on Radio 2GB this week fail the basic principles of journalism and fair play. At no time has Bega Valley Shire Council been asked to contribute or provide information to this reporting.

Instead, journalists have relied on the perspective of developers with considerable commercial interests and taken advantage of people in difficult personal situations.

Council is keen to set the record straight:

In correspondence dated March 2006, Council advised Mr Wayne Doyle of Nethercote that he had the potential for five concessional lots on his property and of the actions he needed to take including lodging a development application with Council.

This action was not taken and the development entitlements were lost when the NSW Government revoked concessional lot provisions in 2008.

The loss of this development entitlement in 2008 has no relationship to a land zoning gazetted in 2013.

READ MORE: Claims of ‘land grab by stealth’

Council is currently not actively rezoning land.

Between 2010 and 2013, all NSW councils were required to prepare a new Local Environment Plan to comply with the requirements of the NSW Planning Department.

The Department introduced a new set of standard zonings across NSW. As part of that process, the majority of the Bega Valley Shire was zoned to the closest comparable new zone.

For example, 2(a) Residential Low Density became the R2 Low Density Residential Zone.

In some cases there was not a direct like for like option, for example the former 1(c) Rural Residential zoning was replaced by a combination of R(5) Large Lot Residential or E(4) Environmental Living or in some small areas E(3) Environmental Management zoning.

All of these retain a wide range of land uses including residential dwellings.

The draft LEP was placed on exhibition for a period of 12 weeks between 18 April 2011 and July 8 2011. Public information sessions were also held in Bega, Candelo, Cobargo, Eden, Bemboka and Merimbula.

At all times Council has worked with landholders who felt the new zonings did not meet their needs, a small number of those cases remain outstanding and staff are currently attempting to finalise arrangements for those properties.

READ MORE: Council hits back at E zone furore

The Boydtown property south of Eden is one such example.

The owner is seeking dramatic increases in development potential for parts of the property for which no development potential previously existed.

Boydtown landowner Bruce Lyon

Boydtown landowner Bruce Lyon

These requests have not been supported in the past by Council, the Department of Planning, or the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

The owner has been provided multiple opportunities to discuss these matters with Council and Council staff and over the last 15 years has submitted numerous Masterplans, all of which contained large variations to the previous plans.

Countless hours of Council and State agency time have been devoted to assessing these plans, despite that there has been little progress on the development of tourism facilities and residential areas, or the approved marina development at Boydtown.

To be clear, the Boydtown estate currently has significant areas of land already zoned for residential and tourism purposes.

That land has had development potential for some decades and Council is actively encouraging the land owner to move forward with the long talked about tourism and residential developments on the property, including the 80 hectares of vacant residential land that could potentially accommodate more than 600 dwellings.

All that aside, it is important to state that under the new LEP, the vast majority of properties in the Shire had no change to their development potential or change to the range of activities that were permissible.

The only thing that changed was the name of the zone.

Furthermore, numerous land owners successfully requested changes which resulted in an increase to their development potential.

Development is permissible within Environmental Zones.

The following indicates some of what is permissible in Environmental Zones:

E3 – Environmental Management, 4.5% of the Bega Valley Shire

Dwelling houses, secondary dwellings, bed and breakfast accommodation, cellar door premises, extensive agriculture, farm stay accommodation, function centres, home based child care, information and education facilities, intensive plant agriculture, places of public worship, restaurants, roads.

E4 – Environmental Living, 0.01% of the Bega Valley Shire:

Dwelling houses, secondary dwellings, dual occupancies, exhibition homes, bed and breakfast accommodation, community facilities, home-based child care, jetties, places of public worship, recreation areas, restaurants, roads.

E2 – Environmental Protection, used primarily to protect our valuable foreshore areas around our estuaries, coastline and important areas of bushland, 0.9% of the Bega Valley Shire:

Boat launching ramps and jetties, boat sheds, community facilities, drainage, environmental facilities, flood mitigation works, natural water-based aquaculture, roads, water recreation structures.

Click here for council advice on what is permissible land use in E zones

Council’s expert, professional planning staff remain ready to assist any landholder with questions and concerns.

Council’s General Manager Leanne Barnes concludes, “Council is committed to working with landowners to clear up any misinformation and assist wherever possible to get the best outcomes available and provide clarity.

“If you are a Bega Valley Shire landowner and have a question please contact us,” Ms Barnes said.

“A number of landowners have done so over the years, which is the best approach and the vast majority appear more than happy with the outcomes.”

Contact can be made via 6499 2222 or council@begavalley.nsw.gov.au