The site of the proposed wedding ceremony venue and eight tourist cabins at Tuckombil.
The site of the proposed wedding ceremony venue and eight tourist cabins at Tuckombil.

Fate of controversial wedding venue DA decided by council

A BALLINA family's plan to run a million-dollar rural wedding venue with tourist accommodation cabins has today been squashed.

After Ballina Shire Councillors heard a deputation from Tuckombil resident Stephen Strahan at today's ordinary meeting, outlining the many community concerns which surrounded the controversial Development application for 43 Tuckombil Lane, Tuckombil, a heavy debate ensued.

The DA, lodged with the council in January, sought approval for the temporary use of the site for five years as a function centre for wedding ceremonies.

The proponent was seeking approval for a staged development comprising eight holiday cabins and associated amenities, infrastructure and earthworks.

The $1.05 million proposal would see up to 20 wedding ceremonies a year, catering for a maximum of 120 people.

The site is currently zoned for primary production under the Ballina Local Environmental Plan.

With 15 separate detailed submissions received by the council objecting the DA, Cr Sharon Cadwallader pointed out there wasn't one submission received in support of the development.

Issues raised with the council included whether there would be plans to hold wedding receptions on-site (although this was not proposed), security and privacy for neighbouring properties, noise and traffic impacts and privacy.

But the main issue for residents and most councillors was whether such a land use was permissible in the rural zoning.

While tourist and visitor accommodation is permissible with consent in the RU1 Zone building type - bed and breakfast and farm stay are permissible - and Section 5.4 of the BLEP restricts that to three bedrooms not 8 cabins.

Because the applicant relied on Clause 2.8 for Temporary Use of land to define the Wedding Function service, it did not comply with BLEP Clause 2.8 (3) (b) stating the temporary use will not adversely impact on any adjoining land or the amenity of the neighbourhood.

Mr Strahan said within the DA, the wedding function centre was "clearly prohibited in a rural R1 zone and the developers have lied on clause 2.8 temporary land use".

"It is not permissible because it is not three bedrooms," Mr Strahan said.

"Given the clause is not fulfilling all sub clauses, it should not be used and therefor it's not legal under the BLEP and as such they should be refused.

Councillors then raised concerns about the word temporary and what that means, with Cr Caldwaller suggesting to make amendments to the BLEP to make it clearer for future applicants.

While Cr Nathan Willis moved an amendment to defer the issue until after Christmas, seconded by councillor Cr Sharon Parry, so councillors could be further briefed on the issues surrounded the proposal, Mayor David Wright said it should be dealt with today.

The deferral was lost 6 to 10, with councillors Eion Johnson, Cr Willis, Cr Keith Williams, Cr Ben Smith voting for the deferral.

Although the council had recommended the DA be approved, with a range of conditions in a comprehensive report brought before today's meeting, councillors voted 8 to 2 as "council is not satisfied the proposed development satisfactorily addressed relevant environmental planning considerations, in particular 2.8 of the Ballina Local Environmental plans BLEP 2012".

Councillors smith, Cr Johnson, Cr Phillip Mehan and Cr Wright voted against the refusal.

The refusal of the DA came after councillors considered three other options: to approve all aspects except the wedding ceremonies, to approve it as sought, or approve the DA but reduce the limited consent for weddings from five to three years.