The proposed Woolgoolga Tavern.
The proposed Woolgoolga Tavern.

Parking for new Woolgoolga tavern sparks council debate

PARKING in Woolgoolga CBD has become a contentious issue, with some residents fearing a lack of car parks will strangle future development of the town centre.

Councillor John Arkan raised the question of on-site parking for the proposed new Beach St tavern as a matter of an urgent nature at the end of the latest Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

He raised the prospect of Coffs Harbour City Council being taken to the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) because it modified a development application for the new tavern in a way that was contrary to the Development Control Plan for parking.

Cr Arkan wanted to know why the council had modified the DCP for off-street parking; what would be the public benefit of this and why had the council not notified anyone of this modification, including councillors?

"There is a focus group for the Woolgoolga Master Plan - were they ever notified and if not, why not?" Cr Arkan said.

But the council's general manager Steve McGrath said the local authority had not changed anything.

He said the new DA had come forward with a voluntary planning agreement, which had been advertised, and he recalled the director of city planning sending a memo to the councillors informing them this had happened and if anyone wanted to go to ICAC on the matter, "let them go for it".

Cr Arkan said the matter had nothing to do with the voluntary planning agreement but with modifications to the DA.

Mr McGrath said he was not aware of any modifications, but suggested Cr Arkan raise the matter with the director of city planning, "especially given the suggestion of the seriousness of the allegations".

Chris Chapman, city planning director, later said there had been no alteration to off-street parking requirements for the tavern, just a change to allow the applicant to do the work in stages rather than one hit, plus an increase in contributions to reflect current rates.

Mr Chapman said the change had not been advertised or notified because it was considered minor and not deemed to detrimentally affect adjoining neighbours.

Cr Arkan said the new DA for the tavern had reduced the proposed number of upmarket villas to just two and had removed the on-site undercover parking in favour of a contribution to parking, which was not allowed for larger developments under the DCP and had not been permitted to other proponents.

The original DA for the tavern was approved at an extraordinary meeting in January 2009, allowing it to be approved under the old, less-restrictive liquor licensing regulations, which did not require a social impact statement.

"I am not against the tavern, but if we allow no on-site parking and just pocket the money, it will mean a massive change and will affect the whole CBD,"  Cr Arkan said.

He said a grassed block currently used for parking on the corner of  Queen and Market Sts in the CBD, previously owned by the council, was now privately owned by a Sydney doctor.

When the development at 78 Beach St was approved by the previous council at an extraordinary meeting on January 22, 2009, Cr Arkan unsuccessfully moved that approval for the Beach St Tavern DA be deferred until the applicant had applied for and passed the (requirements for) new liquor licensing laws, in particular a new community impact statement.

Submissions on the re-advertised DA closed on November 13.

Submissions on the voluntary planning agreement on car parking at 78 Beach St close on Tuesday, November 26.