THERE was a full public gallery at Bathurst Regional Council on Wednesday night, with a number of items of interest to be decided.
After many years, council was finally set to make a decision on the future of Centennial Park; there was the proposed 222-lot subdivision at Eglinton to be debate; and a number of Vine Street residents were there to voice their objections to plans for a supported living home in their street.
But at least some of those in the gallery would have been hoping for fireworks within the chamber following reports of a slanging match at a council working party last week.
Sadly – or happily, perhaps – there were none forthcoming.
Instead, all councillors were on their best behaviour and engaging in a level of reasoned debate and pragmatism that has not always been in evidence.
The Vine Street development, in particular, sparked an interesting discussion. It also highlighted the strange discrepancies that can exist with regard to planning rules.
In this case we saw the requirements of the NSW Government set against Bathurst’s Local Environment Plan.
Under the LEP, there is no way the Vine Street development would have been allowed.
The LEP prohibits units and seniors housing that close to Mount Panorama and Cr Warren Aubin made it clear he would oppose the development on that basis.
However, that the State Environmental Planning Policies (SEPP) – which override local planning rules – does allow this type of development.
So while a few councillorsed express their concerns about this development in a quiet cul-de-sac, they also accepted that council stood no chance of winning an appeal in the Land and Environment Court so they saw no point in knocking back the DA.
It was the right decision, and now the debate is over we hope this new approach to care in our community is a great success.
Cr Monica Morse, who spoke most passionately in support of the development, acknowledged there is always the fear of the unknown when it comes to change.
And while the change in Vine Street might be significant, it should also be magnificent.
The true measure of a society is the way it treats its most vulnerable and Bathurst has taken a great leap forward with this development. The fact we have saved tens of thousands of dollars in unnecessary court bills is a bonus.