PROPERTY developers are pushing for Wagga City Council to dump its urban salinity restrictions at Lloyd estate.
The push, which reached a critical point at last night’s council meeting, would see controls that prevent homes at Lloyd west having natural turf wound back.
Council currently imposes a “80-20 rule” – meaning only 20 per cent of the property’s surface area is allowed to soak up water. The other 80 per cent must run into the storm water drain.
Council made moves to relax the rule from 80-20 to 65-35 earlier this year. However, the developer wants it to go 50-50.
“If it’s 50-50, it makes it no different to any of the other subdivisions around Wagga,” project manager Michael McFeeters said.
“If we can get it to 50-50, there will be no special conditions (on Lloyd west homes).”
The requirement is seen as one of the biggest impediments to land sales in the area, with buyer take-up of new blocks underwhelming compared with other Wagga estates such as Estella Rise.
“It does, obviously, have benefits for us in terms of development, but it would also be a great benefit for Wagga,” Mr McFeeters said.
“Lloyd has been identified as one of the growth areas in Wagga and if we don’t have Lloyd going, then we’re going to have a problem.”
In response to developer concerns, council last night resolved to undertake a new study of urban salinity and Lloyd’s role in preventing it.
The report would add to a developer-funded study, which found a 50-50 rule would not increase urban salinity in Wagga.
Greens’ councillor Kevin Poynter warned against rushing to relax restrictions, saying any changes at Lloyd could affect the salinity of other suburbs in Wagga.
“It’s important we get it right because these controls were put in place to protect people downstream,” he said.
“We can’t just say to the developers they can do what they want without first conducting our own investigation.”
The developer said an initial report that informed council on the 80-20 rule more than three years ago relied on inaccurate CSIRO data. However, while the data is accepted as inaccurate, there is dispute over whether it had any bearing on the initial rule.
A striking feature of Lloyd west is the use of astroturf outside homes. It is one of the many ways homeowners have stopped water soaking into the ground.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story has been amended to reflect the fact council still imposes the “80-20 rule”. In May this year Councillors resolved to amend the ratio to 65:35 however this ratio has not yet been applied to the development due to later concerns expressed by council over the potential risks associated with any change. The council meeting on December 14 supported further studies be undertaken before further decisions to relax the ratio are made.
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