THOSE racks of colourful goodies and signs that adorn our footpaths have long been a source of conflict between local businesses and Bellingen Shire Council, not least because they require permission via a development application.
However recent changes to NSW Government legislation that puts outdoor dining in a new category of ‘exempt’ development (ie: not requiring a development application), has caused a shift in the policy landscape.
As the council’s Senior Strategic Planner, Daniel Bennett, explained at Wednesday’s council meeting, the change has created a situation where arguably “the activity with the greatest potential to impact upon other footpath users is subject to the least amount of assessment”.
Mr Bennett said this had prompted a review of the processes regarding goods on footpaths.
“A revised policy is under development that will reduce the complexity of this process and streamline approvals for business owners,” Mr Bennett said.
“Anyone with a road reserve frontage to their business needs to keep the required clearance and then can use the rest of the footpath for trading opportunities.
“To implement this process, the council needs to amend its Local Environment Plan … the amendment would seek to make the display of goods and A-frame signs on footpaths an exempt development.”
Cr Gordon Manning said he thought the amendment was a good idea.
“Anything that ensures less onerous rules and regulations on business owners is a good thing,” Cr Manning said.
Cr Desmae Harrison said it was a wonderful initiative.
“My experience is from the Dorrigo perspective and I think we need life, colour and movement in the street – and this will give us that,” she said.
“I see this as having big benefits for businesses.”
Mr Bennett said while business owners would no longer require a development application, other fees would still apply.
The council supported the amendment unanimously.