PLANS to build the North Lismore Plateau housing development have been put on hold after a Bundjalung Aboriginal elder successfully had the area's rezoning declared invalid.
Michael Ryan has won a bid in the Land and Environment Court to have the Lismore City Council's removal of environmental zones to protect the plateau quashed.
The 255ha development involves the construction of 1550 new homes to cater for more than 3600 residents.
Mr Ryan also named former NSW planning minister Pru Goward in the case over her approval of the faulty environmental plan.
He argued the removal of environmental zones, which contain significant indigenous heritage sites and threatened animal and plant species, was done without proper community consultation.
Justice Terry Sheahan yesterday declared the rezoning invalid and ordered Ms Goward to cover all of Mr Ryan's legal costs.
He ordered the removal of environmental zones from the area constituted a major change to the planning regime and should not have been done without proper community consultation.
Council will now prepare a report "with a view to re-completing any necessary steps and addressing the relative administrative issues without delay".
Mayor Jenny Dowell was adamant the development would still go ahead despite the current roadblock.
"The North Lismore Plateau development has been in the making for 15 years and is essential for Lismore's future growth and prosperity," she said.
"This is a major development that includes 1300 residential lots and 1550 new dwellings. We are talking about providing a huge boost to our workforce and the CBD, creating affordable housing opportunities and jobs."
Council's development and compliance manager Peter Jeuken blamed the NSW Government for the error.
"NSW councils must be able to rely upon advice from the NSW Government, and in this instance we were advised by the NSW Department of Planning that council had fulfilled all of its requirements, and that parliamentary counsel had reviewed the (local environmental plan) amendment concluding it could be legally made with the full knowledge the (environment) zones had been removed," Mr Jeuken said.
"Despite following all of the advice from the NSW Department of Planning including the relevant checks and balances, and their processes arising from the review of (environmental) zones on the Far North Coast, council feels it has been let down as a result of this judgment."
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