Concerns raised after 20-lot approval

By DAVID MOASE

A 20 LOT subdivision has been approved in North Boambee despite advice that it will result in the removal of primary koala habitat.

The development is planned for land to the south of Lyons Road and adjoining an existing residential area and was approved by Coffs Harbour City Council staff under delegated authority without referring the matter to councillors.

Concerns about the impact on the koala population have been raised by both the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) and the council's own Environmental Services branch.

Brendan Diacono, manager of the DEC's Conservation Planning Unit North East Branch, wrote to council general manager Mark Ferguson in February saying the DEC 'does not support the modified development proposal, particularly given the need to remove primary koala habitat'.

The letter also said Mr Diacono considered the 'proposed subdivision is contrary to the very explicit provisions of the Coffs Harbour Koala Plan of Management'.

Philip Tennant, a natural resource officer with the council's Environment Services branch, wrote to council planning officer Lyn Green and manager of building and development Mark Salter suggesting that a letter to the applicant, Gold Coast company, Amberstar Pty Ltd, reflect the efforts put in by Ms Green to get the applicant to consider environmental values.

He also asked that the letter 'reflects the very little effort that (the applicant has) made to comply with the requests'.

"The parcel has significant biodiversity values that have been brought to the attention of the applicant on more than one occasion through written correspondence," Mr Tennant stated.

"On request by council . . . the applicant has failed to modify the proposal to accommodate these values. (An earlier modification was made to exclude lots south of Rutland Street)."

The council's Director of Environment, Planning and Development, Gina Vereker, said the large majority of the primary koala habitat was south of the planned Rutland Street extension, where no development is planned.

"Objectors to the proposal say there is going to be a substantial impact on the area and that was true of the earlier proposal," she said.

Five trees will be planted for every koala habitat tree removed in the southern part of the development, while two trees will be planted for every one removed in the northern area.

Ms Vereker said it had been made clear to the developer that the area to the south of Rutland Street would not be developed and the council hoped it would one day become part of the Bongil Bongil National Park.

Approval was co-signed by the general manager and the mayor on July 12.

Ms Vereker said co-signing was often done with controversial developments but in this case it had happened because the developer, who first submitted the plan two years ago, had been pushing for a resolution.



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