Development gloom

By CRAIG McTEAR

ALAN Martin is sick and tired of development in West Coffs being 'stifled' by uncertainty over the future route of the Pacific Highway.

The director of Sydney-based Prestige Properties says more than $100 million worth of housing developments are at stake, and that it was now time to act.

He has had development applications before the city council for more than 12 months to create a 150-lot residential subdivision at Valley Heights Estate and another 15 lots at Valley View Estate, both off Shephards Lane.

"When fully developed, these projects are valued in excess of $80 million," Mr Martin said.

"This represents a major investment in Coffs Harbour's future and a very significant capital injection into the Coffs Harbour economy.

"Other developments in the West Coffs area similarly affected include future stages of Parklands Estate, Eden Park Estate, and parts of the Roselands Estate.

"These combined could increase the development value to well over $100 million."

Mr Martin said the council had told him that the development applications would not be approved until the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) had announced the preferred highway route.

"I have been working with the council to overcome issues relating to the development including servicing, water quality, flooding, flora and fauna," he said.

"It had reached a point in early August when council advised that it appeared that everything had been done to satisfy the council and the DA could now be approved."

He said the council received an RTA letter on August 6, in which the RTA sought the council's support to 'hold the subdivisions potentially affected by route options in abeyance until the future route options of the highway' have been determined.

"I don't believe the RTA can tell the council what to do. The council has the right to approve them," he said.

"It is now two months since the letter and still there is no resolution of the matter either from the RTA or council.

"The delays are very frustrating for me, but more importantly for the whole building and construction industry in Coffs.

"Many businesses and families in Coffs Harbour rely on development and building for their livelihoods and because this is taking so long, their future income is threatened.

"I am talking about carpenters, brickies, tilers, labourers as well as carpet, whitegoods and electrical retailers who are all eventually affected by the delay."

An RTA spokeswoman said an announcement on the Pacific Highway through Coffs Harbour would be made before the end of the year, as promised.

"We're still finalising the details of the announcement," she said.

Coffs Harbour City Council general manager Mark Ferguson said it was disappointing the issue was 'dragging on' because it was stifling growth in the city.

"It's a major issue for us," Mr Ferguson said.

He said the RTA, the 'peak body we need to consult', had asked the council to defer many development applications because of route options.

The council estimates 1600 properties in the city are directly affect- ed by route plans.



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