By DAVID MOASE
ROBERT Grant thinks the North Boambee Valley has everything to attract new residents.
Close handy are two of Coffs Harbour's top private schools, the health campus, playing fields, the education campus and a selection of beaches ? all of which can be accessed without passing through the CBD.
Apart from that, it is an attractive area with world-class views to the ocean.
It is now unlikely, however, that any more people will get to enjoy living in the valley, which is roughly bounded by North Boambee Road in the north and Englands Road to the south.
Coffs Harbour City Council has abandoned its plans to use the valley for residential expansion and tagged the area as an 'employment generating (industrial) investigation area'.
It is a development that has upset Mr Grant.
"It has always been more or less proposed to have residential development here and the residents always thought that would be the case," he said.
"Two or three weeks ago we found out the land is to be zoned industrial.
"This is such a beautiful area, to have it used for an industrial area would be a planning disaster."
Another Englands Road resident, who did want to be named, said the area was not suitable for industrial development.
"It's too hilly, you need flat ground for industrial sites," he said.
The change of tack by the council is a result of the RTA's plans to build a Pacific Highway bypass. According to Clyde Treadwell, the council's manager of strategic planning, the RTA's preferred IS1 route west of the existing highway cuts right through the area that had been earmarked for residential expansion.
"Since the 1980s the council has identified the North Boambee Valley area for potential residential expansion but the IS1 corridor has a major impact on those plans," he said.
"The State Government and the RTA have been indicating they would like to see the highway bypass as the western boundary of the city's residential development."
If IS1 goes ahead it will reduce the potential population of the area from about 9350 to about 4000, also cutting the amount of money that can be collected from developers to pay for infrastructure such as sewerage and playing fields.
"If residential development can't occur then an employment growth area is an option," Mr Treadwell said.
"Industrial development would give land owners similar returns to residential property, although it may take longer to realise."
The plan for the industrial zone will be one of the features of the council's draft settlement strategy, which will be on display for public comment later this year.