Plea for Hearns Lake


SANDY Hearns Action Group (SHAG) wants the State Government to intervene to delay the implementation of the Hearns Lake/Sandy Beach Development Control Plan.

SHAG member Wayne Evans wrote to NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor this week asking him to postpone the DCP, which was passed by Coffs Harbour City Council last week.

The DCP allows for approximately 502 lots between the existing Sandy Beach settlement and the southern boundary of Woolgoolga.

Mr Evans letter outlines a number of concerns about the latest planning instrument.

It calls on the minister to follow the lead of former minister Craig Knowles, who earlier this year rejected two development master plans for the Hearns Lake area.

"SHAG is extremely concerned about the handling of the Hearns Lake/Sandy Beach DCP by Coffs Harbour City Council and about a number of improper activities that have taken place in recent times in the area," the letter states.

It points out that the DCP was approved 'contrary to recommendations from the Department of Planning and the Department of Natural Resources'.

The council's City Business Units Committee report of December 1 is quoted as stating: "Both agencies have recommended the estuary management plan be finalised prior to the adoption of the DCP, regardless of the information and studies completed to date."

SHAG is also concerned by an increase in the number of lots since the first DCP, lack of council knowledge about water-sensitive urban design and the ability of the DCP's eastern precinct to sustain the 35 dwellings proposed.

The eastern precinct is currently being used to graze cattle, which SHAG wants to see removed in an attempt to protect potential habitat of the wallum froglet.

"SHAG believes the council has adopted the DCP prematurely in response to pressure from developers of land in the subject area," the letter states.

"The fact that your department has previously rejected two master plans for Hearns Lake because of their lack of due concern for the environmental integrity of the area adds credence to our claims.

"We therefore seek your assistance to force council to postpone the ... DCP until the completion of the estuary management plan and to review council's ability to impartially and diligently manage this area."

The council's director of planning, environment and development, Gina Vereker, told the council last week the estuary management plan would be ready in July 2006 and that it would be unlikely any developers' plans would be ready by then.

The Department of Planning would have to approve any master plans submitted by developers.

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