Letter to the Editor- Saturday, July 19:Development is doomed

I WAS taken by surprise to read the front page of the Advocate on Saturday, July 12.

My surprise was accompanied by palpably positive sensations upon learning that the developers proposing to fill wetlands around Hearnes Lake and build 200 houses won't be able to do this because they are in receivership.

If these developers had accorded with the planning intentions of Coffs Council and the wishes of the community and built the 30-35 houses on elevated land at the southern part of the property (that everyone was happy about), I daresay they would have some profits on the radar.

The article is concerning for two statements apparently attributable to council's general manager, Mr McGrath, notably that "if the land is sold before next December, it will be sold with a development approval in place" and the "dead-line can be extended if the owners can demonstrate substantial physical commencement".

These points require clarification as to the legal status of the concept approval granted under the notorious (and subsequently rescinded) Part 3A of the planning act.

Firstly, there is no "development approval" in place; it is a "concept approval" which essentially means the former Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, felt it was a good idea to build 200 houses on a coastal floodplain subject to inundation.

Secondly, the requirement for substantial physical commencement of works applies to consents granted by a planning authority (generally local councils or the NSW Government).

Before any building work can be done on the coastal floodplain surrounding Hearnes Lake, Coffs Council (or the State Government) must grant a consent. Most works undertaken without consent would likely represent a breach of the law.

I hope prospective purchasers of the defunct holdings of Sandy Shores take good note of these facts. Caveat emptor.


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