The new drainage pipes under the Pacific Hwy.
The new drainage pipes under the Pacific Hwy.

Council responds to business owners flooding concerns

BUNNINGS' huge new store in South Coffs Harbour is rapidly nearing completion in conjunction with drainage work at the intersection of North Boambee Rd and the Pacific Hwy, but local business people are worried that the combination of the two projects will worsen flooding in the area.

Among them are the owners of Coffs Harbour Marine, Annette and Mark Luttrell, whose shop previously occupied part of the Bunnings site and is now a near neighbour of the hardware giant.

Although they sell boats, they are not keen to find their spare parts floating about in the workshop, as has happened in past major floods.

They are also worried about the potential effect on other businesses in Cook Dr, Wingara Dr and on the nearby hospital.

"As a small business owner that is very close to the new Bunnings store I would like to know what measures have been put in place to deal with the future flooding potential," Mrs Luttrell said.

"I have discussed my concerns with the local planner and the only response I received from him was that Bunnings is a great new store and will not flood.

"That's great for Bunnings but what about the many small businesses that surround this area - the Pacific Hwy south of the site, Cook Dr, Wingara Dr and very importantly the hospital, where we all know too well the effect torrential rain and flooding has on the area.

"There have been three large pipes laid under the highway to cater for the stormwater that runs off the Lakes Estate, however that gushing water is now being disposed of directly into the waterway that runs into Newports Creek, which is so overgrown with shrubbery I'm not sure how it will cope with the amount of flow involved."

Coffs Harbour City Council this morning said the flooding issues associated with the new development were comprehensively addressed in the project's development application. 

The project was granted approval following extensive community consultation, a council spokesperson said. 

The council said in its consideration of the DA, a key concern was how to enable development of a flood affected site, while ensuring that the development did not have any significant disadvantages to nearby landowners. 

The spokesperson said this was achieved by requiring the Bunnings Development to be located above the 1:100 year flood level and requiring the developer to undertake infrastructure improvement works, including increasing the flood water conveyance through major storm water drainage construction. 

"The flood modelling and assessment indicated that the development of the site would result in in a range of benefits over a range of flood events with minor disadvantages mainly in the 1:100 year event for a limited number of properties.

"Benefits include reducing the flood levels and incidence of flooding associated with the more common 1:5 year and 1:10 year flood events. 

Annette and Mark Luttrell.
Annette and Mark Luttrell.

Mrs Luttrell has challenged Coffs Harbour City councillors to put her mind at rest or pay up when their premises are flooded and their insurance premiums increase yet again.  

Mr Luttrell wants to know what flood protection measures are planned for North Boambee Rd.

He said the replacement of water-absorbing swampland off North Boambee Rd with the Lakes Estate had caused a dramatic increase in runoff as stormwater cascaded off roofs and driveways and flooded the western side of the highway near KFC, but the highway had acted as a dam, protecting premises on the eastern side from the full impact of this water, which would now change with the installation of the drainage pipes.

Mr Luttrell said he was happy to see the economic boost and extra jobs Bunnings was providing, but his insurance premiums had already risen about 300% following the three floods of 1996 and 2009; the whole area was only just above sea level and the fill used to raise the floors of Bunnings was bound to alter runoff, even if all the rain which fell on Bunnings itself was able to be retained in a collection tank.

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