Developer Stephen Walsh at the South Urunga site where he plans to establish a 400-lot housing estate.
Developer Stephen Walsh at the South Urunga site where he plans to establish a 400-lot housing estate. Janine Watson

Hundreds of homes to be built at South Urunga

EARMARKED for residential development for decades now, South Urunga will soon see the construction of a 400 lot housing and retirement estate.

Local developer Stephen Walsh is behind the $160,000 project, which takes in the 239 lot subdivision which was approved by the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) on April 27, 2016.

It will be located on the western side of the old highway to the south of the Big Honey Pot.

Since retiring to Coffs Harbour in 1985 he has developed hundreds of rural and residential blocks across the region at locations including Moonee, Woolgoolga, Coffs Harbour and Bellingen.

He estimates he has developed at least 700 lots and built 300 homes.

"I don't need to do it any more, but I get bored," he laughed.

An application to modify the original 239 lots approved by the JRPP in 2016 was lodged with Bellingen Shire Council on July 26, 2017, to increase the number of lots to 270, and to provide road connectivity to an adjoining land parcel to the north.

This was approved by Council on February 16, 2018.

Since then additional applications have been lodged on an adjoining land parcel to the north of the original site.

One of these applications is proposing an additional 17 lots on the western part of that land and another is proposing an additional 24 lots on the eastern part of that land and approval to build a dwelling on each of the 24 lots.

These applications are yet to be determined as council is awaiting the submission of additional information.

"South Urunga has been zoned for residential development for decades and it is encouraging to now see a number of development applications moving through the planning process, and new lots potentially coming onto the market in the near future," Deputy General Manager Operations of Bellingen Shire Council Matt Fanning said.

In recent months Mr Walsh had the opportunity to purchase more land to the south of the land already approved for development, and there he plans to build a further 110 dwellings which will be smaller lot (minimum of 400 sq metres) retirement homes.

Frustrated with delays

These days he prefers dealing with Bellingen Shire Council as he says that in the past 12 months or so it's become increasingly difficult to deal with Coffs Harbour City Council.

At one site he is developing in the vicinity of Rovere Drive, Coffs Harbour, he says delays in the approval process have set him back many months and cost him tens of thousands of dollars.

"I was held up for around four months and it has cost me about $50,000 in new conditions. I'm on to the third or fourth list of new things to comply with. I can normally work things through with the councils I deal with but in my 35-plus years of development I've never come across anything like this."

Coffs council denies this is the case saying, in relation to Rovere Drive, that a construction certificate for this development, which allows work to begin, was issued on July 5.

"Prior to that, there was regular contact between the applicant - a consultancy firm employed by Mr Walsh to run the project - and council staff during May, June and July regarding outstanding civil works. Such discussions are not uncommon in a development of this nature and they were resolved either in or around seven working days each time," a council spokesperson explained.



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