Peter and Sue Irvine were pleased the most recent proposal for the church land between Boronia and Honeysuckle Sts and Fourth Ave at Sawtell were rejected.
Peter and Sue Irvine were pleased the most recent proposal for the church land between Boronia and Honeysuckle Sts and Fourth Ave at Sawtell were rejected.

Latest church plans knocked back

A group of Sawtell residents fighting ongoing plans at the Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church were pleasantly surprised to hear their most recent proposal, which included clearing rainforest and building eight more units, was knocked back.

Some of those opposing the plans for the land between Honeysuckle and Boronia Streets attended a recent Coffs Harbour City Council meeting to urge councillors not to support the proposal on the land, one strip back from the beach south of the surf club.

Peter Irvine attended the meeting and says he was both ecstatic and a little surprised at the outcome. He admits the recent divisions over the Cultural and Civic Space with councillors voting along divided lines could have played a part in the decision.

“A number of our neighbours were also a little surprised. I’ve never been to a council meeting like that before and I know some councillors might have different reasons for voting the way they did,” Mr Irvine said.

“We thought it would be a tough gig - we suspected it would have gone against us. Most of the arguments against it were about the removal of the rainforest but council had no real say in that as the proposal involved biobanking but we were more concerned about parking and flooding.”

Biobanking is a form of offsetting where developers can remove vegetation by conserving it elsewhere.

The Littoral Rainforest back from the beach is listed as an Endangered Ecological Community.
The Littoral Rainforest back from the beach is listed as an Endangered Ecological Community.

But for nearby residents like Peter and Sue Irvine, who are building a house across from the church land, one of their main concerns was in relation to parking and potential flooding.

“Whenever there is a service or special event like a wedding people are parked all over the place; up and down the street and on the grass as we only have those spoon drains and this proposal would have removed a lot of that grass with the construction of more apartments.”

Mayor Denise Knight did not participate in the vote declaring an interest based on ‘relationships’. Cr Knight lives in Sawtell.

Councillors Sally Townley, Paul Amos, John Arkan and Tegan Swan voted to refuse consent while Crs Michael Adendorff, John Cecato and Keith Rhoades wanted to see it go ahead.

The proposal was ultimately defeated on the following grounds:

‘That it is an inappropriate bulk and scale for the site, in particular, that is not consistent with clause D3.8 of the Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015, which sets a maximum building length of 45m.’

The Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church was contacted for comment but did not return the Advocate’s call.



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