Residents rally against planned housing estate
NORTHERN Beaches residents opposed to the Sandy Shores North housing development said they face the 'mother of all bureaucratic doublespeak.'
The residents group Sandy Beach Action Group (Sandbags) is concerned about the impact the proposed estate would have on nearby Hearnes Lake.
Rallying on the beach on Saturday, the residents group said it is being told that 'demolition' can actually mean 'start of construction' while being led to believe that 'start of construction' does not necessarily mean work has begun.
"Tired with a lack of transparency and confronted by mountains of technical information and official gibberish, the residents of Sandy Beach are calling on the NSW Planning Minister, Anthony Roberts, to come good with the promise of an independent review of the controversial housing development," Sandbags spokesman Peter Quiddington said.
A development application for the estate is currently before Coffs Harbour City Council, with the decision likely to be made by the State Government's Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Dr Quiddington said locals had returned from their holiday break to find out they only have until February 9 to respond to the development proposal.
He said its now hoped the period for responses would be extended to early March following appeals to the council.
"In late 2017, it was unclear to residents if the developers had met the condition of having to 'start construction' before December 20, that year, in order for the Concept Approval to remain valid," he said.
"There was no sign of construction on the site. However, Coffs Harbour City Council has acknowledged the start of construction condition was met by the demolition of two houses in Pine Crescent in mid 2017, which provided access to the site.
"To most observers, 'start construction' would suggest that work had actually begun on the site.
"One requirement (on the developer) is the allocation of six hectares of high environmental value land on the eastern side of the area, to the Coffs Harbour Regional Park.
"But, there is no evidence that this land has been designated.
"This is just one condition that is supposed to be met 'prior to any construction'."
He said negotiations have been under way with the board of Regional Parks and NSW National Parks, but these reportedly have not been concluded and don't appear to be progressing rapidly.
"There was a sigh of relief when the Sandy Beach Action Group (Sandbags) was shown correspondence from August last year stating that the Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts, had called for a review by the independent Planning Assessment Commission," Dr Quiddington said.
"The review was triggered by the fact that there had been a large number of submissions from residents to the Department, over the most recent modification (Mod 5) to the Concept Approval, submitted by the proponent in mid-2017," he said.
At a public meeting in June 2017, many residents first became aware that the development was now back on track, and so began sending in submissions, mostly objecting to the development.
"While the community is given a strict time period, usually thirty days, to respond to any changes, or modifications to Concept Approvals, there is no such requirement on the developer to respond to issues raised," he said.
"And, nor is there any requirement on the Minister to have a proponent respond, so that a date for a promised independent assessment can be set.
"As a result, this matter has drifted, and none of the community's concerns have been addressed."