John Doherty (left) and Cr John Arkan discuss their concerns over the upgrading of Fiddaman Rd at Emerald Beach.
John Doherty (left) and Cr John Arkan discuss their concerns over the upgrading of Fiddaman Rd at Emerald Beach. Trevor Veale

Row brews over beach road

A ROW is developing over who should be responsible for upgrading the main access to Emerald Beach.

Residents were expecting the cost of improving Fiddaman Rd to be borne by the developer of a seniors' living community which gained consent six years ago but is still years off being built.

The developer, however, no longer needs to access his project via Fiddaman Rd and is understandably not keen to hand over the $1 million needed.

According to community activist John Doherty, when Coffs Harbour City Council originally gave development consent to the seniors' facility on the corner of Fiddaman Rd and the Pacific Hwy, a condition was that the developer pay for pavement widening, kerb and guttering, stormwater drainage, the provision for bus stops and a 2m wide concrete footpath and cycleway through to the beach reserve.

However, in July the developer applied for a Section 96 variation, as the seniors' community will now have direct access from the highway. The variation did indicate, however, that the developer would still upgrade the footpath to a width of 1.2m, which was consistent with the existing walkway near the shops.

The problem as Mr Doherty sees it now, is that while the council had originally set aside $1 million to upgrade the road in the 2005 budget, with the consent approval for the seniors' living development, that money was rediverted.

“If the developer pulls out then no one is going to do it, that's the crux of the problem,” Mr Doherty said.

“We (the Emerald Beach community) have been very patient. All we are asking for is what was promised.

“It was a condition of consent. It seems to me you are changing the goalposts, so if you withdraw the conditions then the approval is no longer valid.”

Councillor John Arkan said he had been contacted by many people worried about safety along the busy road if the upgrade didn't go ahead.

He said public comment on the Section 96 variation request originally closed on August 18 but had now been extended until August 25.

The developer, meantime, is adamant it is unreasonable for the company to pay to fix Fiddaman Rd now that the centre would not have an entrance onto it.

He said now the road entrance to the village had changed position, he believed the nexus of obligation had changed, although he was still prepared to install a footpath as he believed residents would walk to the shops and the beach.

“We have no connection to Fiddaman Rd, end of story,” he said.

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