Sandy Shores uproar

PLANNING NSW says partial concept approval for the proposed Sandy Shores subdivision at Hearnes Lake represents a reduction of more than a quarter of what was sought by the developers.

The 49.56 hectare site is located 3km south of Woolgoolga.

It is bounded by Coffs Harbour Regional Park to the east, Sandy Beach to the south, the Pacific Highway to the west and Hearnes Lake and Double Crossing Creek to the north.

The developers want 280 lots. Coffs Harbour City Council and residents want 35 lots.

On December 20, Planning Minister Tony Kelly gave concept approval for up to 200 lots.

A statement from the Department of Planning said before any project approval was granted for the 60 lots proposed for Stage 5, the proponent would need to undertake further assessment of vegetation communities along the western boundary of that precinct, to determine appropriate environmental offsets.

The Deputy Director-General of the Department of Planning Richard Pearson, who has vigorously defended his Department’s handling of the planning process under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, said the proposal had reduced the footprint of the subdivision to about 30 per cent of the site.

He said land unsuitable for development within three precincts had been added to the conservation area and a direct connection to the Pacific Highway in the north-western corner of the site was also rejected.

He said 28 conditions and ‘a number of commitments by the proponent’ formed part of the approval.

The DoP says to ensure the development is not affected by flooding and sea level rises induced by climate change, they require the level of the perimeter road to be built up above the 3.6m predicted flood level for 2100. A further condition requires the floor level of habitable rooms in future homes to be built up a further 0.5m.

Planning NSW describes Sandy Shores as a $12 million development which will help meet a need for 19,200 new homes in the Coffs Harbour area by 2031.

Greens Coffs Harbour City Councillor Mark Graham, who asked the council on December 16 to investigate all options for legal appeal if the DoP approved a development of more than 35 lots on the site, says half of Sandy Shores will be under water by 2050 and the whole of the site submerged by 2100.

Cr Graham disputes Mr Pearson’s assertion that concept approval for the Sandy Shores development is consistent with the Mid North Coast Regional Strategy.

The strategy says ‘future urban developments will not be located in areas of high risk from natural hazards including sea level rise, coastal recession, rising water tables and flooding.’

“Why is a State Government bureaucrat misrepresenting his own agency’s policies and supporting a private development?’ Cr Graham said.

“The people of Coffs Harbour deserve answers particularly considering that we will be the ones picking up the pieces and footing the bill when this subdivision goes horribly wrong.”

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