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South coast home-owners urge state intervention to save bushland


COMMUNITY GROUP DALMENY Matters has contacted The Hon Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, to ask for assistance in preventing the clearing of native bushland in light of the importance of unburnt habitat since the bushfires.

Eurobodalla Shire Council’s decision to sell public land in Dalmeny for clearing and development is starkly at odds with the vision and principles detailed in the South East and Tablelands Regional Plan.

Above: Elora and Rosella enjoying the native bushland at Dalmeny. Supplied by author.

CBRE Commercial Real Estate Sydney is currently listing the Council property on their website, highlighting what is in store.

‘CBRE is pleased to present this iconic land parcel positioned on the pristine headlands at Dalmeny, on the South Coast of NSW.
Key development highlights:
– Large freehold site of 414,400*sqm (102 acres)
– Zoned R2 Low Density Residential
– Minimum lot size requirement of 550sqm
Potential to clear and subdivide into housing lots (STCA)’

(It is unclear whether the use of the words ‘pristine headlands’ is intended ironically considering the native bushland is likely to be bulldozed.)

With Eurobodalla Shire Council also embroiled in controversial land development proposals for Tuross Head and Broulee, direction for the region set by the State Government seems to have been disregarded.

Eurobodalla Shire Council is required to follow the South East and Tablelands Regional Plan when making decisions about housing and land use. The Plan states that:

‘Rural residential housing in areas of intact bushland presents bushfire risks. The clearing for house sites, bushfire asset protection and associated infrastructure, particularly local roads, has led to high clearing rates.

Clearing associated with rural residential subdivision is currently the major source of vegetation removal in the South Coast and Southern Tablelands.’

Council wanting quick cash sale but what about endangered species, sustainability?

With the Council land parcel advertised in such a way it is clear that any environmental assessment of the site will occur only as a requirement of the development process, rather than to assess whether the land should be cleared and developed in the first place.

Would the presence of threatened plants or animals convince the Council to reconsider? Community members have already raised this issue with Council, with reports of Yellow- bellied Gliders, Glossy Black Cockatoos, Swift Parrots and Barking Owls living in the area.

A major feature of the Regional Plan is a need for more diverse housing options in already established centres, that meets the needs of an ageing population, whilst protecting the natural environment.

‘Focusing growth in existing centres rather than isolated land releases is a sustainable option because it takes advantage of existing job markets, commercial and retail opportunities, and infrastructure such as public transport.’

Any development proposals that are inconsistent with planning strategies must be able to demonstrate that they meet certain principles outlined in the Regional Plan. Considering that the land to be developed is part of the catchment for Mummaga Lake, Dalmeny Matters has significant doubts that Council would be able to demonstrate that the area is suitable for development. The Regional Plan makes specific reference to this:

‘Sensitive estuaries have been mapped as part of the region’s high environmental value lands. These estuaries and their catchments are particularly susceptible to the effect of land use development and are not suitable for intense uses such as housing subdivision.’

Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, has responded to Dalmeny Matters and other concerned members of the community who contacted his office prior to Council’s decision to sell. The Minister criticised the Council’s decision in comments to the Sydney Morning Herald on July 25th, that:

‘At a time when this government is giving out millions for councils to invest in public spaces, it seems tone deaf for a council to be selling pristine coastal bushland that’s already in public ownership’

Despite this strong initial statement, it is clear that Mr Stokes would prefer the matter be dealt with at a local level if possible. Sarah Lees, Director, Southern Region Local and Regional Planning, who responded on the Minister’s behalf, has told community members and Dalmeny Matters:

‘Although the sale of the land is a matter for Council, the Minister and the Department expect all Councils to carefully consider the sale of public land. This would involve balancing economic, social, and environmental impacts. As this is a matter for Council to manage at the local level, I would encourage you and members of your group to continue to raise your concerns with Council directly.’

Council so far avoids ‘carefully considering’ impacts, not least bushfire hazards

Council’s failure to ‘carefully consider’ the ramifications of this sale, especially in regards to the environment, that concerns Dalmeny Matters.

No background information was provided to Council prior to the vote regarding environmental impacts, risks associated with bushfire or flooding or evidence of how the proposed development would increase affordable housing or available rental properties.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has confirmed that the drafting of a development control plan for Dalmeny has begun although it is unclear exactly when the community will be given a chance to contribute or how meaningful consultation will be.

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