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CONCRETING OUR COAST

Most of us can’t imagine a future without our small beach towns: the turquoise water, fresh air, the village atmosphere and bushland full of wildlife. This is our shared heritage.

But up and down our coast, the NSW Liberal-National government has given developers the green light to bulldoze thousands of hectares of bushland for development. From Tura Beach on the far south coast to Kingscliff in the Tweed, inappropriate and unsustainable developments are being considered by councils and Regional Planning Panels. Alongside new approvals, old ones that have lain dormant for decades are springing back to life. Known as “Zombie” or “Legacy” development approvals (DAs) they’ve sidestepped current planning laws, including the need to undertake ecological and cultural heritage impact assessments. If they are allowed to go ahead, the cumulative impact of these developments will be devastating, resulting in thousands of hectares of coastal bushland being cleared. Bushland which, particularly after the Black Summer fires, is providing critical refuge for threatened species like koalas, Greater Gliders, glossy black cockatoos, swift parrots, Powerful Owls and many others.

Many of these developments are planned on floodplains and wetlands or in areas of high bushfire risk: places where we should not be building homes given the inevitable increase in severity and frequency of extreme weather events NSW faces due to the climate crisis. These small coastal villages also just don’t have the services and infrastructure to cope with a large increase in residents. Make no mistake, if these developments go ahead, they will do irreversible damage to our coastal towns and bushland environments that we all love so much.

The NSW Government is using the housing crisis to provide cover for their real agenda - lining the pockets of developers who just want to make a quick buck with scant regard for the communities and habitat they’ll destroy in the process. Building new suburbs in coastal bushland will do nothing to make housing more affordable for those who need it most. In fact, in many of the villages under threat up to two-thirds of existing housing lies vacant for much of the year, because they’re holiday lets.

We need reform to discourage this, not more housing for wealthy Sydneysiders to add to their property portfolios. The good news is that communities all along the coast are fighting back.

This report highlights some of those campaigns where local communities are putting up an incredible fight to stop developments and save their towns and local wildlife.

This report will connect the dots to show how the NSW planning system is allowing inappropriate and unsustainable developments to change the face of the NSW coast as we know and love it. The campaign to save our coastal villages and environment will only be won by coming together and sounding the alarm about this developer onslaught that is concreting our coast.

EXTINCTION CRISIS: THREATENED SPECIES AT RISK

Most of these coastal developments have one thing in common: the sites are crucial habitat for threatened species.

Koalas, Greater Gliders, Swift Parrots, Powerful Owls and Glossy Black Cockatoos call many of these sites home.

Along with Long-nosed Potoroos, Yellow-bellied Gliders, Eastern Pygmy Possums, Gang Gang Cockatoos, Barking Owls, Greyheaded flying-foxes, Wallum Froglets, Eastern False Pipistrelles, East Coast Freetail Bats, Mainland Dusky Antechinus’, Superb Lyrebirds, Pilot Birds, Mustard-Bellied Snakes, Little Bent-wing Bats, Large Bent-winged Bats,Greater Broad-nosed Bats and many more.

There are also several Endangered Ecological Communities at risk including Swamp Oak Forest and Bangalay Sand Forest, while at least one site is one of only three places in the world where a particular plant species grows: the Merimbula Star-Hair at Tura Beach. 

The Federal State of the Environment Report, released in July 2022, highlights Australia's shameful position as having lost more mammals to extinction than any other continent. It names habitat loss as a key driver of this crisis. The Black Summer bushfires burnt through more than 5 ½ million hectares of largely forested areas killing or displacing billions of native animals. 

It should have been our wake up call. We have to protect the habitat that’s left if we are to avoid some of the threatened species highlighted in this report going extinct.

building on the floodplains

2022 showed the catastrophic impacts of building in flood-prone zones now that the climate emergency is upon us. Between February and July, 98 LGAs across NSW were declared disaster zones due to flooding, and nine lives were lost.

The Inquiries that followed pointed not only to the impacts of climate change, but to the “unchecked and ill-planned development” that has led to the filling and raising of floodplains, the redirecting of waterways, overburdening of drainage systems, and reliance on unsafe locations for affordable housing. 

Residents of devastated areas, including in Lismore and the surrounding Northern Rivers and in Windsor and Richmond in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley, have questioned whether it is possible to recover and rebuild in the same location. As the NSW Flood Inquiry led by Mick Fuller and Professor Mary O’Kane reported, it’s clear that “too much [is] already built, being built or planned to be built in areas exposed to flood risk.”

But the development onslaught in areas that shouldn’t be built upon continues apace. developments are planned in areas at risk of flooding along the entire coast - across the low-lying land of the Northern Rivers and Clarence catchments,on wetlands at South West Rocks and in parts of the south coast.

This not only devastates wetlands and rivers and the species that live in them, but also puts massive pressure on the drainage system, often exposing existing homes to damage for the first time. 

The climate crisis must mean that no more housing can be built on floodplains. 

exposed to fire

Most of these coastal developments share another risk factor: fire.

Many are surrounded by bushland with only one road in and out of town. During the Black Summer fires of 2019-2020, many of the coastal communities mentioned in this report were fighting to protect their homes, or fleeing for their lives.

With the climate emergency upon us, building yet more houses in these fire-prone areas places even more communities at serious risk. 

Some of these bushland blocks at risk provided critical refuge for animals fleeing the catastrophic fires. In several cases, locals are horrified to find that land they fought for and miraculously saved from the fires is now under direct threat from clearing and development. Post-fire these precious patches of forest have become havens for wildlife and locals are desperate to protect these “Noah’s Ark” forests from the bulldozers.'

Threatened Species

Countless native plants and animals are threatened by these developments. We’ve chosen to highlight 6 iconic species at risk of extinction. This map shows some of the development sites where we know they are at risk.

Koala 

Where it lives

Eucalypt woodlands and forests, mostly on the NSW central, north and south coasts, as well as the southern and northern tablelands and Blue Mountains.

Why it’s threatened

Loss and fragmentation of habitat, vehicle strike, predation by feral and domestic dogs, koala disease, fire, heat stress, climate change

Conservation status

Endangered (NSW and Commonwealth)

South-eastern Glossy Black Cockatoo

Where it lives

Small remaining pockets of habitat throughout eastern NSW

Why it’s threatened

Loss of habitat, she-oak feed trees and nesting hollows due to development, logging, drought, fire and climate change

Conservation status

Vulnerable (Commonwealth); Vulnerable (NSW)

Greater Glider

Where it lives

Small remaining pockets of habitat throughout eastern NSW

Why it’s threatened

Loss of hollow-bearing habitat trees and due to land clearing, logging, bushfires and climate change

Conservation status

Endangered (Commonwealth); no NSW listing

Swift Parrot

Where it lives

Spends February to October on the NSW coast and south west slopes where eucalypts are flowering, with summer breeding grounds in Tasmania.

Why it’s threatened

Habitat loss due to clearing for residential and industrial development, agriculture and logging; drought; fire; climate change; competition with Noisy Miners and introduced bee and bird species

Conservation status

Critically endangered (Commonwealth); endangered (NSW)

Powerful Owl

Where it lives

Large sclerophyll forests in eastern NSW; now rare inland and decreasing in density on the coast

Why it’s threatened

Loss and fragmentation of habitat woodlands due to land clearing for residential development, agriculture and logging; loss of prey species including the Greater Glider

Conservation status

Vulnerable (NSW)

Coastal Emu (Population in NSW North Coast Bioregion and Port Stephens LGA)

Where it lives

Predominantly in open lowland habitats, including grasslands, shrubland, and open and shrubby woodlands. Formerly widespread in north-eastern NSW, the emu population has continued to contract and is now restricted to coastal and near-coastal areas between Evans Head and Red Rock. This endangered population is the last known population in northern coastal NSW.

Why it’s threatened

Loss and fragmentation of habitat due to urban, agricultural and rural development; fire; impacts of continued local extinctions, isolation of individuals and groups.

Conservation status

Endangered population (NSW)

a plan for developers, not the housing crisis

In response to the housing crisis, the NSW Government has set targets for 400,000 new homes to be built in NSW, 127,000 of them in regional areas. It’s clear that coastal bushland and communities will be sacrificed to achieve this goal. 

In October 2021, the Government established a Regional Housing Taskforce to “unblock and accelerate new housing capacity in regional NSW” and “fast-track the supply of shovel-ready land.” Nowhere in any of the Taskforce’s Terms of Reference, recommendations, or findings is the environment or sustainability mentioned. 

Incentives are being offered to councils that have been identified as “high-growth”, with a total pool of $30 million being handed out to speed up their assessments of development applications and rezonings. Eligible coastal councils include Ballina, Bega Valley, Central Coast, Eurobodalla, Kempsey, Lismore, Mid-Coast, Richmond Valley and Tweed Shire - places that are all seeing a significant uptick in development. 

In small towns with limited resources for infrastructure and services, these funds can be a strong incentive to approve new development applications, resulting in councils approving housing developments that are putting current and future residents at risk. Not to mention our precious Aussie wildlife. 

Exploiting the Housing Crisis

There is no doubt that NSW is in the midst of a housing crisis. Home ownership is rapidly declining, while soaring rents are forcing people out of their homes and towns and into homelessness.

People in regional coastal areas are especially struggling, with the median price of regional houses now over $800,000 and rents exploding by 30% or more. 

The NSW Government’s answer is to let developers build unaffordable houses in all the wrong places, while doing nothing to address the huge unmet demand for social housing and rental availability. 

The last census showed that 10 percent of Australia’s homes were lying empty, with 300,000 of these in New South Wales. Most of these homes were not available for rent: they were simply not being used.

Thanks to the proliferation of holiday rentals, the rate of vacancy in small coastal towns is stratospheric. On the south coast, villages within easy driving distance of Sydney have vacancy rates edging close to 70%. On the north coast, an ever-increasing number of short-term holiday lets is forcing up prices and driving out people who have lived in the area for decades.

So won’t these new developments fix that? Well, no. The evidence shows that, far from providing affordable housing to those in the community who need it like essential workers and young families, newly built homes are sold for current market value, often to people outside the local area. 

The narrative that we need new builds is a simplistic one that only serves the interests of developers, not local communities. It doesn’t tell us what kinds of houses are needed, where they should be built, who they will be sold to or for what prices.

Large housing developments in sensitive coastal areas won’t take the heat out of the housing crisis, but once the damage is done to our coastal villages and to threatened species habitat there’s no turning back.

zombie da's

In a large number of cases, the approvals for these developments were granted decades ago. They’ve been termed "zombie” or “sleeper” DAs because they’ve been lying inactive for years and have only recently been brought back to life.

Under current planning laws, development consents lapse after five years if works have not begun on the site. However, until recently an approval could be kept alive indefinitely by even minor works such as putting a stake in the ground. Development approvals granted before the laws were changed still remain valid, which means approvals as far back as the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s can still be activated and developed. 

This defect in our planning laws is now being exploited all over the state in villages like Culburra Beach, Manyana, Tuross Heads, Kingscliff and Tura Beach. Back when land was cheap, developers bought up massive bush blocks, sought approval for subdivisions and then waited.

At the time they were approved for development decades ago there was no requirement for environmental and cultural heritage impact assessments, let alone climate risk. These development consents were also given at a time when community values of environmental protection and custodianship for future generations were nowhere near as strong as they are now.  

Regardless of when these DAs were approved, it’s unacceptable that in this era of climate and ecological awareness, these developers get to avoid complying with current laws and community expectations.

With existing approvals in place and dodging most planning requirements the decisions about where and when to build are left up to the developer. These Zombie DAs allow developers to release land at a pace that maximises their profits while wrecking communities and the environment in the process.

In NSW, there are thousands of these DAs currently in progress or waiting to be resurrected.

communities fighting back

Our planning laws have eroded over time, meaning communities have less and less say in decisions that impact them. In most cases the community is being ignored and developments being approved despite all the risks and impacts discussed in this report.

The good news is, however, that communities are standing up, organising and pushing back. Up and down the coast resident action groups have formed to draw attention to the damage being done. They’re holding protests and town hall meetings, making videos, lodging submissions, documenting wildlife, speaking to the media, writing to their elected representatives, and if it comes down to it, standing in front of bulldozers. They’re not giving up, not until the last tree is saved.

And some of them are even winning (see the inspiring case study of the community who saved Scotts Head)!

In an effort to highlight the cumulative impact of these potential developments and allow coastal communities to share information and resources a statewide alliance has been formed. By connecting communities with common interests and goals, local resident action groups multiply the impact of their campaigns and also join together to demand that reform occurs at the state level.

By sharing resources, information and determination, communities are building a movement to stop the destructive developments threatening the NSW coast and to reform our planning laws to protect sensitive coastal environments and communities.

OUR CASE STUDIES

BEGA VALLEY COUNCIL - YUIN NATION

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Developer RCL Group purchased the land in 2011 and has approval to begin stage 13 of the Mirador Estate residential subdivision on Mirador Drive. This Zombie DA was approved in 1989. Bega Valley Council has confirmed that all further stages of the subdivision can take place without further community notification.


WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Construction equipment arrived at the site in June 2022. Clearing is set to begin at any time.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 10 hectares
  • This bushland is home to a range of endangered and threatened species of flora and fauna, including the endangered and endemic Merimbula Star-hair plant. It is full of hollow-bearing Bloodwood and Blackbutt eucalypt stands.
  • The area is mapped as a sensitive area on the NSW Biodiversity Values Map with 52 separate biodiversity values entries dating back to 25 August 2017 and as recent as 28 March 2022
  • The site was listed by Council as part of a protected riparian and watercourse zone connected to Back Lake
    Bega Valley Council listed it as a bushland heritage site in July 2021.

HABITAT FOR:

  • Yellow-bellied Gliders
  • Glossy Black Cockatoos
  • Gang Gang Cockatoos

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Save Tura Beach Biodiversity
  • Friends of CRUNCH

BEGA VALLEY COUNCIL - YUIN NATION

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
The developer was sold 43.6 hectares of bushland in Dalmeny from the Eurobodalla Council in September 2021 for residential development. The development area is zoned for R2 Low Density Residential which Council have confirmed won’t include affordable housing. Council is developing a masterplan and Development Control Plan (DCP) for three privately owned lots, which together total about 100 hectares.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Eurobodalla Shire Council has confirmed they will seek input from Dalmeny residents for guidance on the masterplan.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 43.6 hectares
  • Catchment zone for Mummaga Lake: Classified by the state government in 2002 as in need of ‘significant protection’
  • Old growth forests that capture carbon and maintain local weather systems
  • No study since 2019-2020 bushfires (which affected 80% of Eurobodalla Shire landmass yet left this proposed development site unburnt) to determine areas requiring additional protection to account for habitat and food source loss in other areas of the shire
  • Bushland that is home to a range of species of flora includingnative Fringe Lilies, Narrow Leaf Geebung, Blueberry Ash

HABITAT FOR:

  • Yellow-bellied Gliders
  • Glossy Black Cockatoos
  • Gang Gang Cockatoos

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Local Stakeholders
  • Dalmeny Matters

 

EUROBODALLA SHIRE COUNCIL - YUIN NATION

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
The last stage of an area approved for development, as part of the Broulee Biobanking Agreement 2014.

This proposed development would see 12 hectares of land cleared for an 80-lot residential subdivision surrounding Captain Oldrey Park (Lot 3 & 4 DP 1271181 and Lot 23 DP 127 4371, DA0493/22).

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Submissions to an updated development application closed in February 2022 with the application status listed as “Further Information Requested” What was intended to become community-owned land adjacent to the proposed development has already been cleared, despite being under consideration for purchase as an asset protection zone for the housing development.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 12 hectares
  • The site is the last local remnant of Bangalay Sand Forest, an Endangered Ecological Community
  • Flood risk: The height of the land on this flood-prone site must be increased considerably so that all buildings meet the acceptable Council flood level.
  • Loss of mature vegetation: The development will fell a number of the Broulee area’s tall mature trees (including the Bangalay and
  • Black Butt) that are estimated to be well over 100 years old.
  • 52 threatened species of plant, bat, bird, mammal and 2 endangered ecological communities, are known or likely to exist on the proposed development site

HABITAT FOR:

  • Gang Gang Cockatoos, whose local populations have declined by approximately 80% in recent years.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Broulee Mossy Point Community Association

 

EUROBODALLA SHIRE COUNCIL - YUIN NATION

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
This Zombie DA was approved in 1983 for 11.9 hectares of land to be developed for 60 residential homes. Developer McCloy Group lodged modification plans in 2020 to increase the number of lots to 76, and at the time of publication they are advertising 80 for sale.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
On 2 March 2022 Eurobodalla Shire Council granted development consent for the modified proposal, MDA0124/20. Subdivisions and buildings are expected to begin in late 2022.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 10 hectares
  • Endangered Ecological Communities: Major loss of Swamp Oak Forest covering most of the site, to create a Bushfire Asset Protection Zone and ensure "unobstructed water views" for new residents; damage to a delicate Saltmarsh wetland ecosystem as the site is immediately adjacent to one of NSW’s Intermittently Closed and Open Lakes and Lagoons (ICOLLs); possible damage to other EECs supported by the foreshore
  • Adjacent to Ecologically Endangered Communities including Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest and remnant Littoral Rainforest, wetlands, saltmarsh and seagrass beds which provide habitat for diverse fauna and at least 47 native bird species

HABITAT FOR:

  • Far Eastern Curlew
  • White-bellied Sea-Eagle
  • Black Swan
  • Hooded Plover
  • Pied Oystercatcher
  • Wilsonia Rotundifolia (endangered plant species)

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Protect Coila Lake’s fragile ecosystem
  • Tuross Head Progress Association

 

SHOALHAVEN CITY COUNCIL - YUIN NATION

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Ozy Homes received approval in 2008 for a 180-lot residential development on Lot 172 Cunjurong Point Road and 148 (Lot 823) Sunset Strip, Manyana which is three kilometres from Lake Conjola. Having received DA more than a decade ago, this 20 hectares of land has since become a critical refuge for wildlife after it was spared from the 2020 Black summer bushfires that left around 93% of the surrounding Conjola National Park burnt.

In 2020, the government’s attempt to buy the block of land due to environmental significance and add it to the National Park estate fell through.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
An environmental assessment is being conducted under the federal EPBC Act.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 20 hectares
  • Bushfire risk: The bushfire prone land makes it unfit for the proposed development which has little or no firebreak protection and no safe escape for residents in event of a fire approaching from a westerly direction. The broader area has one access road and limited firefighting facilities.
  • Stormwater risk: Proposal is deficient in stormwater management analysis
  • Environmental impacts: The proposed development sits upon land mapped as Critically Endangered Ecological Community (CEEC) which is considered irreplaceable and defined as a Significant and Irreversible Impact Entity (SAII). Additionally, it does not comply with the zone objectives for environmental management, Shoalhaven Local Environmental Plan and the Shoalhaven Development Control Plan.
  • Unaffordable and unaccessible housing: A large majority of housing in the proposal will become investment or holiday properties.
  • Insufficient infrastructure: The development proposal fails to address how doubling the community’s population will impact insufficient medical services and retail outlets.

HABITAT FOR:

  • Critically Endangered Scrub Turpentine
  • Critically Endangered Swift Parrot
  • Threatened Gang Gang Cockatoo, Powerful Owl
  • Southern Brown Bandicoot
  • Grey-headed Flying Fox
  • Large-bent winged bat
  • Endangered Greater Glider
  • Mainland Dusky Antechinus
  • Superb Lyrebird
  • Pilot Bird
  • Mustard-Bellied Snake

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Manyana Matters

 

SHOALHAVEN CITY COUNCIL - JERRINJA PEOPLE

At least four major developments have been given the go-ahead in a tiny patch of the Shoalhaven around Jervis Bay. Each of them will see hectares of delicate habitat cleared to make way for large-scale residential developments. Incredibly, they are all within 20km of each other.

The situation in this region is changing rapidly. As of October 2022, a Planning Proposal (PP-2021-406) for large-scale residential rezoning in the northern area around Callala Bay has been approved, opening up further land for the building of 400 additional homes. This land is owned by developer the Halloran Trust, which in total owns roughly 700 hectares of Shoalhaven land.

The current developments are in Culburra Beach, Callala Bay, Woollamia and Moona Moona Creek.

CULBURRA BEACH

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Sealark Pty Ltd, trustee company for the Halloran Trust, are developing the West Culburra Mixed Use Subdivision, a proposal for 293 homes across parts of Lots 5 and 6, Culburra Road. It is a State Significant Development (SSD 3846). This proposal is on the basis of a Zombie DA from 1985 that was brought back in 2010.

Development was originally refused in 2018 by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment due to the proposed development’s location on environmentally sensitive land that is home to endangered wildlife. The development has since been approved, despite the land being unburnt in the 2019 fires.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Following refusal by the Independent Planning Commission, the proposal was taken to the Land and Environment Court. It was approved on 1 December 2021, subject to the developer conducting formal consultations with the Jerrinja community, and demonstrating a “Nil or Beneficial Effect” on the water quality of the nearby Crookhaven River. If these conditions are met, the developer may apply to Council for DAs.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 50 hectares
  • Damage waterways: This area is on the banks of an important south coast waterway. Water run-off and soil erosion from the development into the Crookhaven River and estuary is a threat to marine life and the oyster industry which requires water purity.
  • Loss of native bushland habitat: This development threatens to destroy the remaining pocket of unburnt habitat spared during the Black Summer fires
  • Nonviable evacuation plan: Adding potentially three new housing estates to the one-road-in, one-road-out village will place a huge
  • risk to new and existing residents in an evacuation scenario.
  • Loss of culture: devastation for the Aboriginal community losing ties to the land
  • Implications for oyster farming - would result in a decline and possible contamination in the event of flooding

HABITAT FOR:

  • Glossy Black Cockatoo
  • Powerful Owl
  • Yellow-bellied Glider
  • Gang Gang Cockatoo

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Culburra Residents & Ratepayers Action Group
  • Jerrinja LALC
  • Burradise - Don’t go changin’
  • Lake Wollumboola Protection Association
  • Australia’s Oyster Coast Inc

CALLALA BAY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Developer Sealark Pty Ltd, the trustee company for the Halloran Trust, has planned for R1 general residential to develop 380 lots across 40 hectares of land. This is subject to various lots at Callala Bay and Kinghorne Point. The proposal (PP-2021-406) is part of an ad-hoc rezoning: it does not fall under the Jervis Bay Planning Strategy.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
As of October 2022, Gateway determination for the proposal (PP-2021-406) has been approved.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 40 hectares
  • Bushfire protected habitat - With 85% of surrounding forests in Shoalhaven having burnt during the 2019/20 bushfires, this spared area has now become a habitat for threatened and non-threatened species
  • Ecological concerns of development - contaminated runoff to Callala Creek which is an important habitat and fish breeding area
  • Water quality in the adjacent Wowly Creek could be impacted, and would require extensive work to widen and deepen the channel.

HABITAT FOR:

  • Greater Glider
  • Yellow-bellied Glider
  • Eastern Pygmy Possum
  • Powerful Owl
  • Glossy Black Cockatoo
  • Gang Gang Cockatoo
  • Greyheaded Flying-fox
  • Bauer’s Midge Orchid

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Save Callala Beach
  • Callala Environmental Alliance

MOONA MOONA CREEK

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
The development approval for 4 Murdoch Street was received in 2010 and was sold to new developers in 2019. The site is flood prone with the proposed development likely to discharge stormwater overflow into the nearby Moona Moona Creek and Jervis Bay Marine Park sanctuary zone and bordering Jervis Bay National Park.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Clearing began in October 2021 and stopped shortly after due to the presence of nesting Gang Gang Cockatoos . A new design was submitted to council in February 2022 requesting to modify the original DA to increase the number of units from 32 to 38 by reducing apartment size.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be impacted 1.2 ha

HABITAT FOR:

  • Gang Gang Cockatoo
  • Black Glossy Cockatoo
  • Blackbutt and Banksia
  • Sulphur crested Cockatoo
  • Crimson Rosella
  • Rainbow Lorikeet
  • Musk Lorikeet
  • King Parrot

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Our Future Shoalhaven

WOOLLAMIA

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Allen Price & Associates are the developer for a 12 lot subdivision for Lot 14 Edendale St Woollamia, on the edge of Jervis Bay. This Zombie DA (SF7946) was approved in 1996.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
As of September 2022, the developer has successfully cleared the 12 building lots leaving only a few trees to define the boundary of each lot. Locals witnessed animals in distress on the site, and the woodchipping of heritage trees. Community groups are now opposing a works permit from the Jervis Bay Marine Park Authority to approve roadworks through the estuary.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 2 hectares
  • The site supports Bangalay Sand Forest, an Endangered Ecological Community, and several tall, mature, hollow-bearing habitat trees, each between 150 and 300 years old.
  • The site is a floodway and flood storage area that flooded three times in 2022; new homes will be vulnerable and building will displace flood waters onto more than 50 existing nearby homes.
  • There is only one way in and out via a single-lane bridge, posing a fire and flood evacuation risk.
    Access roadworks are planned through an adjoining tidal estuary, which is rich habitat for marine life and flows into local wetlands.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Our Future Shoalhaven

MID COAST COUNCIL - WORIMI LAND

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Mungo Developments Pty Lty submitted DA2022/0834 to Council in early August 2022, with development plans to establish a 437 lot caravan park on the beach side at 288 Mungo Road, comprising of 342 short term lots and 95 reserved for occupation under the Holiday Park (Long Term Casual Occupation) Act. With plans to be marketed as a “bushland retreat”, the concept for the 15.03 hectare lot holds a large focus on short term tourist accommodation and does not seek approval for long term sites and via association permanent residents.

The location previously has received approval for a caravan park however the grant has since lapsed.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Currently in the Exhibition period. The Council is welcoming public submissions until 10th of October 2022.


WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 8.69 hectares
  • Bushfire prone land: the development area is situated in bushfire prone land making it an irresponsible area for development of medium density accommodation, especially with regard to the limited access in and out.
  • Ecology: 7.56 ha of native vegetation will be directly affected and a further 1.37 ha will be indirectly affected (secondary stormwater detention area).

HABITAT FOR:

  • Koala
  • Squirrel Glider

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Hawks Nest Development FaceBook Page

 

MID COAST COUNCIL - WORIMI COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
This enormous development would see the clearing of 100 hectares of beachfront bushland in North Tuncurry, between Lakes Way and Nine Mile Beach, now known as the North Tuncurry Urban Release Area. Developer Landcom has applied for the rezoning of 615 hectares of Crown Land over the next two decades, and put forward a proposal to develop a 100 hectare portion of the area.

Landcom’s plans include 2,100 low- and medium-density dwellings expected to accommodate 4,500 new residents, as well as a new town centre, golf course, more than 6 hectares of open space parkland and a new 13-hectare industrial precinct.
The state-led rezoning would require the Minister for Planning to amend the Great Lakes Local Environmental Plan 2014, and the Department of Planning and Environment is the planning authority for the application. MidCoast Council will then be responsible for assessing development applications for construction on the site.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
The Department of Planning and Environment is currently conducting a Rezoning Study. Public submissions on the rezoning application have closed. Following a response from Landcom, the Department will finalise its report and make a recommendation to the Minister on whether the rezoning should proceed.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 100 hectares, with potential for more
  • The Biodiversity Certification report delivered to the Department of Planning and Environment notes the presence on the site of at least 15 threatened species, including the Tuncurry Midge Orchid, a critically endangered species known only in a small area immediately around the planned development site north of Tuncurry.
  • While this development is being widely promoted as a solution to local housing pressures, only 10% of the planned dwellings are designed to be affordable.
  • There are significant concerns about the pressures on services and infrastructure that will be created by the impacts of increasing the local population by roughly 20% including traffic congestion on the single 631m bridge connecting Tuncurry to Forster.

HABITAT FOR:

  • Green Turtle
  • Pied Oystercatcher
  • Brush-tailed Phascogale
  • Eastern Pygmy-possum
  • Eastern Osprey
  • Little Lorikeet
  • Squirrel Glider
  • New Holland Mouse
  • Eastern False Pipistrelle
  • Eastern Blossom Bat
  • Little Bentwing-bat
  • Eastern Bentwing-bat
  • Eastern Freetail-bat
  • Greater Broad-nosed Bat
  • Grey-headed Flying-fox.

 

MID COAST COUNCIL - WORIMI COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Development company Bayline was granted consent in 2020 to construct 292 independent living units at 56 Manor Road, Harrington. The plans will accommodate 500 people over 55 and/or with disability.

The site is extremely vulnerable to fire, surrounded by Vegetation Category 1 and Category 2 bushfire-prone land and therefore inappropriate as a residence for hundreds of people with disability and mobility problems. Locals question why it was considered compliant with the State Environmental Planning Policy (Housing for Seniors or People with a Disability) 2004 section 25(5b), and the relevant RFS Planning for Bushfire Protection 2006, which were applicable at the time of the consent.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Land in-filling has begun as of October 2022. Construction is imminent.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 21 hectares
  • Fire danger: The site lies directly opposite Crowdy Bay National Park and is surrounded by fire-prone bushland. In 1989 this site was entirely consumed by fire, and in 2019 the massive local fire began immediately opposite the site. The site’s fire vulnerability is escalating over time, as evidenced by the burning of nearby fire-resistant Melaleucas in 2019.
  • Access: There is no through-road fire truck access so much so that neighbours have felt compelled to buy their own fire-fighting equipment. During the 2019 fires an elderly couple residing in a nearby caravan park could not be evacuated with other residents.
  • There is clearly an unacceptable level of risk in evacuating those with limited mobility.
  • Flood vulnerability: The site lies next to the Manning River and some parts of the property require in-fill to reach minimum elevation requirements. Potential for flooding also poses problems for evacuation of vulnerable residents.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Concerned Citizens of Harrington

 

MID COAST COUNCIL - WORIMI COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
361 Blackhead Road is a 10.63 hectare area of designated koala habitat in Hallidays Point. After possessing a 20 year DA from 2004 (123/2004/DA/B) for an aged care facility, the DA was modified and approved in May 2022 for a retirement village consisting of 96 dwellings and a 104 bed nursing home, which has now been listed by Sotheby’s and is accepting expressions of interest.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Received development approval and now accepting expressions of interest.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 10.63 hectares
  • High bushfire risk: The area is a high bushfire risk zone that was heavily impacted by the Black Summer fires in 2019/2020 and requires total land clearing and removal of over 500 trees to comply with bushfire safety
  • Inadequate infrastructure: Only one road out in the case of an emergency/bushfire and nearest hospital or ambulance service is over 25 kilometres away

HABITAT FOR:

  • Koala
  • Phascogales
  • Microbats
  • Squirrel Glider
  • Spotted Tail Quolls.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Hallidays Point Community Action Group

 

PORT MACQUARIE HASTINS COUNCIL - BIRPAI COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
The McCloy Group have proposed to develop up to 241 Serviced Self Care Housing Units/Independent Living Units across Lot 4 DP 844371 and part Lot 1 DP 1018270 on Bonny View Drive (corner of Ocean Drive). The development is planned to clear over 21 hectares of a 118 hectare block that was sold in late 2020.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
The Site Compatibility Certificate was refused by the Northern Region Planning Panel who have allowed the McCloy Group to resubmit to the Panel if they satisfy concerns regarding ecological and servicing factors.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 21 hectares
  • Proposed development area - floodplain/swamp area which acts as a flood regulator
  • Insufficient road infrastructure - current road systems barely cope with present levels of traffic, meaning future development would completely overwhelm roads/public transport systems
  • Insufficient sewerage system - the sewerage system is already at full capacity and regularly overflows into nearby creeks and ocean streams when experiencing moderate rainfall.
  • Insufficient services available - the local doctors and medical centre is currently unable to support the community’s existing population, with the introduction of this development (a fourth senior living/aged care facility located on Ocean Drive) only adding to the strain on unavailable medical services.

HABITAT FOR:

  • Koala
  • Swift Parrot
  • Powerful Owl
  • Echidnas
  • Kangaroos
  • Wallabies
  • Wallum Froglet
  • Black-necked Stork
  • Little Lorikeet
  • White-bellied Sea-Eagle
  • Eastern Coastal Free-tailed Bat
  • Little Bentwing-bat
  • Large Bent-winged bat
  • Southern Myotis
  • Yellow-bellied Glider
  • Squirrel Glider
  • Brush-tailed Phascogale
  • Grey-headed Flying-fox.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Bonny Hills Progress Association
  • Save Bonny View FB Group

 

KEMPSEY SHIRE COUNCIL - DUNGHUTTI COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Consent was granted for an 180-unit tourist resort on this site (Lot 2 DP1091323 on Phillip Drive) in 1993. Consent lapsed for this project in the mid to late 1990s but the developer, Rise Projects, has sought to begin construction on the Zombie DA since 2021 challenging the lapsing of the DA in the Land and Environment Court and even erecting fencing.

The plans will see 4.8 hectares of wetland cleared for a mixed-used residential development called “The Rocks”, including 30 townhouses, 26 apartments, communal amenities and shops and cafés.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
In 2021 Kempsey Shire Council refused a construction certificate on the basis that the 1993 DA had lapsed. The developers appealed in the Land and Environment Court, but in March 2022 the decision was upheld.
Rise Projects has now submitted a new DA for the site to Council. As this report was going to print, the developer began removing vegetation from the site.


WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Area to be cleared: 4.82 hectares
  • Flood risk: The site is a low-lying wetland and floodway. The need to bring in fill to reach the required height for development is likely to place further pressure on an already overburdened water table, pushing water into existing residences.
  • There are also concerns that groundwater could be contaminated by Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) from the nearby decommissioned Caltex fuel terminal. These have been detected nearby.
  • Several hollow-bearing trees will be cleared if the development goes ahead.

HABITAT FOR:

  • threatened Wallum Froglets
  • Eastern False Pipistrelle
  • Feathertail Glider
  • Sugar Glider
  • East Coast Freetail Bat
  • Little Bent-wing Bat
  • Large Bent-winged Bat
  • Greater Broad-nosed Bat.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Voices of South West Rocks

 

COFFS HARBOUR CITY COUNCIL - GUMBAYNGGIRR COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Red Rock is a tiny hamlet north of Coffs Harbour, surrounded by large areas of bushland and bordered by Solitary Marine Park to the east and 60 km of Yuraygir National Park to the north. Residents have maintained low levels of development, opposing the installation of town water and sewerage, and aim to be a sustainable community.

The proposed site, 400m from the village, was once a wetland but has been drained. For three decades the landowner has sought and been refused consent for large-scale tourist developments, including a golf course and marina. They have now proposed a development (1166/21DA) for a “primitive camping” ground, which they have amended and reduced several times in order to secure a consent.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
The DA was approved by Coffs Harbour City Council despite not meeting the requirements of the zoning. The supporting councillors based their vote on a verbal agreement by the property owners that they would meet the conditions for the development that council previously set. Council is currently working towards establishing guidelines for “primitive camping” within the LGA, but these have not yet been approved.


WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Plans for the development include retaining walls, fountains, bridges and drainage that would significantly impact on local vegetation.
  • The proposed campgrounds will be unsupervised, posing threats to the local ecology through the introduction of open fires and domestic pets.
  • Fire: The site has high bushfire vulnerability, with only one access road and close proximity to fire-prone vegetation in Yuraygir National Park.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Red Rock Preservation Society

 

CLARENCE VALLEY COUNCIL - YAEGL COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council (BGLALC) alongside Developer Stevens Group received a DA in 2019 to develop a 140 lot residential development located on Hickey Street, Iluka (Lot 99 on DP823635). This has since been modified to 145 lots. The development will see the clearing of 40 hectares of land.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?

As of October 2022, construction phase is underway and the first slabs have been poured.

The developer has made an approach to Council about including within the site’s boundaries a smaller parcel of adjacent land, which is covered by Native Title and could be developed with up to 50 additional dwellings if approved.
WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 40 hectares
  • Limited infrastructure, resources and services - the town has no doctor and very little infrastructure which would be unable to support this increase in population and would hinder evacuation in the event of bushfires or floods.
  • 13.76 ha of vegetation: The development plans will impact the area’s residing species clear of over 70% of the area’s threatened species habitat.

HABITAT FOR:

  • Glossy Black-Cockatoo
  • Koala, Coastal Emu
  • Yellow-bellied Sheathtail-bat
  • Varied Sittella
  • Acacia Disparrima
  • Pink Bloodwood

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Iluka DA Have Your Say

 

CLARENCE VALLEY COUNCIL - YAEGL COUNTRY

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
After experiencing extreme flooding in 2022, Yamba is facing multiple developments that will fill in flood prone land exacerbating flood risks for the rest of the community and place even more pressure on emergency services in future floods.

The West Yamba Urban Release Area is located on a 127 hectare site a few hundred metres South of Yamba road that was rezoned in 2010 by Clarence Valley Council. Most of the land is currently zone R1 general residential with developers seeking approval to build up to 1,500 residential lots which will see more than 270,000 truckloads brought in to fill flood prone areas. As of November 2022 161 lots over 3 stages, 193 manufactured home 53 seniors units and 2 lot subdivision (fill and construction not started) have all been approved.


The Park Avenue Retirement Village proposal is located on a 6.6 hectare lot on the northern side of Yamba Road (Lot 101 DP1228576, No. 8 Park Avenue, Yamba). The area had previously received approval in 2002 for wetland and floodplains to be filled up to 2.8 metres.
The Northern Regional Planning Panel approved an increase to 3.1 metres and the construction of dwellings upon flood prone land in October. This is despite an independent peer review of Yamba’s Flood Emergency Management Plan found it does not account for climate change and therefore did not account for the peak flood levels the site will experience.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Hometown Park Ave has approval from the NRPP for more fill, 136 ‘moveable’ homes and clubhouse. The infilling of land has begun despite a lack of a masterplan (including stormwater drainage. Local residents are calling for a moratorium on landfilling and further development until the plans can be assessed.


Four developments on the West Yamba floodplain have been approved with three sites continuing to be filled while one is yet to commence. One site already filled continues to seek approval for a 295 lot subdivision. Orion Drive Palm Lake Resort is fast being filled for construction for 78 Seniors homes and clubhouse.


WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Approximate area to be cleared: 133.65 hectares
  • Flood-prone: The site is extremely flood-prone. Infilling to raise the height has displaced stormwater, which pools around the development and has already contributed to the flooding of previously unaffected nearby homes. The lack of a sufficient stormwater management plan is of significant concern to many in the community, especially following the severity of the 2022 floods.
  • Catchment of Lake Wooloweyah: Lake Wooloweyah catchment is a crucial part of the area and is listed by the Healthy Rivers Commission as being under significant threat.
  • Insufficient road infrastructure: With only one access road to the town, the increase in population posed by these developments will increase traffic and place severe stress on disaster evacuations.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Clarence Environment Centre
  • Clarence Valley Conservation Coalition
  • Clarence Valley Watch Inc
  • Keep Yamba Country
  • STOP THE FILL YAMBA
  • Yamba Community Action Network,

 

BEGA VALLEY COUNCIL - YUIN NATION

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
West Byron Site split into two DA’s; one from Villaworld/Tower Holdings and other a group of ‘local landowners’ called Site R&D.

Having bought the land located off Ewingsdale Road in 2014, Developer Tower Holdings plan to develop ‘Harvest Estate’ over a 61 hectare block comprising 149 dwellings built by either Brighton Homes or Metricon. This was reduced from a 300 lot after the plan by Tower Holdings/Villaworld was rejected by the Byron Shire.


Site R&D plans to subdivide 162 lots including 25 ‘super-lots’, 20 of which are indicated to subdivide into 208 smaller lots.
The Northern Rivers Planning Panel (NRPP) had previously rejected the application in 2019 after deeming the area unsuitable for proposed development due to identified constraints of acid sulphate soils, bushfire vegetation, flood-prone land, high environmental value vegetation, koala habitat and threatened flora and fauna.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
In March 2022 the NSW Land and Environment Court determined in favour of the site development. The first release of Tower Holding’s ‘Harvest Estate’ lots are currently for sale/auction.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Area Impacted: 108 hectares
  • Flood-prone site: The development land is situated on flood-prone land that has recently experienced extreme levels of flooding, a key reason behind the DA’s rejection in 2019.
  • Housing affordability: No guarantee the development will offer affordable housing
  • Strain on road infrastructure: No plans to update road infrastructure to accommodate additional residents.

HABITAT FOR:

  • Koala
  • Wallum froglet
  • Wallum Sedge-Frog

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Byron Residents’ Group
  • Byron Bay Vision

 

TWEED SHIRE COUNCIL - GOODJINGBURRA AND MINYANGBAL COUNTRY, BUNDJALUNG NATION

DEVELOPMENT PROFILE
After being rejected by the council. developer Gales Holdings received approval from the Land and Environment Court in 2008 to fill flood prone land north and south of Turnock St for urban development and construct a temporary haul road under DA 05/0004.03. It later received approval to increase the length of the haul road underDA20/0860 though they have not yet commenced these works.

The proposed Gales ‘Masterplan’ across Kingscliff, Chinderah and Cudgen, would see the construction of 2100 new dwellings, parklands, business and education precincts, and an expansion of Kingscliff town centre across 214 hectares of land.

WHERE IS IT UP TO?
Gales Holdings is continuing to work with Tweed Shire Council to achieve planning approval after its masterplan was rejected by the Regional Planning Panel in September 2021 due to concerns about ecology and height.
The local community is calling for a halt to all flood prone land development until at least the recommendations of the flood inquiries have been implemented and the completion of other related work such as the Northern Rivers Resilience Initiative.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

  • Habitat for threatened species including Koala and Wallum Froglet.
  • Flood risk: The development is proposed to be built on a low-lying, flood-prone area that has recently experienced significant flooding
  • Traffic congestion: An increase in trucks entering the site will introduce significantly negative impacts on the community and people all along the coast including traffic congestion, noise, dust and road degradation.

WHO’S FIGHTING IT?

  • Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association Inc
  • Chinderah District Residents Association Inc
  • Tumbulgum Community Association Inc

 

 

HOW TO SAVE OUR COASTS

It’s clear that the NSW planning system is failing communities and the environment and needs serious reform. Below are steps that the NSW Government must take to stop the developer onslaught wrecking our precious coasts forever and to restore faith in the planning process.

Coastal communities are calling for a moratorium on coastal development until the NSW Government has taken steps to:

Protect Coastal Environments

By prohibiting roads and developments that impact ecologically sensitive environments including Threatened Species Habitat and Endangered Ecological Communities and adding ecologically sensitive land to the protected area network. 

Consider Climate Change

By assessing and mapping areas vulnerable to floods, bushfires and sea level rise now and in the future and prohibiting development in those areas while resourcing and requiring local council’s to develop and update master bushfire and flood plans for their LGA.

Ensure Infrastructure and Services are in Place

The Government must place requirements for adequate infrastructure and services before new housing developments can be built.

Put Power Back in the Hands of Local Communities

By scrapping Regional Planning Panels and placing development approvals back into the hands of local councils, with joint council planning decisions over inter-regional developments.

Clean up Local Councils

By banning property developers and real estate agents from sitting on council, strengthening disclosure requirements for counsellors and giving whistleblower protections to council staff to ensure councils make the best decisions for their community.

End Zombie Development Approvals

By forcing existing Development Approvals over 5 years old to be reassessed through the planning system with inappropriate approvals forced to redesign, take a land swap or receive compensation where appropriate.

Assess the Cumulative Impacts of Development

The Government must require councils to develop LGA Master Plans that properly assess the cumulative impacts of development on ecologically sensitive coastal ecosystems including threatened species habitat.

Make Ecological Assessments Transparent and Independent

By making developers use independent ecological assessors provided by the department instead of being able to shop around for experts that enable development.

Reign in Short Term Holiday Lets

By giving councils the power to regulate and limit short term holiday lets, freeing up regional housing stock.

ThankS

It is with deep gratitude to the communities of coastal NSW that we publish this report. Every site study here has been brought to my attention by locals who have been campaigning hard for change, in many cases for years.

Without your passion for your local environment and wildlife, your devotion to your community and your determination, these inappropriate and destructive developments will go ahead unhindered. It is only because of you that there is any hope they can be stopped.

We will keep working with you until every one of these sites is protected and we get the sensible planning reforms NSW so urgently needs to protect communities and our precious environment.


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