Cabarita residents have launched their own plan for development projects for their coastal village which strongly reject a proposed controversial caravan park and housing estate.
The projects identified as better alternatives than the contentious developments being pushed by councillors in their role as Tweed Coast Holiday Parks Reserve Trust include walking trails, boardwalks and viewing platforms, the creation of a surfing reserve, a coastal environment education facility and more parks and barbecues.
The Cabarita Beach/Bogangar Residents’ Association’s final report on its community plan says those projects have greater support among locals than the 230-site van park and 37-lot housing estate on environmentally sensitive beachfront land south of Norries Headland, which ‘a majority of local residents and businesses do not support’.
Association spokesman Ashley Baldry told councillors this week they were the main findings of a major community consultation by Griffith University researcher Dr Kerrie Foxwell-Norton, a local resident.
Mr Baldry said Tweed MP Geoff Provest had congratulated the residents in producing a ‘a positive development plan for the area’.
In her report, Dr Foxwell-Norton said the community plan ‘gave everyone in Cabarita Beach/Bogangar and elsewhere a chance to have their say on local development issues and they did so in numbers not seen by other consultation processes’.
The report showed that 80 per cent of businesses did not support the caravan park and housing development, contrary to claims by the reserve trust that 90 per cent of businesses backed them.
But Cr Kevin Skinner told Mr Baldry that he had letters signed by 50-odd business people supporting the caravan park project and was concerned businesspeople were ‘not given a voice’ in the process.
Mr Baldry replied that a business liaison officer would be appointed as part of a new independent community and economic development committee, a key recommendation of their plan, to liaise with council and other government agencies.
Ironically, the chairman of the new committee, representing a wide range of community groups including sports clubs and the local school, is local businessman Nick Aldridge, the former head of the village’s business association, whose entire executive resigned before Christmas.
The final report says, ‘the local community is clearly not ‘anti-development” but were ‘keen to present and consider development alternatives’.
The report can be viewed at www.cabaritabeach.org.