A decision by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) has finally laid to rest a two-decade campaign by Hastings Point residents against a controversial 45-lot housing development proposal, and residents are set to celebrate their win.
The PAC last week agreed with a recent planning department that had recommended refusal, finally putting the last nail in the coffin to the contentious development, known as Lot 156 Creek Street.
PAC chair Gabrielle Kibble and member Joe Woodward said the commission had carefully considered the department’s assessment report including aerial photos, agency and 423 public submissions, and agreed with the recommended refusal.
The planning department had said the creekside project in the floodprone coastal village would result in an unacceptable risk to life, health and property and was incompatible with the adjoining natural and built environment.
Local lawyer and Hastings Point Progress Association spokesman John O’Reilly, who led the battle against the development, thanked fellow residents, Tweed Shire Council staff involved in the process, Tweed councillors who supported them, and several MPs ‘for taking the time to listen and assist’.
He also urged residents to email and thank all those involved in helping them including politicians and environmental experts.
But Mr O’Reilly said the community now had to push for the implementation of further changes to the village’s development control plan and Tweed LEP ‘to ensure the controls represent the intentions of the law, to protect the community and environment that exists in this special place, to ensure it is not necessary to fight such a battle again’.
For years the progress association had fought the development, warning that if it went ahead four metres of fill would be dumped on the site, creating a dam and flooding homes along Creek Street by stopping water from escaping directly into Christies Creek.
Residents had said some of those most at risk where elderly residents living in the retirement section of the North Star Holiday Village.
Past and present owners of the prime creekside location have been involved in the long-running war with residents who had complained about unauthorised works and vegetation removal during the past 20 years.? The most recent owner of the property, Brisbane developer Walter Elliott, kept animosities simmering after he strung up a barbed-wire fence around the property shortly after acquiring it in 2000.? Mr Elliott claimed it was to confine dogs belonging to the live-in caretaker, Athol Youngblutt, brother of Tweed councillor Phil Youngblutt, but residents said it cut off their access to the creek and posed an injury threat to wildlife.
Mr O’Reilly previously told Echonetdaily the long-running saga began with previous owner Nev Wintour more than 20 years ago. Mr Wintour used bulldozers and a dredge to expand the site to its present size by altering the course of Christies Creek before police were forced to physically remove him from a dredge after he ignored orders to desist.? Mr O’Reilly said alterations to the natural landscape in the 80s and 90s had been horrific and involved in-filling a section of creek as part of a huge land theft that had aggravated flooding in that part of the estuary, nearby homes and the holiday village.