Another major controversial development proposed for Crown land in the Tweed has fallen down because of doubts over its financial viability.
A $30 million marina development proposed years ago for Boyds Bay at Tweed Heads has been put on hold and follows the withdrawal two months ago by Leighton Properties of its plan to develop the coastal reserve known as Lot 490 between Kingscliff and Salt into a multi-million-dollar resort.
The marina site at Boyds Bay next to Faux Park, formerly controlled by Tweed Shire Council, was compulsorily acquired by the government two years ago to make way for the marina development.
The Boyds Bay plan included a 185-berth marina, a multi-storey 160-berth dry boat storage building and waterfront promenade with coffee shop and boat hire business. The public jetty may also be replaced and the adjoining Faux Park upgraded.
A spokesman for the state government told Echonetdaily this week that the unnamed marina project developer and the Crown Lands Division had ‘agreed to place the project on hold for the foreseeable future as its return on investment is uncertain in the current market’.
Greens Cr Katie Milne, who originally exposed the site takeover bid, yesterday welcomed the decision to shelve the marina project as ‘fantastic’, saying ‘one of Tweed’s most scenic aspects will be saved, for now at least’.
‘This proposal upset a lot of people and would have gridlocked our two main towns,’ Cr Milne, who successfully overturned council approval for a marina at Chinderah in a fight which propelled her into council, told Echonetdaily.
‘As with Lot 490, the community advised the state government, right from the start, that this would be unviable, as they have finally acknowledged, though it’s now been blamed on the GFC.
‘It was totally unsuited to our demographic profile and there were bugger all permanent jobs or boost for the economy in providing what would essentially be a car park for Gold Coaster’s boats.’
‘The survey for the proposed Chinderah Marina undertaken in 2003 of 612 residents and visitors, showed that 80 per cent of people did not want to see any more marinas elsewhere in the Tweed River, with 19 per cent wanting a little more and only one per cent wanting a lot more.
‘This fuel-guzzling luxury-boat industry is also morally questionable in this age where we are trying to minimise fossil fuel consumption.
‘The state government would serve this community better if they worked more consultatively on these Crown land development proposals and stopped acting like aggressive developers.’
Cr Milne said council was currently assessing a 40-metre pontoon directly opposite the tavern in Chinderah and an application for wake-boarding north of Stotts Island to the Cane Road bridge in Murwillumbah.
She said council and the state government should support the community’s vision to establish a ‘conservation based’ recreational waterways strategy.
Secrecy had always surrounded the marina project, with no public release of concept plans or designs, despite the project now being more than six years old.
The department’s plans came under fire around five years ago from the council’s then administrators when they warned incoming councillors that the government’s marina plans were an overdevelopment of the site.
At their last meeting before handing over the reins in 2008 former mayor and council administrator Max Boyd and local government director Garry Payne endorsed criticism by senior council planning staff about the lack of details surrounding several large Lands Department development proposals, including the Boyds Bay marina project.
Mr Boyd said he was particularly concerned about the department’s lack of consultation with the council administrators during the department’s preparation of the projects, which was followed by rushed community consultation processes limited to just a month.
At the time the environmentalists dubbed the Crown land development push as a ‘coastal plan of development’ and with overtones of the Ocean Blue development debacle at Fingal in the 1980s, when the then NSW Coalition government’s attempt to lease Crown land sparked a corruption inquiry.
Environmentalists fear that space constraints on the site would lead to destruction of sea grasses and degrade nearby Ukerebagh Island nature reserve.
Former planning minister Tony Kelly left out details when he spruiked the multimillion-dollar redevelopment plans in public for the first time in 2009 but promises of more details and public consultation had failed to materialise.
This week, following requests by Echonetdaily, the government spokesman said that ‘following an expression of interest, Crown Lands Division selected a preferred developer for a new marina at Boyds Bay.
‘Crown Lands has been working with the proponent but both parties have agreed to place the project on hold for the foreseeable future as its return on investment is uncertain in the current market,’ the spokesman said.