The state government has outraged Kingscliff residents by moving to sell off the coastal village’s much-disputed coastal reserve known as Lot 490.
The controversial move to sell by public tender the 40-acre lot between south Kingscliff and Salt comes despite a recent petition signed by almost 9,000 Tweed residents calling for the land to be retained as a wildlife corridor and public parkland.
It means the prime piece of beachfront Crown land could be sold with an existing development approval for a resort given to Leighton’s Properties under a lease which the embattled property group pulled the pin on earlier this year.
Save Our Lot 490 spokesman Jerry Cornford told Echonetdaily another option was for the government to allow for a new plan of management for the site and a new development proposal applied for.
‘It’s believed any proceeds from the sale would go to Tweed Shire Council,’ Mr Cornford said.
He said the community lobby group recently discovered that on September 4, the government had transferred Lot 1 of DP 1117599 (the area of Lot 490 between Casuarina Way and Kingscliff’s South Beach), from Crown Land to ‘Government Property’ enabling it to offer the land for outright sale.
‘As the government has already offered to reimburse Tweed council for the sale price if council was to buy the land, it hopes council will take up the offer to obtain a rare and valuable parcel of public open space,’ Mr Cornford said.
An independent environmental study of the land is already under way to determine which areas need protection for endangered native species, and which could be opened up as public open space and parkland. Mr Cornford said given the huge future pressures on coastal access from residents of the two biggest residential projects on the east coast of Australia (the proposed Kings Forest and Cobaki Lakes developments), council ‘should seize the opportunity to preserve Lot 490 for the future enjoyment of all residents of the Tweed, rather than allow it to be monopolised by any commercial development offering only limited public access’.
‘Our group hopes that with common sense and good urban planning, Lot 490 will offer all residents of the Tweed access to the recreational opportunities of South Beach and Cudgen Creek, while preserving the endangered native plant and animal species for future generations to enjoy,’ he said.
‘Council has already promised to hold a public meeting to allow ratepayers their say on the future of Lot 490 and the group hopes that meeting will be expedited so that council can submit any plans they might have for public scrutiny.’
Mr Cornford said he was sure that residents and council could agree on a change of zoning to prevent the public being locked out of free access by any commercial enterprise, and a new plan of management ensuring both full public access and enjoyment and the necessary environmental safeguards.
‘Only a week ago, a deliberately lit fire on Lot 490 destroyed a stand of the endangered native orchid Geodorum Densiflorum just days after seeds had been collected for the international Millennium Seed Project at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in the UK, the largest off-site conservation project in the world,’ he said.
Comments from Tweed MP Geoff Provest, who initially supported the petition to preserve the land, and mayor Barry Longland have been sought but not yet received over the shock move.
Last week council staff, councillors and state government officials were due to hold a briefing on the Crown land and its future.