In a move described as ‘bravado’, an Evans Head real estate agent has begun taking $1,000 down-payments on residential blocks in the proposed $11.5 million Iron Gates development.
A development application for 178 lots on 18.2 hectares of the riverfront site is on display and before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
The proposal is just a quarter the size of 680-lot development that was halted by protests and court action back in the 1990s.
Opponent Dr Richard Gates told Echonetdaily that it ‘was a bit rich’ that the developer was asking for a waiver on SEPP 71 Coastal Policy conditions.
‘Given the existing court orders are still outstanding it’s a bit cheeky,’ Dr Gates said.
Dr Gates said it was also cheeky that a local real estate was offering the $1,000 deal to secure a block, despite the DA being still on display.
After decades of uncertainty, the development came back on the radar in June this year after residents complained of alleged illegal clearing at the site.
The NSW Officer of Environment and Heritage confirmed in July that it was investigating the clearing of the site, which is bordered by the Evans River, and national parks.
While some quarters of the Evans community have welcomed the development proposal, long-time opponent Al Oshlack has vowed to fight any new development every step of the way.
In 1997, EDO NSW acted for Mr Oshlack to stop clearing for a subdivision by Gold Coast developer Graham Ingles, which had been approved by the then Richmond River Shire Council.
The first stage of the development was to consist of 610-850 houses, a resort, shops and possibly a marina.
The court found the breaches of the development consent were so serious that the consent was rendered null and void.
In a landmark judgment, the court ordered a full restoration of the site upon which substantial works had been done, including a large access road and storm water drains.
The company subsequently went into receivership and no restoration was ever made.
Mr Oshlack told Echonetdaily that the court had been very clear in what was required to remediate the site, but the remediation had never been carried out.
Meanwhile, Richmond Valley Council general manager John Walker told the ABC earlier this month that the new plans appeared to comply with current regulations.
‘Things have changed somewhat since the 1990s court case,’ Mr Walker said.
‘The land has subsequently been zoned for residential land in the part that is subject to this DA, and other parts of the Iron Gates site have been rezoned as environmental zones.
‘So we’re talking about a specific piece of land which fits the planning scheme and should be treated on its merits.’