By Darren Coyne
The controversial Iron Gates development at Evans Head is back on the agenda.
After a lapse of almost a year, a renewed development application for a 184-lot subdivision has been lodged with the Richmond Valley Council.
The 30-year-old plan to develop the site, adjacent to a national park was first quashed in 1997 after Lismore activist Al Oshlack successfully challenged the initial development approval.
Back then, the first stage of the development was to consist of 610-850 houses, a resort, shops and possibly a marina.
But the Land and Environment Court ruled that roads and other infrastructure on the site had been illegally built and should be removed.
But its rulings were never complied with.
In June last year, Echonetdaily reported that the Iron Gates site had once again been cleared by a bulldozer, prompting complaints to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
Shortly after, Gold Coast developer, Graeme Ingles returned to Richmond Valley Council with a scaled-back plan.
But the state government kyboshed the proposal in May this year, after the government’s planning department ruled it could not go ahead without a masterplan.
The revised development, which is now on display on Richmond Valley Council’s website, is under the name of Gold Coral Pty Ltd but it is understood that the same people are involved as before with Iron Gates Pty Ltd.
The DA is signed by Graeme Ingles who was behind the now-liquidated Iron Gates Pty Ltd.
Gold Coral Pty Ltd has prepared a Draft Master Plan for the proposal which has been submitted to NSW Planning.
The opportunity to comment on the DA closes on the 7th of December.
There were nearly 60 objections to the previous application including one from Defence because of the proximity of the proposed development to the RAAF’s Air Weapons Range at Evans Head in Bundjalung National Park.
Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome president Dr Richard Gates, a long-time opponent of the development, told Echonetdaily that in addition to the land use planning conflict for the RAAF Weapons Range at Evans Head, the proposed development was directly in the flight path for the main runway at the state heritage-listed Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome.
‘With proposed increases in the use of the weapons range with the FA/18 Superhornet we see it as highly likely that Defence will continue to object to the proposed development.
‘From a land use planning conflict perspective it would crazy to not continue to object. However that’s a Defence call, not ours.’
Dr Gates also pointed out that the Land and Environment Court orders pertaining to rehabilitation of the site had remained outstanding since 1997.
Another issue was the impact that such a development would have on the health of the Evans River, which is already under major threat from development and poorly controlled run-off.’
Dr Gates said the evidence shows that the river was in major decline as a result of thousand of tonnes of silt from the badly degraded Richmond River which flows into the Evans River via the Tuckombil Canal and riparian degradation as a result of Richmond Valley Council actions along the Evans River near the Bream Hole.
‘Recent clearing at the Iron Gates has probably not helped either,’ he said.
Dr Gates said that he had not heard what the result were of investigation into recent clearing of Iron Gates Land which commenced back in 2014.
He said his committee would be reviewing the revised and may seek independent Town Planning advice as it had for the Caravan Park proposal near the Aerodrome.
Dr Gates accused Richmond Valley Council of advertising incomplete DAs for public comment, which ended up wasting council and community time.
‘Our limited funds are being wasted and council has the hide to ask for an 82 per cent increase in rates to 2025 as part of its “fit for the future” campaign.
‘It needs to lift its game with regard to its management of planning matters as the community seems to be doing its work for it.”
‘The community needs to also ask council ‘what ‘sweeteners’ it is proposing to provide for the development?
The Echonetdaily reported in June last year that RVC had indicated that it might reduce Section 64 Developer Contributions from more than $32,000 to $8,000 per ET (toilet and sewer).
Dr Gates said the 75 per cent cut amounted to a $4 +million discount which would inevitably be passed on to ratepayers.