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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Iron Gates development in Evans Head opposed by locals

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Bushfire risk and destruction of environmentally sensitive areas make this an unacceptable development say locals. Photo supplied.

The decision on the controversial Iron Gates development for 175 residential building blocks on the Evans River near Evans Head is being made by the Northern Regional Planning Panel (NRPP). Opportunity to comment on the draft masterplan closes tomorrow Friday, December 6, 2019.

Locals are calling for the development application (DA) to be rejected on a range of grounds including fire risk, what they believe to be a misleading draft masterplan for the site and the fact that remediation activities required by the Land and Environment Court decision in 1997 were never carried out.

‘The current bushfire crisis gripping NSW brings into sharp focus the controversial Iron Gates development at Evans Head. The satellite development for 175 residential building blocks is right in the middle of the highest category for bushfire risk, Category 1 vegetation, which requires a 100 metre buffer zone,’ said Dr Richard Gates from the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee.

The satellite development for 175 residential building blocks is right in
the middle of the highest category for bushfire risk say locals. Image Goldcoral DA.

‘I am gobsmacked that the proposed development was even being considered. The fire risk is not only to those who might chose to live there but to the people of the village of Evans Head who could easily be sacrificed should a fire occur at the Iron Gates. Fire-fighting resources are invariably limited when conditions become extreme and there may not be sufficient to go around. In those circumstances someone is likely to lose out and it could be the Iron Gates or the Village, or, potentially both who are the losers.’

Dr Gates points to a disclaimer in the Bushfire Assessment – Additional Information Response prepared in March 2017 that states, ‘Despite best efforts, there is no guarantee that desirable outcomes are achievable during extreme bushfire weather episodes, which may occasion unpredictable bushfire behaviour and have detrimental consequences to life, property and the environment.’

Previous DA consent removed

In 1997 local activist Al Oschlack took the previous development company Iron Gates Property, of which Graeme Ingles was Director and Secretary, to court over the unapproved clearing that had taken place on the site prior to development approval being granted. The Land and Environment Court ordered that a remediation plan be undertaken and removed permission to develop the site under the previously granted DA.

The remediation work was never carried out as the company went into liquidation. The current DA is being put forward by a Queensland based company called Goldcoral, however, the application is signed off by Graeme Ingles.

Misleading documentation

There have been several hundred objections to the development by locals with many pointing out that there appears to be misleading documentation being provided by Goldcoral in relation to the Subdivision Plans Air Photo Overlay.

‘The Master planning documents appear to use imagery from around 2013,’ says Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development Inc. (EHRSDI) president Ian Drinkwater.

According to Mr Drinkwater the most recent satellite imagery released from the NSW Department of Environment ‘shows extensive clearing at the western edge of the developer’s property’.

‘The maps submitted in support of the development proposal do not show this clearing. This obscures the current situation from the public considering the impact of this proposed development. There are many faults in the Draft Master Plan documentation. Master Plans are meant to accurately inform the decision making process.  In our view these plans do not do that,’ Mr Drinkwater said.

‘The Draft Master Plan should be rejected and the applicant required to submit an accurate set of documents. Moving forward with this document will only result in unsatisfactory decisions that will be open to long and expensive challenges. The community should not forget how costly previous proposals have been to Council and ratepayers with documented evidence to 2009 showing legal expenses alone of nearly a million dollars.’

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    • Evans Head needs this development to grow and keep our businesses open another 5 or 600 people will be great.I believe the majority of Evans Head residents are in favor of the development bring it on.

      • Why stop at 500-600?
        Why not concrete the lot and turn it into another Salt, or Casuarina / Kingscliff / Tweed / Gold Coast ?
        Let’s perpetuate this endless growth myth, especially if we can make some money out of it.
        The attraction of Evans Head is it’s natural beauty, small population, surrounded by national parks. Why would you want to get rid of that – all for the benefit of yet another shonky arsehole developer who has already demonstrated clear disdain for both the law and what makes Evans special? It’s plain stupid.

    • Rubbish John Noles. Supported by a few uneducated, selfish people – well & truly rejected by the majority. Check out the ‘Start Iron Gates’ Facebook page for a taste of where the resounding vote sits!

  1. A developer who sent his original company undertaking a development into liquidation in 1997 (result: there was no-one to do the remediation work that they were “ordered” to undertake)..comes back anew with a new company and a similar development…
    This Graeme Ingles has “form” as a developer. The NRPP should send him packing never to be seen in the Evans Head district ever again..

    • That is 100% correct. The remediation was never even attempted. Ingles .. scuttled the ship but the basic infrastructure he’d put in was still there for his project to return to.
      The land should have been resumed by the government as payment for the fines and lack of action.
      The whole thing is a crock and the council and the so called Evans Head Business Council, which parades as an old school progresses association ( they were focused on human progress not financial) will cling to it while it burns, which it surely will over summer.

  2. This development will open up the housing market for the first home owner as the current market is over priced for any toung person to invest in. Seriously hope this development goes ahead for the prosperity of Evans Head

  3. We need this development for the sustainability of our town. We will loose the infrastructure we have been so lucky to have if we don’t grow. We are an ageing population, there needs to be housing for young families to be able to move to our beautiful town.

    • How will not having this make Evans Head less “sustainable”?
      What “infrastructure” will be “loose” if this doesn’t go ahead? Is council planning to rip up a road? Or remove the non-existent sewerage? Utter crap!
      Any vested interest to disclose here?

  4. So the businesses want to make more money classic. That exactly what it’s all about isn’t it who cares about the awesome environment around Evans.
    Don’t forget the sewerage treatment plant doesn’t cope at the moment during Xmas holidays with heavy rains. Been in the surf many times with the smell.
    More people more shit that’s the way it is.
    Think about it people.

  5. Evans Head doesnt need this type of development.The claim of lost infrastructure is baseless and scare mongering by the uninformed.Lets keep to the facts.The developer is shonky and the whole process has been flawed from the outset.

  6. Whilst sustainable development could be welcomed, this development proposal is not only unsustainable, it is dangerous (from an RFS perspective); arrogant (the traditional custodians have not been consulted); is based on incomplete surveys of flora & fauna; & promises fiscal & job growth from someone who clearly cannot do math which sadly a few mislead hopeful (desperate) locals are buying into (because they either can’t be bothered reading the planning documents or can’t understand them). Not to mention the corrupt developer who has completely disregarded previous court orders around rectifying this site. I’m comfortable with development in Evans Head – but certainly not here (for so many reasons).


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