21.5 C
Byron Shire
March 21, 2023

Developers say Cudgen State Significant Farmland incorrect zoning

Latest News

Byron’s chocoholics’ Easter destination

The Love Byron Bay boutique has been specialising in unique cocoa encounters for nearly a decade now. In this...

Other News

Interview with Southern Avenue’s Tierinii Jackson

Abounding with musical creativity, confident songcraft, and deeply felt emotion, Southern Avenue marries soul power and jam band liberation with gospel, blues and righteous R&B to craft their own timeless brand of American music. Seven spoke to Southern Avenue’s Tierinii Jackson last week, in late winter Memphis, Tennessee…

Byron’s chocoholics’ Easter destination

The Love Byron Bay boutique has been specialising in unique cocoa encounters for nearly a decade now. In this...

Geoff Provest talks SSF and hosptials in Tweed

A key issue in the seat of Tweed is around the preservation of State Significant Farmland that is currently under threat from developers like those behind the 'Cudgen Connection' development proposed for the site next to the current Tweed Valley Hospital.

Labor’s Craig Elliot commits to SSF and keeping old Tweed Hospital site open

Talking state significant farmland (SSF) and the Tweed Hospitals Labor’s Craig Elliot has committed to preserving SSF, free parking at the new Tweed Valley Hospital (TVH) and keeping the old Tweed Hospital in public hands. 

It flooded the first storey in 2022 – so is a 60-lot development a good idea?

The Richmond Valley Council has been asked to approve a 60 Lot Residential Subdivision on Rileys Hill Road, Broadwater on a floodplain 70 metres from the Richmond River. According to locals, the area flooded extensively during the 2022 flood with many houses across the road from the site being flooded up to and including the first floor.

Lismore candidate Alex Rubin

With just a few days until we head to the polls, The Echo asked the candidates for the seat of Lismore one last bunch of questions.

An artists impression of the new Cudgen Connection

The developers of the $250m proposed development on State Significant Farmland (SSF) next to the new Tweed Valley Hospital, called Cudgen Connection, presented their case for developing the site to Tweed Shire councillors yesterday afternoon. 

They are seeking to re-zone 5.7 hectares of SSF to build a $250m private health care and education facility that also includes a farmers market and koala ‘Centre of Excellence for Koala Research’. 

However, following the controversial rezoning of SSF for the site for the Tweed Valley Hospital local Nationals MP Geoff Provest gave a commitment that the rezoning would not be a means for opening the door for further development on the SSF of Cudgen plateau.

Proposed site for the $250m health and education development ‘Cudgen Connection’ on State Significant Farmland. Photo Jeff Dawson

Incorrect zoning?

The first hurdle that the developer needs to jump is the rezoning of the site at 741 Cudgen Road, Cudgen for the development and then they would seek to gain state government approval for the development itself. 

Responding to questions from The Echo the Cudgen Connection Project Team (CCPT) and developer Allan Larkin, Digital Infratech Director, said they were ‘pleased to welcome Mayor Cherry’s comment that the Tweed community would be very receptive to the proposed health and education-led precinct’.

They said that in regards to the Mayor’s concerns over the proposed site not being the right location they believe that the current SSF zoning ‘is incorrect zoning of the 5.7 hectare site’.

The developer has gone to significant lengths with a range of experts to demonstrate the lack of suitability of SSF zoning for the site. This includes that ‘The site has not been farmed in decades (approximately 40 years); Current zoning was created in 2005 – the result of a line drawn on a map without undertaking any scientific analysis of the site; The site does not meet the NSW Government’s criteria for suitable farming; The site is not of (agricultural) importance or significance according to a consortium of specialists including economic analysts, agricultural land assessors, traffic experts, town planners, and health infrastructure specialists’.

They also stated that ‘the 5.7-hectare parcel is significantly smaller than the NSW Government State Significant Land threshold (20 hectares)’.

However, when the Cudgen plateau was zoned as SSF, in total it was approximately 600 hectares that was preserved and made up of a range of properties. By rezoning the land for the Tweed Valley Hospital that was reduced to approximately 540 hectares. It is understood that if the overall parcel of land zoned as SSF drops below 500 hectares it exposes the whole area to losing the SSF protection it currently holds. 

The fertile red soil of Cudgen. Photo supplied.

Food security

Responding to the CCPT presentation Mayor Cherry told The Echo that ‘The last two years of COVID have taught us that the local food bowl security is incredibly important to the community. While the site might not be best suited to traditional horticulture and agricultural methods it has been recognised as farmland that can be utilised in the future especially with innovative, modern farming techniques.’

Independent Councillor Meredith Dennis supported Mayor Cherry’s comments saying that ‘The land on which this development is proposed is State Significant Farmland, and although it has not been farmed on for many years this land is to be saved and used for our future food bowl needs.’

Tweed Hospital. Source: Hospitalstays.com.au

Other sites available

A number of other development areas have already been set aside for future development as part of the Tweed Regional Economic Development Strategy ​​and Tweed Local Strategic Planning Statement (LSPS) including land in Kingscliff referred to as Gales Land and the old Tweed Hospital site. 

‘Last night the proponents revealed the reasons they did not believe the existing hospital site, Gales Land or Kings Forest were appropriate for this development,’ said Mayor Cherry.

‘These were mostly simply a copy paste from Health Infrastructures’ consideration of these sites when they were relocating the Tweed Valley Hospital and I would like to see a much more comprehensive consideration of these locations. This could be an incredible asset for the Tweed Shire if it was at a location that our strategic planning has identified as suitable, which at present it is not.’

Following yesterday’s presentation Greens Councillor Dr Nola Firth told The Echo ‘I remain concerned about rezoning our land to fit commercial interests rather than following a strategic plan where new initiatives fit into current zones. Kings Forest and the Tweed Hospital were suggested to the developers as sites with more appropriate zoning.’

Mr Larkin agrees that agricultural land is important telling The Echo that ‘our team believes that maintaining good agricultural land for future generations is essential.’ However, he said that ‘this particular site fails all criteria for the determination of important and strategic farmland. We believe the site was incorrectly included in the strategic farmland listing and significant changes have occurred in neighbouring land uses as well as community needs in the precinct.

Local benefits

‘The current site restrictions do not benefit the community and the proposed Cudgen Connection has considerable opportunities for the community,’ he said. 

Mr Larkin and the CCPT also highlighted that they predicted the creation of 1,000 jobs, a reduction in pressure and waiting times in the public health system and ability to attract specialists to the region, an improved public transport system through the delivery of a transport interchange, and co-location of other health services.’ 

However, Richmond Greens candidate Mandy Nolan said that ‘Nobody but the developer wants this here. Yes, our community wants investment in aged care, health, education and housing but this is the wrong place to put it and they’re the wrong people to do it. 

‘The community would pay for this development twice. First with our farmland and again when paying for privatised essential services. Government needs to pay for this infrastructure elsewhere, otherwise it’s a lose-lose for the community and a win-win for the developer.’

Tweed MP Geoff Provest. Photo pronto.com

Agriculture minister supports Provest

Local member for Tweed Geoff Provest (Nationals) provided an ‘iron clad’ assurance to the local community at the time the new Tweed Valley Hospital site was rezoned saying that no further SSF would be used for development purposes.

NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders.

This position has been supported by NSW Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders (National) who told The Echo that ‘I am aware of the proposal, and I share the concern of the Member for Tweed. I refer you to his comments on the matter, which I agree with wholeheartedly: “Whilst we are building a state of the art health facility at Cudgen that should not be seen as a green light to concrete additional Cudgen farmland. This is not welcome”.’

It was also reported yesterday that the Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts told The Echo that, ‘The NSW Government made a commitment to protecting the remaining Cudgen farmland in the Tweed Shire. I support the local member and thank Geoff Provest for his advocacy in ensuring this land is protected for the Tweed Shire community’.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. The ICAC should be investigating all the players in the entire suspect Hospital land rezoning, PERIOD! I doubt Provest will even run at the next election, he has nothing to lose really! He’s simply playing good cop bad cop? The Sydney Liberals have probably already given this the nod the same day they did the original rezonings? Perhaps councillor Owen could inform the Tweed Shire community on just what his Sydney Lieberal parties next move on the Cudgen plateau will be after this one? Perhaps show a Morrisonesque glossy colour coded brochure, of which developments will get priority?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Full Moon natural wine festival!

Full Moon Festival by Luna Wine Store welcomes 30 of Australia’s most exciting winemakers and natural wine importers to the region on Saturday, 6...

Famous plant-based market food

Victoria Cosford Arianne Schreiber has a confession. ‘I pretty much sleep with cookbooks’, she tells me – and I completely empathise! Those for whom cooking...

Swimmers take plunge for mental health

Swimmers took to Byron Bay pool and swam over 2000 laps to raise money to help improve services to support youth mental health. Laps for...

New rugby joint venture rearing to go

The newly-formed joint venture that combines Bangalow and Byron Bay rugby teams is already paying dividends with big training numbers and plenty of enthusiasm...