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July 6, 2022

Evans Head Iron Gates DA on exhibition – again

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The sensitive site of the controversial planned Iron Gates development, which the state government has refused to consider without a masterplan. Photo Supplied

The controversial residential development proposal Iron Gates development at Evans Head, that saw the development consent removed in 1997 by the Land and Environment Court, is back on exhibition – again

Some of the drains that the developer was ordered to fill that still hasn’t been done over twenty years later. Photo supplied

In what many see as a groundhog day process the developer and Richmond Valley Council (RVC) and Northern Rivers Planning Panel (NRPP) seem unable to resolve the development application (DA).

The RVC have put out a press release stating that ‘The Iron Gates residential subdivision development application is to be re-exhibited to identify Water NSW as an integrated development approval body.

‘Although the concept integrated development application has not changed since it was last exhibited in September-October 2021, Council is obliged to re-exhibit to ensure procedural process is followed as per the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.’

Flooding on the Iron Gates where building and infrastructure will be. And they say it doesn’t flood! Photo supplied

However, the president of the Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development Inc Dr Richard Gates told The Echo that ‘Council knew about the Water Management Act in 2015, seven years ago. It is mentioned in the original DA in 2014 and the Department of Primary Industries raises it in a letter to Council in early 2015 as part of the Integrated Development Application process which begs the question how could such a serious matter be “’overlooked”?’.

Referring to a media release from seven years ago when the new Lismore general manager John Walker was GM of RVC Dr Gates asks why there ‘is still no determination of this controversial Integrated Development? 

‘Frankly the DA should have been refused years ago but council appears to have dragged its feet allowing the developer to take advantage of changes in planning legislation, for example changes no longer requiring a Master Plan. One has to wonder why this DA has been allowed to go on for so long?

‘The development is along the Evans River. The development is impacted by a SEPP 14 Wetland. The development is affected by flooding. There are remediation works to be done according to Land & Environment Court Orders [in 1997] involving large drains dug by the developer.’

Teela Barker, Lyndall Murray and Richmond Valley Council Mayor Robert Mustow. Photo supplied.

There are also Aboriginal cultural heritage issues with the site as well as fire risk concerns.

‘Seriously, with all these “red flag” signals you have to wonder about Council’s planning Competence?’

Previous submissions carried forward?

The Iron Gates DA is currently on public exhibition for one month and submissions must be received by 11.30pm Saturday 19 March. 

‘The Northern Rivers Planning Panel is the consent authority for the proposal, lodged by Goldcoral Pty Ltd, which involves land at 240 Iron Gates Drive, Evans Head, including Crown land along the southern Evans River foreshore. Submissions, including those received from previous exhibitions of this application, will be considered as part of the assessment process,’ states RVC.

However, Dr Gates has said that there ‘There is NO requirement for previous submissions to be considered by the agencies notwithstanding Council’s advice to the public. So the public is lulled into the view that the agencies will also receive prior submissions from the public when we have no guarantee that this will be the case and the regulation is such that there is no obligation to send them previous material. So the water agencies might receive nothing leaving them with the view that there are no objections to the development.’

Clearing and burning on the northern side of Iron Gates property in 2014. Photo supplied

Make a new submission

Dr Gates asks that anyone with concerns over the DA should make a new submission both raising their previous concerns and new comments regarding the water issues. 

‘We also suggest a copy of objections be sent directly to the NRPP with comment about the fact that the water issue has been known about since 2014,’ he said. 

Developer advantage 

‘In our view the current readvertisement of the Iron Gates development gives the proponent the opportunity to round up his supporters to put in submissions favourable to the development. The proponent has the added advantage of being able to access objections from the public, an advantage not afforded the public unless they apply under the Freedom of Information or GIPA Act,’ he said. 

‘In my view the council needs to make available all the submissions made previously to the relevant water authorities for public access. Further, pertinent correspondence from various agencies regarding the current requirement for readvertisement needs to be made public so that we can better understand what happened particularly given Council’s history with the Iron Gates including the $30 million + lawsuit brought against Council and other parties by the current developer and an agreement with council in 2008. Council also needs to provide the public with documentation regarding the responses from the water agencies so that we can see what they have had to say in response to public submissions.

Clearing in May, 2014, and in April, 2016, at the Iron Gates site at Evans Head. (supplied)

Previous DA surrendered?

Dr Gates has also questioned the status of the previous 1992 DA and whether this has been surrendered.

‘We do not know what the final outcome was of this surrender process but I believe it may have major ramifications for the current development particularly if the previous DA has not been surrendered and there are outstanding L&E Court Orders.’

The full Iron Gates published notice, as well as the development application and supporting documents, can be viewed or downloaded from the On Exhibition page at https://richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au/

Any person may make a written submission during the exhibition period by sending it to Richmond Valley Council by:

  • Post – Locked Bag 10 Casino NSW 2470
  • Email – [email protected]
  • Hand delivery – to either of Council’s Customer Service Centres in Casino and Evans Head
  • Online – by completing an online submission form via Have Your Say on Council’s website

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  1. Thankyou for providing this important coverage, Echo. I will once again write a submission. So many unanswered questions! So much transparency needed with so many of our local councils!


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