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Byron Shire
June 23, 2024

Floodplain developments major concern for Kingscliff, Tumbulgum and Chinderah communities

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Tweed MP Geoff Provest President of the Tumbulgum Community Association Jenny Kidd, President of the Chinderah Community Association Felicia Cecil and President of KRPA Peter Newton. Photo supplied

Concerned community representatives for Kingscliff, Tumbulgum and Chinderah communities met with Member for Tweed Geoff Provest last Friday to discuss the risks of approved but yet to built developments on flood prone land.

‘The Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association’s (KRPA) has the strong belief that there is an absolute need to stop development on low lying, flood prone land or, at the very least, pause any such development until State and local authorities have fully considered flood inquiry findings,’ Peter Newton, President of KRPA told The Echo. 

‘The findings of the research currently being conducted by the CSIRO, including the flood mapping, needs to form part of these considerations.’

President of Tumbulgum Community Association (TCA) Jenny Kidd agrees highlighting that ‘we have had another very significant natural event and there should be a moratorium on development on floodplains, including on approved developments’. 

During the meeting they looked at issues relating to legacy development approvals that have significant potential to impact on existing residential housing and commercial properties from future flooding. 

‘The question we have to ask is what is the cost of future floods to ​individuals and taxpayers, add to the cost of the 2022 flood the additional cost of new residents coming into houses on the floodplain, can we afford it? At what point do we draw the line?’ said Ms Kidd.  

Local resident and real estate agent Brent Jones told The Echo following a visit from NSW Labor leader Chris Minns that ‘If they keep filling in the floodplain it will keep rising. The water has to go somewhere’.

Flooding in Kingscliff in 2022. Photo Lindsay Gleeson

Future development 

Member for Tweed Geoff Provest told The Echo that ‘The NSW Liberal Nationals Government has created the Resilient Land Program, an initiative which will identify land in the Northern Rivers to be considered for potential future developments.

‘This is part of a larger plan to build back more resilient communities – a plan that will also deal with retrofits, house raising and land buybacks.

‘The NSW Government will work with councils, local organisations and developers to identify suitable land.

‘We need to know what land is available to help us engage with residents, businesses and developers about the long-term recovery planning – we’re not just rebuilding for now, we are building back better for years to come.’

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

State Significant Farmland

Following the approval of the new Tweed Valley Hospital on the Cudgen Plateau’s State Significant Farmland (SSF) that divided the community, a key concern for many is the ongoing risk to SSF of development pressure.

‘We are concerned at the ‘threats to this valuable protected food bowl posed by non-agricultural proposals such as the so-called “Cudgen Connection” development,’ said Mr Newton.

The ‘Cudgen Connection’ proposal has come from developers who bought the land adjacent to the new Tweed Valley Hospital site just days before the site was re-zoned from SSF to allow for the hospital to be built there. 

The fertile red soil of Cudgen. Photo supplied.

There have been ongoing attempts by developers to have the SSF re-zoned including for the establishment of a police station and in 2013 and a ‘bid by former coalition state MP Don Beck to rezone some of the state’s most protected farmland at Cudgen and turn it into a 231-lot housing development’ and currently the ‘Cudgen Connection’ proposal ensuring that the community have had a continual fight on their hands to protect the land. 

In a letter to Planning Minister Anthony Roberts and Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders in February KRPA sought an ‘unequivocal guarantee’ for the protection of the SSF. 

‘As a community, we genuinely value this protected farmland for its agricultural significance and also for the significant contribution it makes to the amenity of our interconnected beach/farm environment and lifestyle,’ said Mr Newton in the letter.

Responding to The Echo Mr Provest’s office has confirmed his ongoing commitment to preserving the remaining SSF. 

‘Mr Provest has made his position of any future development on SSF very clear. The NSW Government gave a commitment that the required rezoning for the Hospital development would not be extended beyond what was required for the facility,’ said a spokesperson. 

Mr Newton said he and the other community associations who met with Mr Provest appreciated his time and commitments. 

‘Thank you Geoff for the meeting and for agreeing particularly to take forward community concerns regarding the pressing need to pause and halt further development of flood prone land, “legacy” development approvals and delays in provision of temporary accomodation for our flood affected community members. 

‘We also welcome your commitment to the ongoing protection of State Significant Farmland and negating the threats to this valuable protected food bowl posed by non-agricultural proposals such as the so called “Cudgen Connection”. We very much appreciate Geoff’s support and look forward to positive outcomes for our communities on these matters.’

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