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Byron Shire
September 26, 2023

Cumbalum residents left wanting as estates fail to provide basic services

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Cumbalum – PIC Cumbalum Residents Association FB

Plenty of housing has been built in the Ballina Shire in recent years but Cumbalum residents are still waiting for services including childcare, groceries, dog parks and decent reception.

The Cumbalum Residents Association (CRA) has heard this month of a lack of plans for an enclosed off-leash dog area in the Ballina estate perched above the Eastern side of the Pacific Motorway.

Meanwhile, people living in areas impacted by floods last year continue to face the risk of a lack of phone services during emergencies, with the council unable to confirm when Telstra will install a promised tower.

Cumbalum features hundreds of developer-designed contemporary luxury homes, often referred to as ‘McMansions’, as well as more modest brick-and-tile abodes.

But living high in the hills of a Northern Rivers coastal paradise is no guarantee of convenient access to goods and services.

The Echo has previously reported on Cumbalum’s fraught plans for a shopping centre and a potential general store in Ballina Heights/Banyan Hill, a lack of childcare services and inadequate playground facilities.

No plans for a dog park in Cumbalum

There are no plans for a dog park like this in Cumbalum, Ballina Shire Council said in September 2023. Photo supplied

Agenda notes for a Ballina Shire Council B Ward committee meeting Monday night included a list of CRA concerns, starting with dogs.

Staff said the CRA wanted the council to investigate costs and logistics of adding a dog park to the Cumbalum Sports Field area as part of the council’s existing planned open space installation budget.

‘There have been multiple complaints from residents of the safety aspects and mess from off lead dogs at the Cumbalum Sports Field and the off-lead dog area East of Cummings Crescent,’ staff notes showed.

But a staff response included in the agenda notes showed the council had no plans to increase dog off-leash facilities in Cumbalum in its Companion Animals Management Plan (CAMP), which councillors voted to adopt two years ago.

The CAMP lists seven off-leash areas for dogs:

  • the northern area of the Bicentennial Gardens reserve;
  • Compton Drive in East Ballina;
  • Gap Road in Alstonville;
    Seven Mile Beach (north of the Lennox Head Surf Club only);
  • the Headlands Drive Drainage Reserve at Skennars Head;
  • the eastern reserve area of the Ballina Heights Estate; and
  • The Spit Beach.

Dogs are also allowed at Sharpes, Angels and Boulders Beach but must be on-leash and under effective control.

More off-leash areas in the Alstonville and Wollongbar precinct are to be considered in the future, according to the plan.

Responding to CRA concerns about dog management at the Cumbalum sports fields, council staff said rangers were visiting more often as part of compliance and education initiatives relating to companion animals.

‘The concerns raised about both the sporting fields and off leash area have been provided to Council’s Rangers for consideration in planning patrols and education programs,’ staff noted.

Ballina Heights opens spaces still in planning

The CRA’s concerns about open spaces weren’t limited to dog areas.

The association said residents were worried planned open spaces in the Banyan Hill area had been cancelled owing to a lack of maintenance resources.

More detail on plans for another sports field in the Banyan Hill/Ballina Heights section of Cumbalum was also sought.

Staff said there weren’t any cancellations of approved open space areas in Banyan Hill and that detailed design was progressing on Hilltop Park.

Plans for the new Banyan Hill/Ballina Heights sports field included two all-weather multipurpose courts; two full sized rectangular playing fields for rugby league, rugby union, soccer and cricket; a clubhouse; and at least 100 car parking spaces

Staff said changes could potentially be sought to the configuration of the playing fields during development.

Council staff in dark over Telstra deadline for Cumbalum tower

Flooding at Cumbalum Interchange, north of Ballina, 1 March 2022. Photo David Lowe.

Another CRA concern was over ‘poor mobile reception in sections of Cumbalum’.

The lower section of Cumming Crescent / Liffey Ave and Higgins Place was highlighted, with the CRA saying the lack of reception was a major safety concern during last year’s floods.

The association wanted to know whether the council had approached mobile providers to investigate Cumbalum’s black spots and if not, what the process was for doing so.

‘It is important to understand that mobile coverage will always vary in areas of undulating terrain, and it is simply not possible to eliminate black-spots completely,’ staff responded in agenda notes.

‘Both Telstra and Optus have coverage of Cumbalum ridge, but this coverage will be better in some areas than in others,’ they noted.

‘The Northern Rivers Joint Organisation commissioned a report early in 2023 to investigate mobile black spots across the region, predominantly on main roads, and the Federal Government has also identified a regional mobile black spot identification program using Australia Post vehicles for the collection of data.

‘Locally, Council continues to work with telecommunication providers in terms of access to Council sites suitable for telecommunications infrastructure, and has recently commenced discussions with Telstra on the potential installation of a new mobile tower on Council-owned land.

‘It is envisaged that this tower will provide improved mobile coverage to the Southern Cross Industrial area, the Ballina Byron Gateway Airport and the eastern side of Cumbalum ridge.’

Staff said a timeframe for delivery of the new Telstra tower was unknown.

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  1. A great win for the residents of Cumbalum when at last nights meeting, the Cumbalum Residents Association (CRA) rejected, by a large majority, the move by Ballina Council’s conservatives to rejig the Ballina Council Ward boundaries specifically A Ward and B Ward.

    The move as proposed in council by Councillor Bruems to amend, at the last minute councils proposal for minimum changes between A and B wards and instead to move Cumbalum including the Ballina Heights Estate from A Ward into B Ward and to move East Ballina North of Missingham Bridge from A ward into B ward was rejected out of hand. Coucillor Bruems who attended the meeting uninvited could not come up with any better argument than some sort of geological connection between Ballina and Cumbalum as the reason for the amendment to council’s well balanced proposal. It became apparent the Association saw the move for what it was, an attempt to dislodge one or the other of the two non-conservative councillors representing B ward, Jeff Johnson and Kiri Dicker and replace one or other of them with a conservative. Councillors Johnson and Dicker are to be congratulated for standing with the CRA against Councillor Bruems one of the Cadwallader Purple Brigade.
    Well done to the CRA and a win for grassroots democracy.

    Alan Veacock


  2. What’s more frustrating is Intrapac (Banyan Hill Estate) rescinding multiple purchasers contracts today after years of waiting for them and Ballina Shire Council to get their act together and approve the DA.
    #moneygrab #incompetence


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