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March 3, 2024

Comment closes today on DA for former Pacific Pines Development Site at Broadwater

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Ephemera wetland near northern boundary of Lot 107 has drainage pipe to adjacent property. Photo supplied

A development application (DA) for the historic ‘Pacific Pines’ site at Boundary Creek in Broadwater is currently ‘on exhibition’ with Richmond Valley Council and locals have raised concerns over the development of the site due to its significant historical flooding. 

The 22.98 ha coastal property is bounded by a Crown Land Coastal Reserve and ocean on its eastern boundary, farmland to the west and an access road to the beach, now closed to public access, on the northern side. The property is to the north of the ‘white sand hill’ lookout at Broadwater. The current application is from AYR Investments Pty Ltd, a private company.  

Lot 107 DP626582 Spatial Viewer Terrestrial Biodiversity RVLEP 2012.

Richmond Valley Council’s current LEP 2012 shows that the property is zoned C3 ‘Environmental Management’ where the objectives of the zoning are ‘to protect, manage and restore areas with special ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values’ and ‘to provide for a limited range of development that does not have an adverse effect on those values’.

The current DA states that the development is for ‘2 x Class 10a Sheds, resurface existing tracks, 1 x new dam, clear existing drains, ongoing use of existing dams, 2 x shipping containers, new front fence and gate, water tanks’.  The application states that it is not a ‘concept or staged development’.  However expert documents supporting the application mention additional dams and other features which need to be reconciled with the DA’s claim that it is not a staged development. Some work appears to have already been done on the site. 

‘There is no listing of the property under Council’s DA Tracker. The reasons for this are not clear although it is known that Council’s DA Tracker cannot be relied on for current, accurate or complete information,’ a spokesperson for Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development (EHRSD) told The Echo today.

They raised concerns ‘about the development on the site because of the site’s historic and contemporary flood and ocean risk profile which clearly has the potential to worsen with time with the relentless pressures of Climate Change’. 

Boundary Creek Road. Google maps 18 August 2022

Ocean break-throughs

Historically the site has been referenced for multiple ocean break-throughs at the site. 

The Boundary Creek area has a recorded history of flooding from the Richmond River as well as from the ocean during major storm events going back to at least the 1890’s. The requirements under the now repealed 1992 Council LEP (Local Environment Plan) were most likely conditioned by the known history of the site. 

Respected government surveyor Charles Coane in 1891 reported that ‘during the high flood of this year, an immense body of water broke over to the ocean…’ at Boundary or Swampy Creek. ‘The breakaway was said to be about 400 feet wide [122 metres] at the ocean and very deep…’  (The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, Fri 15 May 1891). 

In a report to Woodburn Shire Council in 1912 the sea was reported to have broken through the land: ‘During the last heavy weather the sea came over the terrace, and flooded his land, to a serious extent.’ The sea water flowed into the [Richmond] river (The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser Fri 13 Sep 1912).

AYR Investments are owners of the site. Photo supplied

Previous restrictions on site

The property was listed under the former Richmond River Shire Council’s 1992 Local Environment Plan, now repealed, as the ‘Pacific Pines Development’ (lot 107, DP 626582, Parish of Riley).

That plan imposed various conditions on the site including advice about maintenance of the coastal dune system, inhibition of coastal erosion as well as reduction of flood risk, and ‘preparation of a plan… to ensure that occupiers of the land can be safely evacuated from the land where the land is in imminent danger of being inundated by flood waters’. 

The extensive Pacific Pines development did not proceed. 

Richmond Valley Council’s current LEP 2012 shows that the property is zoned C3 ‘Environmental Management’ where the objectives of the zoning are ‘to protect, manage and restore areas with special ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values’ and ‘to provide for a limited range of development that does not have an adverse effect on those values’.

A wide range of developments are ‘permitted with consent’ such as bed and breakfast accommodation, eco-tourist facilities, farm stay accommodation, flood mitigation works, recreation facilities (outdoor) and rural workers’ dwellings.  But multi-dwelling housing and residential flat buildings are ‘Prohibited’. 

The DA reports flooding for the site is limited to the western side of the property but historic evidence as well as contemporary flood and coastal risk studies suggest this is potentially a high risk site.  

AYR Investments are owners of the site. Photo supplied

AYR Investments subject of legal action in the L&EC

A review of currently-available public information shows that AYR Investments Pty Ltd, the applicant for the DA, is the subject of a Class 4 action in the Land & Environment Court (L&EC). 

While details of the case are not known, Class 4 matters are of two types: 

‘civil enforcement, usually by government authorities, of planning or environmental laws to remedy or restrain breaches’ or 

‘judicial review of administrative decisions and conduct under planning or environmental laws’.

The L&EC Court timetable shows that matters relating to the site are scheduled for 1 December and that the Court Hearing is available to the public via ‘Online Court’. 

A spokesperson for Evans Head Residents for Sustainable Development said ‘Not only could this development put people at risk but could involve Council in litigation in the long run if it approves the development. You only have to look up and down the NSW coast to see what is happening. The risks can’t be ignored.’ 

‘We also need to know more about the Class 4 Action in the L&EC, what bearing that action has on the DA and whether or not Richmond Valley Council is part of that process?  Should consideration of the DA be suspended pro tem?’ 

Public comment on the DA closes today November 23.

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