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June 19, 2024

Zombie DAs creating living hell for local communities

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Locals are calling on the state government to take action on zombie DAs to support local communities to balance housing, the environment and the homes of threatened species. Photo Jeff ‘Hello Ian’ Dawson.

Zombie development applications (DAs), or legacy DAs, are old approvals that are resurrected by a developer and pursued under outdated legislation. Clarence Property’s ‘Wallum Estate’ DA in Brunswick Heads is one of these zombie DAs and it is one of many that have been brought to life up and down the coast of NSW. 

A similar zombie DA originally from 1996 saw developers ‘moonscape’ a site on the Cobaki estuarine floodplain at Tringa Street, Tweed Heads earlier this year according to locals.


‘When a zombie DA gets resurrected, it isn’t measured against current environmental and natural disaster legislation, but instead is tragically measured against older, out of date standards, that are vastly out of step with local community values and crucial environmental regulations,’ explained James Barrie from Save Wallum. 

‘There are multiple threatened species currently relying on this land [in Brunswick Heads], that would be further threatened with significant impacts and ineffective offsets that are the hallmarks of zombie developments.

‘Zombie DAs are classically out of step with local values, as well as local Council’s environmental and development legislation. Attempted against current legislation they would not be approved. 

Just to be really clear

‘Byron Council has backed this assertion, with the Mayor Michael Lyon saying, “Just to be really clear, If this DA came to us as Council, without any pre-existing state government overlays and overhangs, there is no way we would approve this, there’s no way that we would approve the removal of the trees on the site, or the destruction of habitat, or the bulldozing of endangered ecological communities; there’s no way this Council would approve that”.’

Lindy Smith, president of the Tweed District Residents and Ratepayers Association told The Echo that ‘the call from communities for an immediate moratorium on zombie DAs that have suddenly come to life after being asleep for decades has gone unanswered.

‘Urgent immediate provisions need to be established to enable these zombie development approvals be reconsidered under today’s information, policies, science and risk factors.’

Ecologically harmful leverage

Mr Barrie agrees telling The Echo that, ‘zombie developments are an ecologically harmful leverage of loopholes in planning legislation, which pushes local populations of threatened species all the way to the edge of their ability to stave off extinction, and robs local communities of places they truly value.

‘Just look at the “Save Wallum – Brunswick Heads”’ Facebook page to see how loved this place is, and how much the community wants this zombie DA put back in the grave. ‘The accumulative impacts of zombie developments all along the coastline is a “death by a thousand cuts” effect to our threatened species and their rare and beautiful habitats.’ 

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  1. Yes we have a few zombie das in Yamba and Evans head has iron gates rear it’s ugly head every couple of years and Ballina has west Ballina problem on flood plain trying to get passed the problem is councils have no power to reject these das the state government is just pro development at any cost they don’t give a rat’s about amenity or the cost to the environment and to life and limb when flood and fires occur in these areas and the impact these das have on insurance council should make these decisions along with public consultation not state government.


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