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(NEW SOUTH WALES) The Land & Environment Court Report: More than a hundred residents gathered to hear oral submissions about the Halloran Trust’s revised plans for the West Culburra development, at a conciliation hearing of the court held in the town hall on Monday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.14: A search [online] for any vacant residential land will show there is not one single block of land available in Culburra, that somebody could buy to build a house on,” Mr Muller said:

The Land and Environment Court has been told a village on the New South Wales south coast will struggle to survive if a controversial housing development is not approved, while environmental groups say it would have dire impacts on water quality, wildlife habitat and Aboriginal cultural heritage’

A map of a housing developement
Halloran Trust’s company Sealark has submitted revised plans for the West Culburra development: It includes 244 low and medium-density residential lots capable of providing up to 293 dwellings. (Supplied: Sealark Pty Ltd)

Culburra community at loggerheads over revised plans for housing development: Culburra Beach and Districts Chamber of Commerce president Brian Muller, who is a local real estate agent, said the seaside village had seen a sharp rise in houses being used for holiday rentals, leaving supply for permanent residents at “crisis point”.

“One recent sale of land and it wasn’t on the beach front, no views, it sold for $645,000. That price is extraordinary for a village like Culburra beach.

“It’s so unaffordable and unfortunately we will run out of businesses eventually if we don’t have a permanent population to sustain the businesses that are here,” he said.

Environmental concerns remain

The Independent Planning Commission rejected the original proposal for more than 650 low and medium-density residential lots, tourist accommodation, cafés and restaurants, in 2018.

The commission found the proposal was “inappropriate in scale” and had the potential to impact water quality in nearby catchments, and could “irreversibly impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage.”

The applicant later won an appeal in the Land and Environment Court to submit amended plans for almost 300 dwellings and 13 industrial lots but residents opposed to the project argued the changes do not go far enough.

“There’d be groundwater impacts on Lake Wollumboola but the water-quality impacts would be in the Crookhaven River catchment if this development was to go ahead,” Lake Wollumboola Protection Association president Frances Bray said.

“That would impact on oyster growing but also on fish and birdlife.”

“We’re so lucky here to have relatively undisturbed major wetlands and to think they would be degraded by this development is really very distressing,” she said.

Four people stand and smile for the camera
Members of Culburra Residents and Ratepayers Action Group opposed to the plans, Joe Pichler, Rebecca Sleath, Kingston Anderson and Rod Sleath attended the hearing on Monday. (Supplied: Claire Haywood)

‘It’s making me sick’

Residents opposed to the project also raised concerns about the one-road access into the village, particularly during emergencies, and claimed the development was at odds with its character.

Jerrinja Aboriginal Land Council CEO Alfred Wellington said he was also worried dozens of sacred Aboriginal sites including middens — believed to be thousands of years old — would be destroyed if the project was approved.

“There’s a lot of areas in these development footprints that our community hasn’t been able to access, so, there’s potentially a lot more sites out there that could be impacted by this development,” Mr Wellington said.

Jerrinja resident Graham Connolly Junior said he was disappointed the local Aboriginal community was not consulted more rigorously about the proposal.

“The land they’re going to be developing on has cultural significance to the Jerrinja Tribal People and we believe our sites should not be touched,” Mr Connolly said.

“It’s actually making me sick that my land is being impacted on without us being part of the process, to give knowledge about what needs to be recognised and what needs to be protected,” Mr Connolly said.

A decision on the project is due to be made in the coming weeks. 

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: May.14: 2021:

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