Hanging Rock residents are hopeful their voice has been heard with plans for a luxury ‘gated seniors community’ in their backyard sent back to the developer with recommendations from the State Government’s planning panel.
Rob Murray from ‘Friends of Hanging Rock’ says, “The result was quite incredible – after two hours deliberation the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) returned to deliver a stunning rebuke to the developers,” he says.
The JRPP held a community hearing last month in Batemans Bay, and while supportive of the general idea of a seniors living development in the area, the panel deferred rather than reject the development application (DA), with a list of things to be addressed before and the DA can be lodged again.
Height, flood mitigation, open space, bulk and scale, traffic, vegetation, landscaping, privacy, and architectural merit were some of the points raised by the JRPP, “a very long and extensive list of concerns,” Mr Murray says.
Hanging Rock is a long-established cul de sac suburb of 150 odd homes bounded by sporting fields and the ocean, south of Batemans Bay.
Marketed as ‘The Estuary‘ the proposed development would replace and dwarf the adjoining Coachhouse Marina Resort. The concept plan features 210 serviced self care dwellings, a 150-bed residential aged care facility, and 128 medium density residential apartments.
“An over 55 gated community with luxurious apartments with large balconies, basement parking and breathtaking views. Featuring a café, restaurant and exceptional community facilities with a rooftop pool and BBQ area,” the development’s website reads.
“A waterfront boardwalk around The Estuary from Beach Road to the break-wall will provide residents and visitors of Batemans Bay a beautiful walkway to Corrigans Beach and Hanging Rock. This boardwalk will also provide an alternative entry to The Estuary’s waterfront restaurant and café which will be open to the public.”
‘Friends of Hanging Rock’ say they are not against the development but feel let down by a lack of consultation.
Mr Murray is disappointed the Mayor and councillors didn’t engage with him through the development approval process.
“The Mayor would not even speak with me siting a conflict of interest, we received no support, no guidance, we as residents and ratepayers were abandoned by our elected officials.”
In addressing Mr Murray’s criticism, Council’s General Manager Dr Catherine Dale explains that councillors are not permitted to weigh in on decisions before the planning panel.
“The Coachhouse development was considered by the NSW Government’s Southern Joint Planning Panel, not Council,” she says.
“Developments valued over $30 million are required to be assessed by a planning panel and councillors have no role to play, in fact, it would be a breach of the Code of Conduct if they were to attempt to influence or direct a decision of staff.”
Dr Dale added that Mayor Liz Innes declared a conflict of interest in the matter, “this is entirely appropriate and a requirement of elected officials.”
The proponents of The Estuary are the Sydney based, Global Lifestyle Developments, Managing Director, Brian Brown says “all concerns of the residents have been addressed and where possible our plans have been amended to address them.”
“Our neighbours have put up a good fight and engaged specialists who continually ask for clarification of reports and questioning everything.
“The Joint Regional Planning Panel are making sure all of the neighbours concerns are being answered.
“Some modifications to our plans are being sort which we are considering now,” Mr Brown says.
Via Council, the JRPP received 126 submissions which included 95 objections and 31 in favour.
Council’s Director of Planning and Sustainability, Lindsay Usher says a detailed assessment by Council staff was carried out after receiving the DA in November last year.
“Council assessed the application in accordance with its own and NSW Government policy and a detailed assessment report, considering issues raised in submissions from the community, was supplied to the JRPP for their consideration.”
Mr Murray says he is hopeful for a positive outcome.
“At no time did we as a group ever campaign against development but we are vehemently opposed to ugly, huge and inappropriate development – simple.
“Pretty much all the well structured and common-sense concerns that the community presented were taken on board by the JRPP.
“Make no mistake the site in question is a premium tourism zoned, flood prone, waterfront site which the developer proposed to cover with a nursing home and 20 huge rectangular, concrete blocks – a disaster for the next 50 years not just today.
“Now we wait and see what happens next. What has come out of this so far is – thank God for the independent JRPP.”
All the reports and submissions to the JRPP as well as sound recordings of hearings are available on the Panel’s website.
The Aboriginal Land Council was contacted for comment.