Kempsey Shire Council is aware of the concerns raised by some community members regarding signs of development in the areas around Settlers Ridge and Steve Eagleton Drive in South West Rocks.
The events and impacts of 2020 have seen a huge surge in demand for housing in the Mid North Coast and particularly the South West Rocks area which was already project to grow above the rate for the rest of the shire.
In response, many developments that have been in the works for many years are now moving forward.
The following information is intended to provide some transparency around the process invovled.
What is the development at Settler’s Ridge?
The development area at Settler’s Ridge in South West Rocks was a Major Project Assessment carried out by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment between 2010 and 2019.
The proposal involves the clearing of 12.35 ha overall. Plans allow for a 138 lot development.
Phase 1 Stage 1 (T6-17-177) has already been completed.
The next stage (T6-20-211) will be cleared this week after the developer gave the required 48 hours notice.
The remaining stage (T6-20-507) is with council waiting on additional information from the applicant.
Development applications can be monitored using Council’s online DA Tracker.
Where exactly is the site that was cleared on Steve Eagleton Drive?
The site at 13-19 Steve Eagleton Drive in South West Rocks recently saw the site cleared of trees for an approved 27 lot subdivision.
The subject site is a block of bushland neighbouring the Coles shopping complex that has been zoned residential since 1987, surrounded by built out residential, business, and industrial land.
The developer of the residential zoned block had the subdivision approved in 2019 subject to a variety of heritage and biodiversity conditions.
When was the Steve Eagleton development proposal approved?
A subdivision proposal for the block at 13-19 Steve Eagleton Drive was lodged on the 3rd of December 2018 and assessed and approved in 2019 under Delegated Authority after internal and external referral.
External referral was sent to the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Lands Council for a Heritage Assessment Report and the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment Biodiversity Conservation Trust for consideration into the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme. Both referrals recommended development approval subject to conditions. Council’s approval duly imposed those conditions.
What is going to be built on the Steve Eagleton Drive site?
The Steve Eagleton Drive site has an approved 27 lot residential subdivision.
Was there any consultation regarding the Steve Eagleton Drive site with local indigenous groups?
As a part of the approval process, the proposal was referred by Council to the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Lands Council for a Heritage Assessment Report. One of the conditions of consent was that “an Aboriginal Field Officer from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service or the Kempsey Local Aboriginal Land Council must be present during all earthworks.”
Why is the Developer at Steve Eagleton Drive allowed to clear the trees?
This is the first development site within the Shire to proceed under the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s Biodiversity Offset Scheme, under which developers who undertake clearing generate an obligation to offset their activity through a like-for-like planting of similar vegetation in the same local area, or make a payment through the state government’s Biodiversity Conservation Trust.
Did the developer of the Steve Eagleton Drive site break the rules?
The developer complied with all Council and state government requirements in place to protect the natural environment.
The developer made lengthy efforts to fulfil their biodiversity offset obligations and have followed all the right steps.
Is the developer of the Steve Eagleton Drive site planting new trees?
Despite the efforts of the developer over the past year to source a local site, and then a regional site to fund a like-for-like biodiversity stewardship to offset their development, none were available.
As such, in September 2020 the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust confirmed to Council that the developer had paid their full conditioned offset obligation of $721,201.50 into the State’s Biodiversity Conservation Fund.
This fund was created by the NSW government to enable developers to proceed with the development while allowing the Trust to bundle credit obligations and secure strategic offset outcomes.
What is the Biodiversity Offsets Scheme?
The Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is a NSW government framework, established by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, designed to avoid, minimise and offset impacts on biodiversity from development and clearing, and to ensure land that is used to offset impacts is secured in-perpetuity.
It is designed to see developers either fund nearby landholders to establish a site where they will grow like-for-like vegetation to offset the impact of the clearing or to pay the state government’s Biodiversity Conservation Trust which delivers private land conservation programs.