Lawyers Picnic At Lagoons Estate 2017

This is our annual roundup of the Lagoons Estate saga, we covered this in 2015, 2016, and now in 2017 it is still a Lawyers Picnic. On 12 September 2017 Justice Pembroke set down a further hearing date May, 2018. This case has now been in court 14 times since May 2016. The Judge himself made a scathing assessment of those involved and the costs incurred:

The conduct of the proceedings does not reflect well on the legal representatives or their clients. It has certainly not been in the interests of the parties or in the interests of justice. The current dispute has all the hallmarks of an attitude on both sides which is both myopic and pedantic. There has been an excessive focus on formality and minutiae, at the expense of the real issues in dispute. – NSW Supreme Court Justice Michael Pembroke

Journalist Joanne McCarthy’s excellent coverage, of this case and some discussion with the Lagoons Estate Resident Group is the only information we get on this matter. Deafening silence from PS Council.

Nelson Bay at the Crossroads

Examiner 07 March 2017: TRRA pushes for strict height limits in Nelson Bay CBD  – Keeping the character or the town Non Negotiable

This opinion piece in the Examiner by Nigel Waters, TRRA Planning Committee Convener, will be the last word in the media from TRRA on the building heights issue, before submissions are due today on 13 March 2013.

At a Council Meeting 13 December 2016 a decision was taken to review the:

2012 Nelson Bay Town and Foreshore Strategy 2012 (5.6 MB)

As part of this review, Council  released the three documents below for public exhibition on 13 Feb 2017.

TRRA have made a comprehensive submission on the review with an appendix of comments on the two reports by the consultants above.

TRRA Submission – 2017 Nelson Bay Strategy Review

Attachment: Comments on HillPDA and EPS reports.

We are sure that many of you have made excellent submissions on this important subject, which has had a very god run in the local media, and drew over 200 people to our last TRRA General Meeting. Below is a personal submission from our TRRA President Geoff Washington.

Personal Submission on 2017 Nelson Bay Strategy Review

If you have prepared a good submission that has some different points than those covered above send it to and we will consider posting it here for others to see. We value your input.

TRRA Joins Nelson Bay Lobby Group

Geoff Washington, TRRA President Writes:


In recent years TRRA Inc. has been a member of the Nelson Bay Chamber of Commerce more recently called Tomaree Business Chamber.  This has provided an opportunity to be informed on the aspirations of our business sector and to consult with commercial interests on matters on TRRA’s agenda. An objective has been to achieve mutual support where possible.

Last year the Business Chamber, having recognised that the commercial performance and overall presentation of Nelson Bay town centre was in decline, took the initiative to form a new partnership of organisations with an interest in the Nelson Bay town centre and Foreshore.   This group adopted the title of Nelson Bay Now (NBN)

The purpose of NBN is to create a partnership of organisations and individuals working towards a better future for Nelson Bay Town Centre and its foreshore. 

Its key objective is to create a united voice and cohesive advocacy group to represent the interests of businesses and the community of Nelson Bay.

Membership so far includes representatives of:

  • The Tomaree Business Chamber
  • Destination Port Stephens (Our tourist organisation and promoter)
  • Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association Inc.
  • EcoNetwork
  • D’lbora Marinas
  • Acomm Port Stephens
  • 6 individual business owners (including legal, real estate, consulting and health services)

Meetings are held monthly chaired by a convenor Ryan Palmer (Ryan Palmer Finance, formerly Manager of the Greater Bank). Peter Clough is currently acting as secretary.

Where consensus cannot be reached on any issue, members reserve the right to dissent from any NBN action and to act independently on that matter.  So far there has been a high level of agreement on agenda items.

Agenda and achievements

Since its establishment mid way through 2016, NBN has agreed that it should give priority to the issues of Inadequate Car Parking in Nelson Bay, traffic management generally, the proposed extension of Yacaaba Street to Victoria Parade, upgrade of the public domain including landscaping, signage, and implementation of the Apex Park improvement plan.

Questions have been asked in relation to Council’s plans to hand over the two Donald Street public carparks to developers, subject to a condition that any development include a replacement of existing public car parking spaces.  NBN considers that these Council owned sites are of great long term strategic significance to Nelson Bay and there is a majority view that the parking capacity needs to be augmented not just restored.

More recently, NBN has been giving priority to the Council’s call for consultation on the its Discussion Paper-Progress of the Nelson Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy.  NBN is seeking to reach a consensus on the major proposals in the discussion paper for the purpose of engaging with Council Planners and Councillors. Building heights will be one key area of interest.

NBN has been successful in establishing lines of communication with our Commonwealth and State representatives who have offered to assist in taking up issues with relevant ministers and administrations. Meetings have been held with representatives of the NSW Premiers Department, the Minister for the Hunter, Department of Planning and Environment and those responsible for implementing the Hunter Regional Plan. On 16 February, NBN will be meeting with Catherine Cusack the new Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter. TRRA will be represented.

A clear message was received from these levels of Government that any proposals for assistance or initiatives would need to be developed in conjunction with our Local Council.   In recognition of this, NBN sought and was granted Public Access at a meeting of Port Stephens Council in late 2016 and Councillors have attended some meetings of NBN. Senior officers of Council have agreed to meet with NBN on a bi-monthly cycle to discuss matters of concern.

Contact  NBNow

Secretary NBN, Peter Clough,  Phone:  4984 4751 email:


February 2017 Newsletter – DA Watch

Our General Meeting, 7:00 pm Tuesday 21 Feb at Nelson Bay Bowling Club is shaping up to be one of the most important for Nelson Bay Residents for some time. Two major issues will be discussed at this meeting.

  1. The review of the Nelson Bay Town & Foreshore Strategy, including a proposal to uncap building heights in the CBD. Council Planners have agreed to attend the meeting to report on progress of the review and a discussion paper that will be released prior to the meeting. Please take this opportunity to come along for a briefing on this important issue and to get the answers to the questions that you have directly from the Senior PSC Planners.
  2. The Council Amalgamation Fiasco that is dominating the headlines surrounding the resignation of NSW Premier Baird and the election of his deputy Gladys Berejiklian to the job. At the time of writing this, (Sunday Feb 05 2017) we we are predicting that this matter will come to a head in the next few days. With a split in the Coalition on the issue, the Nationals leader calling for the halt of all amalgamations in the bush, and a couple of bye elections imminent in seats affected by mergers we think the new Premier will move quickly to clear the decks on this issue. We will know the outcome by the time of our meeting and the implications will be discussed at length. Our Council has spent over quarter of a million dollars of ratepayers money on this so far, and does not seem to have achieved much. The current situation of uncertainty cannot continue, ratepayers have been disenfranchised indefinitely and if a decision about an election or the appointment of an administrator is not made soon, the Electoral Commission has made it clear that the current impasse could continue until after the State Elections in 2019. This would be unacceptable.
  3. The DA watch below reflects the incredible amount of work being done by the TRRA Planning Committee  evaluating the large number of Development Applications that have come in over the holiday period. We are now including links to the Many TRRA submissions that have been produced by this Committee so that you can understand the issues raised and comment on them at our meetings or make your own submissions. Please feel free to write to the Committee or comment on our website. We are working on a project to post all submissions made by TRRA since 2008 on our website in a searchable index so that they are available to members, the public and the media for reference. So many of them resurface every few years………….. Have a look HERE at some of the earlier ones 2008 – 2011. Déjà vu indeed!

DA watch – February 2017

Since the last report in the  September 2016 DA watch and the November 2016 Newsletter, there have been several significant developments (sic) on the planning front.

Shoal Bay – You win some, you lose some! 

The redevelopment proposal for the Santa Catalina Motel at Shoal Bay has been approved, with Council dismissing objections from TRRA and neighbours about it exceeding height limits and changing the character of the eastern end of Shoal Bay Road. TRRA SubmissionCouncil Response.  In contrast, a controversial proposal for 10 units on two blocks on Leonard Avenue, also in Shoal Bay, has been withdrawn after objections from local residents and a critical submission from TRRA.  TRRA Submission

Examiner 01 Feb 2017: Leonard Street proposal prompts caution from Shoal Bay neighbours

Salamander Centre – Next stage firms up

Plan 155 Salamander Way – July 2016

Following the subdivision of the land and approval of infrastructure works now under construction Council applied for a further subdivision of the large lot north of McDonalds, and DAs have been lodged for a free-standing Aldi store on the western part of that site, TRRA Submission, and for a service station next to the Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet on Bagnall’s Beach Road.  TRRA Submission.

Examiner 20 Jan 2017: ALDI Australia asks Port Stephens Council’s approval for Bagnall Beach Road store.

TRRA has made submissions on both DAs, repeating our earlier concerns about integration with the existing shopping centre, pedestrian access, shade, and landscaping.  While we all welcome new investment, and new services, we question the public benefit of simply moving an existing store, and of a second servo.  The overall development of Council’s land at the Salamander Centre remains, in our view, a disappointing hotch-potch of fragmented ‘boxes’ and a major missed opportunity

Nelson Bay Town Centre – New apartments?

Apart from the current review of the Nelson Bay Strategy, with the major issue of building heights, How High ? – Community faces critical decision on Nelson Bay building heights?, we await a Council decision soon on the proposed 33 metre – 8 storey Ascent Apartments at 11-13 Church St.  The developer has been actively marketing the units – presumably anticipating approval.  TRRA submitted that a decision on this proposal – which is more than double the current height limit for the site, is premature until the Strategy review was complete and a community consensus reached on building heights.  TRRA Submission

Examiner 11 Jan 2017: Donald Street and Church Street apartment sites have faced historical financial and planning challenges

To be consistent, we made the same submission on another proposal for an apartment building further north on Church St at the corner with Donald St (65-67 Donald), While this one is for only 19 metres (6 storeys), it still well exceeds the current 15 metre height limit and should, we feel, also be deferred until the Strategy review is complete. TRRA Submission

Examiner 11 Jan 2017: Plans progress for Church Street and Donald Street apartment buildings

Examiner 30 Jan 2017: Heights, parking under review


 Soldiers Point Marina – Another round!

The applicant has appealed the JRPP refusal of the marina expansion to the Land and Environment Court.  A mass of new documents were lodged in the last two months of 2016 which the Soldiers Point Community Group made a great job of analysing, with the assistance of the Environmental Defender’s Office.  TRRA supported the local community with a further submission, which Council requested to help them continue their opposition to the expansion, on a number of environmental, traffic and amenity grounds.  The next Court hearing is in February. Soldiers Point Marina

For more Info keep checking the TRRA Website and come along to our General Meeting 7:00 pm Nelson Bay Bowling Club, 21 February 2017.

Lawyers Picnic at Lagoons Estate 2016

 Press Clippings Updated to 20 May 2016. 

I wonder what the new ‘City of the Hunter Coast Council’ will make of this when they get the multi-million dollar bill next year??? 

Posted 07 April 2016.

12 Years of litigation, and the only winners are the lawyers!

Lawyers1TRRA have been monitoring the developments in this story for some time. We last visited it in July 2015.  (‘Ratepayers Millions Down The Drain’, Link below) The ‘Fact and Timeline Report’ should get everyone up to speed. This could have been fixed 12 years ago for about $ 1.5 Mill, and almost was until someone though that by sitting on it for a while they could send the developer broke. That happened, but the problem did not go away…….. We shudder to think what all this has cost so far in legal fees and the failed attempt to fix it on the cheap. It has now been in the NSW Supreme Court the NSW Appeal Court, The Land and Environment Court and was knocked back for hearing in the High Court.  It is now back in the Supreme Court, and back in the press, but our Council is saying nothing! Next hearing date 08 April 2016. Watch this site for further updates, the briefings for Councillors will be confidential, while they try to keep it quiet. We have seen the PSC Long Term Financial Plan and there is no contingency to cover any of this.

TRRA Lagoons Estate Report 05 April 2016: Facts and Timeline – Lagoons Estate Development


Newcastle Herald 20 May 2016: Port Stephens Council paid a developer $750,000 for an agreement that didn’t hold water

Newcastle Herald 06 May 2016: Port Stephens Council’s drainage problems just got bigger

Newcastle Herald 5 April 2016: Port Stephens Council has until 5pm Wednesday to withdraw a key document from a legal case

Newcastle Herald 28 March 2016: Port Stephens Council is under challenge over a Nelson Bay development

Money-down-drain_20150719154518Ratepayer’s Millions Down the Drain?

Previous Article 19 July 2015

McCloy High Court Challenge Fails

High Court ChallengeMcCloy High Court Challenge

Newcastle Herald 07 October 2015: McCloy’s challenge rejected 

Newcastle Herald 07 October 2015: ANALYSIS: How the donation penny dropped 

Newcastle Herald 07 October 2015: OPINION: Power of corporate patrons 

Newcastle Herald 08 October 2015; OPINION: No risk to democracy in union donations 

The full decision is here: McCloy & Ors v State of NSW 

This is not over until the Fat Lady Sings or the developers run out of lawyer money………..!

Next episode is in the Supreme Court, November 2015.

Will The Port Stephens Ratepayers Ever Get the ‘Cabbage’ from the Cabbage Tree Road Sand Mine? Part 2


This story just keeps evolving as we research it. The Cabbage Tree Mine has now been on the agenda for the Council Meeting 28 July 2015, so this a continuation of the story from Part 1. However it now requires some more background on CQP from further evidence that has recently emerged.

Will The Port Stephens Ratepayers Ever Get the ‘Cabbage’ from the Cabbage Tree Road Sand Mine? Part 2


Local MP Takes On PSC Mayor

Macka may have finally met his match.


Kate 1Macka 3

It may have been easy to refuse public access and push people around at Council meetings when you are the Mayor, and abuse people at public meetings, but it may be another story when an elected representative starts taking you apart in Parliament under privilege with everything recorded in Hansard for all to see.

Kate Washington, newly elected, has stated that she won’t be intimidated by threats that she has received and has come out fighting. It is about time we got some representation in our parliament that is prepared to stand up for our local community and call these people out. It looks like that time has arrived………

Newcastle Herald 12 August 2015: MP launches fierce attack but mayor laughs it off

Here is the transcript of the full speech from Hansard, it is worth a read.

NSW Legislative Assembly Hansard 12 August 2015: MP Kate Washington

Newcastle Herald 14 August 2015: Spotlight on council actions

Newcastle Herald 15 August 2015: Council rejects MP’s lease claim

Newcastle Herald 19 Aug 2015: Mackenzie tells McKay: mind your own business

More on This:

Newcastle Herald 08 August 2015: Mayor’s mining company breached conditions

An Evening With Macka……………

Macka’s Sand To Increase Sand Truck Movements 200%

An Evening with Macka…………..


Examiner 13 December 2016: Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association issues apology to mayor Bruce MacKenzie

And in a parallel universe:

Examiner 26 December 2016: OPINION: Port Stephens Council and residents united in 2016 to fight to state government on merger proposal

“Of course, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that the people who live and visit Port Stephens are happy with their local area and their local council.
I’m not really one for statistics, but this year we achieved a community satisfaction rating of 86 per cent despite the turmoil.
That’s probably the greatest tribute of all.” – Mayor Bruce MacKenzie

Port Stephens Council 28 July 2015

Port Stephens Council

This is a story about last week’s Council meeting when about 100 people turned up including State MP Kate Washington and rallied outside Council. 

Council Meeting 2A

This is some of the reaction afterwards:

Examiner 06 Aug 2015: Letter to the Editor

150728 TRRA Letter to Councillors Re Cabbage Tree Mine

150810 PSC Response To TRRA Letter Re Cabbage Tree Mine

Newcastle Herald 28 July 2015: Chaos at Port Council meeting

Examiner 29 July: Explosive scenes at Port Stephens Council Port Stephens Council meeting gets heated 

1233 ABC Radio Interview 29 July 2015: This morning, 1233’s Paul Turton checked in with Port Stephens Mayor Bruce MacKenzie and Member for Port Stephens Kate Washington, after a rather eventful council meeting last night.

The Port Stephens Council meeting began with 30 to 40 angry protesters descending on the chambers, moved on to disputes, heckling, accusations and shouting matches, and ended with an unsuccessful “no confidence” motion by Cr Peter Kafer.

Mayor McKenzie and MP Washington told Paul their sides of the story, their individual opinions on the protesters, and engaged in a somewhat heated debate about the future of Port Stephens.

1233 ABC Radio Interview 29 July 2015: Port Stephens Council Meeting Gets Heated – Mayor Bruce Mackenzie and MP Kate Washington (Audio File- Turn up your speakers)

Newcastle Herald 30 July 2015: Mayor votes on sand mine despite conflict of interest

  • Clarification: Murray Towndrow was the Development Manager, Buildev NSW Pty Ltd. and was the employee of CQP that Council were negotiating the Cabbage tree Mine Lease with.  
  • Darren Williams was CEO of Buildev and the sole Director of Castle Quarry Products.
Breaking News, 29 July 2015:
We now have the Minutes from the 28 July Council. We have just discovered a Supplementary document that we were not aware of at the meeting. Supplementary Information This effectively parks this major controversy until after the next Council election! How convenient.
This mine was supposed to be producing 1.7 million dollars income per year for the rate payers from July 2016. How much more money is this continuing flirtation with Buildev, Tinkler and Co. going to cost us in grandiose plans that never get delivered? Whats the betting that we get to 28 Jan 2017 and they will be looking for another extension? How many chances do they get? So much for the forward estimates for the Council budget. and addressing the $29 Million backlog of maintenance and Infrastructure.

Newcastle Herald July 31: MICHAEL McGOWAN: Port needs fresh start

“From Newcastle, the view of the Port Stephens Council, when one is formed, is generally of an enigmatic basket case led under the quasi-dictatorial influence of Cr MacKenzie.”  – Michael McGowan

Local MP Takes On PSC Mayor

Council Meeting 1A


Macka’s Sand To Increase Sand Truck Movements 200%

Examiner 18 March 2016: Macka’s Sand gains approval for additional 14 truck movements 

Newcastle Herald 16 Feb 2016: Port Stephens mayor Bruce MacKenzie’s family sand quarry stands alone in compliance audit 

Update From Community Forum – 08 August 2015

Examiner 11 August 11: Mackas Sand truck movement concern

Newcastle Herald 08 August 2015: Mayor’s mining company breached conditions

The article in the Herald above pretty well covers what occurred at the well attended meeting at the Williamtown hall called by our State MP Kate Washington.

If you wish to make a submission you should go to the NSW Govt Planning & Environment website HERE and follow the instructions. Submissions will only be open until 19 August 2015. 

Community Forum

This is to notify members that there is a special meeting being held on Friday next 7th August commencing at 5 pm in the Williamtown Hall, Nelson Bay Road.

The public notice in the Examiner this week relating to the request for a substantial increase (200%) to the existing sand truck movements to and from the new Mackas Sand alternate road access (white fence on left) will be the main topic. An extension to operating hours is also being sought. TRRA Inc objected strongly to this road construction with major concerns for safety our main issue. It was approved with conditions relating to truck movements and operating hours to protect public safety and amenity for neighbours.

Kate Washington, MP who has followed the approval process for the construction of this road long before she became our local member is hosting this meeting. She has organized the following speakers:-
Anna Zycki, Hunter Regional Manager, Roads and Maritime Services; and
Mr Collin Phillips, Team Leader, Department of Planning & Environment. Mackas Sand

Your attendance would be greatly appreciated. Public safety is at risk.

Do you want more trucks coming on and off Nelson Bay Road?

Newcastle Herald 03 August 2015: Truck traffic set to soar

Newcastle Herald 04 August 2015:Extra traffic expected to exacerbate problems

ABC News 07 August 2015: Truck concerns prompt community forum

Newcastle Herald 19 Aug 2015: Mackenzie tells McKay: mind your own business