TRRA’s view on the Building Heights issue, 2018


Council’s latest Draft placed on Exhibition on 21 February “Progressing the Nelson Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy” still includes a proposal to more than double building heights across Nelson Bay Town Centre based on the argument that this is essential for developers to achieve viability and to attract permanent residents to bolster retail businesses.

This time the proposal is to double the present height limit from 5 storeys (15 metres) to 10 storeys (35 metres) with an unconditional option to apply for more floors and for this to apply across the greater portion of the town centre.  (See a simulation photo of the impact on certain sites, as prepared for TRRA)

The Launch

Council’s plan for our town and its Implementation Program were launched under the slogan “Nelson Bay Next”. The one guest speaker, a developer, strongly promoted the idea of lifting the lid on height limits as did the Mayor and Council’s staff in their introduction.  The Mayor has highlighted that the document is still a draft and the Council can make changes as necessary following the exhibition prior to it being returned to Council for final adoption.  TRRA’s previous experience of these types of draft document exhibitions indicates otherwise.

TRRA believes that the height issue is critical to the future of Nelson Bay. 

The draft document entitled “Progressing the Nelson Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy” is exhibited on council’s website HERE and at the Tomaree Library.  It is a challenging and lengthy read and its companion should be a copy of the critique done by TRRA Planning Committee HERE when first released. A couple of minor corrections to tables are all that seems to have been changed by Council since it was “endorsed” by Council to go on exhibition at its meeting on 12th December 2017..

If you care about the future appearance and character of Nelson Bay please send your own  submission to Reference PSC 2007-1204V3 – Suggested wording below from our Planning Sub Committee. This is also available to copy and paste (and for you add to) from our Save Nelson Bay from High Rise Facebook page HERE

Council Did not Listen!

Council persists with the line we listened to you and now you have further opportunity to review the strategy (See introduction to PSC website post – link above).  However, its exhibited document acknowledges that of the 76 submissions received in February last year mentioning maximum building heights, “the vast majority was against any significant increase”Council did not listen!

TRRA has Listened to Others

Advice provided by long established Nelson Bay real estate professionals, and developers suggests that this a false hope, as a blanket 10 + zoning across the whole town area will actually increase uncertainty because new investors will never know if their project’s views will be built out.

The majority of local residents and visitors place high value on the coastal village ambience of Nelson Bay and the protection of view corridors to the wooded ridges and towards the bay. These principles were agreed for the 2012 Strategy.

TRRA calls for a more fine-grained stepped zoning across the amphitheatre thus sharing views. This would offer greater certainty to developers and unit purchasers.

Copies of recent TRRA press releases HERE provide more details of TRRA’s reasons for opposing this increase in heights.

The remainder of the Delivery  Program which focuses on implementing recommendations from the 2012 strategy relating to connecting to the foreshore,  landscaping, public spaces, traffic, parking and signage are for the most part acceptable. TRRA and other community and business groups agree that once these improvements are made, this will demonstrate to developers that the community is serious about growing a vibrant town.

TRRA acknowedges that Council has started the ball rolling on key elements with the Yacaaba Street extension and the successful application for a State grant of $70,000 to begin work on a public domain and landscaping strategy.  Two active TRRA members have joined the Civic Pride Group, a branch of Tomaree Business Chamber, to assist with negotiating and making some immediate improvements to the Town Centre.

TRRA looks forward to working in partnership with Council and other community groups to achieve the best outcomes for visitors to and residents of Nelson Bay.

Next steps

  1. Public Meeting 6 March – Complete
  2. Council will be holding two public information sessions scheduled for 7 March 2018 where people can ask questions, provide feedback regarding the Nelson Bay Strategy.  Both will be held at Apex Park, Nelson Bay, 1-3 pm and 4-6 pm.
  3. Submissions on Council’s Delivery Program are due on 4 April 2017.
  4. TRRA is:
  • Researching building height controls in the LEPs of comparable coastal towns.
  • Mounting a publicity campaign to raise public awareness (Newsletter, Facebook and media)
  • Working cooperatively with other community organisations (e.g.attending a Nelson Bay Now workshop on 3 March
  • Running street stalls at Nelson Bay and 2 days at Salamander Square (adjacent Target)
  • Facilitating individual submissions
  • Considering representations to Ministers, Ombudsman, Local Members if necessary.

Geoffrey Washington

President, TRRA Inc




Note:  A copy of this submission has been posted onto our Save Nelson Bay from High Rise Facebook page in a format which can be copied and pasted into a Word document, ready for you to add your own comments and then email to Council

Planning Department, Port Stephens Council

PO Box 42, Raymond Terrace,NSW 2324

cc: Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association Inc. (TRRA)

Reference: PSC 2007-1204V3

I strongly object to Council’s proposals to allow buildings of 10 and more storeys in the Nelson Bay town centre, more than doubling the current height limits.

The priorities for revitalizing Nelson Bay are parking; public domain improvements such as landscaping, lighting and signage, and design and maintenance standards.

Some modest increases in building height limits in appropriate locations, as agreed in 2012 but never implemented, may be acceptable and help to attract investment.  But allowing high rise apartment buildings throughout the town centre is not on. They would likely remain empty for most of the year and would irrevocably change the character of the town for the worse.  It is the low rise coastal village character of Nelson Bay that makes it attractive to residents and visitors alike.  The ‘natural amphitheatre’ with a backdrop of wooded hills and ridges must be preserved.

I call on Council to re-think its approach and to respect and support the vision for Nelson Bay clearly and repeatedly expressed by the community.

Signed                                                                                                  March 2018

Name and Address

(Optional) Email address:                                                             Phone:

Comments are closed.