PORT STEPHENS GATEWAY EXCELLENCE – PROJECT BRIEF

Project Mandate

To remediate the roadway entrance to Port Stephens for it to reflect the current Destination
Port Stephens marketing strategy as ‘Incredible by Nature’. This entails presenting a visual
impression along the road entry to Port Stephens as the premier regional NSW Tourism
destination.

Full Document – Click Here

Port Stephens Council Tree Management

As you are aware, TRRA, EcoNetwork Port Stephens and many other environment groups in Port Stephens have had serious concerns for a long time about Council’s tree management policy and related compliance monitoring and enforcement.
We briefly discussed these issues in our Zoom meeting with you on 8 September and promised to follow up with our concerns in writing. This letter does so, and we would welcome the opportunity to further discuss our ongoing concerns which relate to clearing on both private and public land.
The letter details our overall concerns, while the Attachment contains 3 case studies of recent clearing on public land.

Full Text – Click Here

Proposed ‘housekeeping’ amendments to the Port Stephens Local Environmental
Plan 2013 (LEP)

https://www.portstephens.nsw.gov.au/trim/other?RecordNumber=21%2F226534

We note that only 10 of the 13 proposed amendments were initially listed in the summary of the changes on thewebsite – this has subsequently been rectified.
It is also disappointing that the material on exhibition does not include a ‘tracked changes’ version of the LEP clearlyshowing all the proposed changes. This omission makes it very difficult for the public to fully understand theproposal and consider the implications of the changes.
As indicated on the website, most of the proposed amendments are of a technical nature designed to address minoradministrative matters, and are uncontroversial.

There are however a few amendments that have more substantive effect and on which we make the followingcomments.

Full Text – Click Here

We have no objection to this submission being made public in full and unredacted.

Draft Strategic Plan for Crown land in NSW

TRRA has made a detailed submission on a draft Strategic Plan for Crown land in NSW.  While an overall Plan is welcome, and it contains many welcome principles and objectives, we fear that will be used as a smokescreen and excuse for increased commercialisation of public land. The contribution of Crown land to environmental protection is constantly under threat.  We have made several suggestions for changes, including an emphasis on greater transparency and accountability, using the Port Stephens Council Holiday Parks as examples of how not to manage Crown land in the public interest.

Full Submission – Click Here

The Future of Nelson Bay

TRRA has made a comprehensive submission to Council objecting to the proposed increases in building heights and floor space ratio limits in the Nelson Bay Town Centre – Click Here (Be aware if printing it is 17 pages). The submission goes into a lot of detail – the key points which we encourage others to make in their own submissions remain those in the Submission Guide that has been available – Click Here for some time.  Submissions needed to be made by 5pm on Friday 14 August.

Last chance to object to high-rise in Nelson Bay Centre

Council is exhibiting proposed changes to the planning instruments (LEP and DCP) that are required to give final effect to the increased height limits and other changes adopted back in late 2018.

Most of the changes are positive and will help advance those aspects of the Nelson Bay Strategy that have broad support in the community.  BUT we think the height and floor space ratio (FSR) changes are a threat to the character of the town.

We call on everyone concerned about this to object and to remind Council that they are forcing these changes through against the clear wishes of the local community, repeatedly expressed over many years.

We have prepared this submission guide, suggesting some key points you may wish to include in a submission to Council, which needed to be received by 14th August. (Previously 30th July).

Full Submission Guide – Click Here

Port Stephens Council Tree Management – Draft changes to Development Control Plan (DCP)

The statement in the report to the 23 June 2020 Council meeting: ‘There are no policy changes proposed …’ is misleading. Council’s proposed introduction of a ‘self-certification’ regime, without input from a qualified arborist, as the means of implementing a 2017 State Government Vegetation policy[1], does in practice mean a significant (and undesirable) change to the Tree Management provisions.

In our view, the draft amendments:

  • make tree removal easier, increasing the risk of removal for inappropriate reasons
  • do not adequately support the objective of the 2017 State Government Policy – to preserve and protect trees
  • weaken Council’s ability to perform its legislated role under the 2017 Policy

Full Guide – Click Here

Full TRRA Submission – Click Here

[1] State Environmental Planning Policy (Vegetation in non-Rural Areas) 2017 (Vegetation SEPP)

Port Stephens Council – Draft Climate Change Policy

Welcome, if long overdue (Council has flagged need since at least 2009)

On Exhibition July 2020 – submissions by 5pm 24 July to council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au
Reference PSC2012-01402

For Policy – Click Here

Submission Guide from TRRA, EcoNetwork, and Climate Action PS

For Details – Click Here

Submission from TRRAClick Here

Improving the visual amenity of the approach to the Tomaree peninsula

TRRA has put a detailed proposal to Council for improving the visual amenity of the approach to the Tomaree peninsula along Nelson Bay Road. Click here Council staff have offered a meeting to discuss our ideas.

Nelson Bay Photographs Click Here

Nelson Bay height limits – an update

The Dept of Planning has issued its long awaited ‘Gateway Determination’ on PS Council’s Planning Proposal to amend the PS LEP 2013 to implement the Nelson Bay Town Centre ‘Delivery Program’[1] adopted by Council in September 2018.  Council submitted the Proposal in April 2019 – the Determination is dated 17 March 2020.  These processes work slowly!

The proposal involves changes to the height controls (major increases) and new controls on Floor Space ratios (FSR) and on activated and minimum street frontages.  The LEP has to be changed to make these new/amended controls ‘official’ although Council has already approved two DAs for major apartment buildings in the town centre that are double the current height limit.

TRRA made detailed submissions to the Dept of Planning about what we saw as the shortcomings and procedural failures in the Review of the Nelson Bay Strategy.  We are pleased that the Dept appears[2] to have recognised many of these weaknesses, and is now requiring Council to undertake substantial new work to support the proposal before it will be permitted to go on Exhibition, and has given an 18 month period in light of the amount of work required.  This means that we are unlikely to see LEP amendments on exhibition much before mid 2021.  As Council elections have been deferred due to the pandemic, this is likely to mean that it will be a new Council that finally decides if these changes go ahead unchanged.

We particularly welcome the following conditions: Council will need to:

  • submit a comprehensive ‘Urban design analysis’ that justifies the changes, includes a visual impact analysis, and demonstrates how the proposals will meet various requirements, most of which confirm that the Dept is sceptical about how well the proposal does so.  They appear particularly critical of the lack of information about the effect of higher buildings on views, local character, overshadowing etc. (our main concerns)
  • advertise related changes to the DCP alongside the LEP amendments
  • make public a summary of community consultation to date

On the downside, the Determination confirms Council as the plan-making authority for these LEP changes once all the conditions are satisfied – that means it will be our Councillors, rather than an independent panel, that makes the final decision. Also, no public hearing required (but it will have to come back to a Council meeting at which anyone can request ‘public access’).

We are also disappointed that the Determination has declined to accept our threshold argument that the Delivery Program height limit changes are fundamentally inconsistent with the objectives of the Strategy, and has also assessed the Proposal as consistent with State and Local planning instruments in a number of other respects which we had challenged.

The Report does not comment on the fact that two DAs for apartment buildings twice the current height limit have been approved in the last 4 years but neither has gone ahead, somewhat undermining Council’s main argument that increased heights is necessary to attract new developments. This will be one of our main submissions in due course.

Overall, this is very good news for those of us who believe Council’s obsession with increased heights is misguided and against the public interest. It is not yet a ‘done deal’.

[1] In full, the Progressing the Nelson Bay Town Centre and Foreshore Strategy – a revised Implementation and Delivery Program.

[2] As well as the Conditions it has imposed, the Dept also issued a 27 page report detailing a number of ways in which the current Proposal was not considered adequate. See http://leptracking.planning.nsw.gov.au/proposaldetails.php?rid=6069

Community Vision for the Future of Tomaree Headland, Shoal Bay, Port Stephens

TRRA Inc has been working with a consortium of community, business and environmental groups, “ Friends of Tomaree Headland”  to develop a prospectus for the future of this iconic site once its current use comes to an end in 2020. A copy of the prospectus and a covering Press Release Follow.

In reacting to the Friends’ prospectus, the member for Port Stephens Kate Washington and the Liberal candidate for Port Stephens Jaimie Abbott both announced on 4 February commitments to retain the site of Tomaree Lodge in public ownership and to consult with the community on its future use.

Harvey Norman DA at Taylors Beach

Harvey Norman are proposing a major development at Taylors Beach to include their own large store, another servo, fast food outlet and 19 other industrial lots. While much of the site is already cleared (illegally over a decade ago) the proposal will clear even more vegetation including 28 koala feed trees.

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We urge concerned individuals to make a submission by Friday 31 January – see Link or just email council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au with ‘DA 2019-815 – Objection’ in the subject line. Key grounds for objection are loss of further fauna habitat, stormwater drainage issues, traffic generation and loss of visual amenity. We believe that in the context of climate change, bushfires and existential threat to our koala population, Council needs to re-think its approach to approving major developments even on land already zoned for business use.


Resort at 58 Gan-Gan Rd, Anna Bay

There is a current DA for a 247 unit resort at 58 Gan-Gan Rd, Anna Bay, next to the currently derelict ‘Birubi Beach Resort’ site. Council has only advertised the DA for the minimum required exhibition period and submissions were due by 7 November 2019.  A meeting at the site was arranged by the South Tomaree Community Association for 10am Friday 1 November which was attended by State MP Kate Washington.

Full Details Click Here

TRRA’s objection document – Click Here


Fingal Link Road – let us know what you think.

The State Government has committed $188 million to the construction of a Fingal Link Road, and the RMS is currently in the planning stage before consulting publicly.  TRRA thinks it is important for the community to consider both the rationale for such a road and the pros and cons of alternative routes.  We invite comment on our discussion paper Click Here.  We will collate feedback and provide it to the RMS and Council as input to their planning process.

‘Have Your Say’ : Click Here

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1 Yacaaba Street up for Sale

For details – Click here


Council fails the community on Nelson Bay High-rise

We are sad to report that Council has approved the 9-storey apartment building at 1 Yacaaba St, by a vote of 9 to 1, against the recommendation of its own planners, and ignoring the clear weight of opposition to high rise development in the town centre.  We are particularly disappointed in our three East Ward Councillors – Dunkley, Nell and Abbott, who all voted for a last minute motion, with less than half an hour’s notice, from Mayor Palmer to approve the controversial proposal. Our thanks go to Cllr Arnott who alone opposed approval but was denied even the opportunity to move the published recommended motion to refuse.

Unfortunately there is no merits appeal option and while we think there are strong grounds to question the process that has led to the approval, a judicial review appeal is beyond our means. We can see three possible scenarios now. The development may go ahead and successfully sell to permanent residents, in which case there may at least be some benefit to compensate for the sacrifice of the town’s character. More likely is eventual completion but with sales mainly to investors, and a majority of units unoccupied for most of the year – the same sacrifice but with little long term benefit. A third scenario is for the site to remain undeveloped, like the one at Church Street approved in 2017. The threat of further tower blocks which would obscure views could well ruin the commercial prospects and sterilise the revitalisation prospects of the town.

TRRA believes that Council has now missed the opportunity to set a clear vision for the town that respects its unique geography and character. We remain strongly of the view that sensible new height limits, such as the modest increases agreed back in 2012, together with all the other aspects of the Nelson Bay Strategy which have broad support, could have attracted investment to revitalise the town. Instead, Council has voted to allow a more than doubling of the height limits across large areas of the town centre. Given the uncertainty this will create, landowners will now be trapped by a toxic mix of fear and greed, likely to result in a continued moratorium on new development.

There will be one last opportunity to challenge Council’s flawed vision, when the proposed new height limits adopted in September 2018 are put on exhibition as changes to the Local Environmental Plan later this year.  But with 9 of our 10 elected representatives having made their position clear, a challenge is not likely to succeed.  We should perhaps look instead to the September 2020 Council election at which Councillors will be held to account for their decisions.

TRRA’s Committee is considering what further action the community could take, including strong representations to the Minister for Planning on the flawed process followed by Council over the last few years and the implications of their approvals of major height variations for the character of the town. It is clear that there is a major backlash against overdevelopment throughout NSW, and even the pro-development State government is having second thoughts about its support for high rise development in many areas.

This image (from the DA) demonstrates the visual impact, by reference to the existing buildings to north and south.

TRRA’s July Submission – Click Here

November Submission – Click Here

More – Click Here


Sandmines in Port Stephens
Lot 424 Halifax Holiday Park.
Lagoons Estate Story
2017 Port Stephens Council Elections Page
Council Mergers/Amalgamations Page
I.C.A.C. Archive

TRRA PRESIDENT’S ANNUAL REPORT 2018/19 – 14 October 2019

The Report presented by President, Geoff Washington, to the TRRA Annual General Meeting on 15 October, 2018 is available – Click Here.  This includes a Planning Committe report for 2018/19.

AGM Minutes  Click Here

All TRRA General Meeting dates for 2019 – Click Here

Dates for 2020 – Click Here

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