Tweed Shire Council, PO Box 816, Murwillumbah NSW 2484
Attention: David O’Connell and General Manager
Submission from HASTINGS POINT PROGRESS ASSOCIATION
for LOT 156, Creek St – DA17/0102 17 lot community title subdivision at Lot 156, DP 628026, No 40, Creek Street, Hastings Point
As residents/owners in Hastings Point we remain deeply concerned about development on Lot 156, Creek Street, Hastings Point as outlined in DA17/0201
The financial and time cost to both Council and the community over the past 33 years has been considerable.
Community concerns have been signalled to Council in thousands of letters and petitions since 1984. We request that all information provided by the community in former submissions be re-considered in relation to the current proposal.
Our concerns remain very clear.
- There appear to be significant discrepancies between the ‘modelling’ of water flow impact on the estuary and surrounding properties, and actual lived experience.
- While Creek Street remains in its current condition, public health and safety are severely at risk.
- There is clear evidence that the estuary, following the illegal clearing and filling activities of the past, is now trying to re-find a path and this flows right through the centre of the proposed development site. This cannot be reasonably resolved by ‘good engineering’. It requires a re-opening of the original estuarine and tributary pathways.
- There is further clear evidence with most of the illegal activity on the site being stopped for the past year, that where allowed, mangroves and other flora are re-establishing, and endangered bird-life such as jabiru and curlew are returning to nest including the beach stone curlew.
- There is no guarantee that single houses and not multi-dwellings will be built on site.
- Sewerage will be impacted, especially in low-lying homes in Creek Street. Developer will need to pay for upgrade and upkeep.
Water flows from a large, 60 square kilometre catchment, under the Highway at Cane’s Road and into the Christie’s Creek Estuary. The highway reduces the immediate flow so although water into the estuary is slowed, it still has to find its way into the estuary so, combined with the associated super-saturation of soil which occurs, the period of flow will necessarily be extended.
Because the estuary, at Hastings Point, was excavated illegally, a tributary estuary was filled illegally, and a dam constructed illegally, flood water is unable to travel its original path. A rogue house was constructed on the property in such a position that the owners could argue the dam could not be reopened. As such, estuarine flow now moves in a north-west- south-east manner, directly through the proposed development site. During heavy floods such as the 2005 flood, water was also pushed across through the Big4 NorthStar Park and swung around to a north-south direction as it flowed across Creek Street and into the estuary, inundating properties in both NorthStar and Creek Street.
Recent rain events have also shown some shift in weather patterns and impact on the estuary, depending on where rain actually falls.
These multi-directional flows of water are not addressed in this proposal.
Should this development be permitted, this will exacerbate the issue of both flood water and storm water run-off which will directly impact all other surrounding properties.
FLOODING and DRAINAGE
- This proposal will, again, lead to adverse impact on local drainage and flooding.
- The proposal still relies on dated, inaccurate flood assessments/ modelling and inaccurate actual waterflows – particularly 2005 flood, as the new engineers recently commissioned have been supplied with incorrect, old data on which to develop their modelling.
- We further note that Coffs Harbour in 2009, exceeded the 1 in 100 flood levels 5 times, which brings into question modelling which is used to establish flood levels.
- Again, there is failure to consider size of proposal and excessive pressure on rescue/evacuation services for local area with no emergency evacuation egress. It is excessive already.
- Stormwater drains located at 2 Creek St, and Peninsula Street, which go directly into the creek, routinely fill to capacity in heavy storms and on an incoming king (or often high) tide there is simply no-where for stormwater to escape. This has been observed much more frequently in the past 12 months.
- Photos, videos and powerpoint presentations have been supplied to TSC and DoP of the 2005 flood and other events on several occasions. We ask that these be re-considered under this current submission. Summary photos of 2005 flood 2016 and 2017 inundations are integrated into this submission.
- There are serious questions regarding the regional and local flood modelling given that they incorrectly depict areas dry on Lot 156 and various parts of the Northern Precinct which were under ½-1 m of water in the 2005 flood and seriously inundated in heavy rain events.
- On the basis of these flawed models, the community does not accept that there will be no increase in flood hazard to them. These inaccuracies are serious. OPUS was corrected by Danny Rose on the flow directions but the applicant’s experts continue to misrepresent or omit them.
- Given the true directional flows of water in the Northern Precinct, fill in Creek St is a serious issue and the consent authority requiring fill for existing houses or a small no. of additional houses should be reconsidered. Raised houses can provide sufficient flood immunity and at the same time reduce storm water and flooding impacts on other residents. It would improve permeability of water and protect the integrity of the ground water for the local environment.
This proposal attempts to dismiss the 2005 flood event as a 1:100 event. Modelling of such events does not take into account recent weather events seen as recently as this week and in South Australia (Oct 2016)
Inundation of the proposed site is common. Water does not dissipate for days due to the height of groundwater and cannot be diverted. (Photos attached)
There is no accommodation for any level of sea-level rise in this proposal. Given the recent, serious ingress of sea to Kingscliff beach necessitating seawall development, Pottsville beach necessitating seawall development, severe erosion of Hastings Point Beach, and experience by local residents of incoming tidal seawater filling stormwater drains in Hastings Point on a regular basis, and recent major flood events with the Tweed River at Murwillumbah, Kingscliff and Chinderah, it is a reasonable assumption that if this development proceeds, a major seawall construction would also be required in the near future – to be funded by ratepayers or state govt? This is an unnecessary and unreasonable impost to future generations when there is a very reasonable alternative which exists.
Given national and international concerns and legislative requirements regarding sea-level rise and climate change realities, Councils have been advised against enabling development in highly sensitive areas such as this proposed development. Once again the Precautionary Principle must be invoked. To fail to do so will inevitably unleash a slew of class actions against those responsible.
On 16 March 2017, the Office of Environment & Heritage made a call on NSW local councils to apply for floodplain management grants to assist councils in carrying out floodplain management projects to help manage flood risk. This is consistent with the requirements of the Coastal Policy of NSW where Council’s have a duty to address existing hazardous conditions – certainly not make them worse. The proposed amendments to the DCP-Hastings Point B23 allowed for remediation of land to address environmental, drainage and flooding issues. The most obvious option is to ensure that the illegal filling which caused the problems is removed. How long must a community wait and endure such flooding risk for authorities to act – remediate a problem that they negligently failed to address when it occurred.
This should be an objective of Council and if the land is not resumed to attend to this current issue caused by illegal filling, it should become a condition of consent of this application.
- Any level of fill is inappropriate for this property. Any proposed development must be required to use stump housing for homes along the Creek Street extension ONLY, rather than fill to enable uninhibited flow of water during major storm events. Given that the developer is simply proposing to subdivide the property and then jettison any future responsibility for the site, the long term interests of neighbouring residents and businesses appear of no concern to them.
- There is unacceptable cumulative impact of fill on the local community, ecology, local drainage, flooding, catchment conditions. Others will have to fill to detriment to those that can’t.
- This developer has a seriously flawed record with the use of fill on this site and their other sites at 4 and 6 Creek Street. Mistakes by Council in relation to approvals for such fill have resulted in changes in direction and volume of water flow on neighbouring properties
Creek St must be upgraded BEFORE and further consideration of development on this site.
Creek Street is currently, arguably, the worst street in the Tweed Shire, and the most hazardous to pedestrians. Three local residents, including a blind resident, have sustained broken bones from tripping in potholes. Car traffic speeds along the street, even in its current state, so any improvement must include significant traffic calming measures to prevent serious accidents. This will be incompatible with heavy construction machinery being able to access Creek Street – and retain both pedestrian and car safety.
- The increase in traffic volume, which will far exceed 100% will create excessive noise and endanger the number of young children in the street who currently play together on the grassed verges.
- There is no curb barrier in Creek St. This is not wanted by residents but this is a safety issue.
- No consideration is proposed for the elderly and disabled (blind) residents of the street and show no understanding of the existing community or any level of consultation.
TWEED COAST RD INGRESS and EGRESS and PUBLIC SAFETY
Proposed changes to the intersection of Coast Rd and Creek St will have a significant impact both on public safety, and on the properties on that intersection.
To enable construction traffic to enter Creek Street, the pedestrian island would need to be removed. It cannot be shifted because of the bus stops. The rapid increase in traffic in the past 12 months makes it extremely difficult to safely cross Coast Rd now for our blind, disabled and elderly residents, as well as the thousands of students who come to Hastings Point specifically to learn about the special environment here.
The entrance to Creek Street, and the egress into Creek Street will also impact on the investment and commercial returns of owners. Rental and holiday accommodation will be particularly impacted and will require compensation including the construction of suitable noise barriers.
These owners invested in good faith, as did every other owner in Creek Street, and are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their properties and to a return which is not damaged by being surrounded by unnecessary road and construction noise.
A number of residents have already indicated that, should this development be permitted to progress, they will be forced to move out- and will require compensation for that inconvenience and disruption.
Tweed Coast Road access requires a number of assumptions each of which provides significant risk to the environment and other owners in Creek Street
This development will place our lives and properties at risk, particularly because of flooding.
This will decrease the value of our properties and increase the cost of insurance.
Appropriately raised emergency access roads do not exist for residents of Creek Street or North Star Resort and increased flood hazard will trap us in flood times.
Owners and Residents fear for their safety, life and ability to access safe refuge.
Reliance on dated traffic assessments, failure to adequately consider traffic impact and pedestrian island, speed mitigation, construction impact and street character requirements including natural green verges for amenity, filtration and drainage requirements.
Functioning of the sewerage pumping station in Creek Street remains of ongoing concern to residents in the area over the past decade. Any increase in volume through the station is of deep concern until current issues are resolved. For the past two decades residents have been assured the issues around the pumping station have been resolved. To date they have not.
Sewers of low-lying homes in Creek Street are already impacted with the sewerage lines being backed up during flooding. With a greatly increased volume flow this will overwhelm the current sewerage line which runs behind homes in Creek Street.
Please note one photo example of toilet which fills with flood water during rain events.
Flora and Fauna
- The failure to incorporate appropriate buffers from the development and the changes in hydrology through filling the site will have a significant impact on local fauna and flora.
- There are significant endangered species and migrating birds in the area that require specific riparian zoned areas which contain EEC communities which are vital for their survival. These have already been severely impacted by ongoing mowing activity on the site.
- Significant Impact assessment (EPBC Act and Threatened Species Act) is crucial given the number of migratory and endangered birds that use this corridor and edges of Lot 156 as habitat.
- Failure to accurately address the adverse impact of storm water/drainage on the environment – estuary, flora and fauna.
- Reliance on deficient and outdated flora and fauna surveys and deficient groundwater investigations which fail to determine real or cumulative impact on the receiving environment
- Failure to properly consider the existing ecological and hydrological conditions to know what impact changed conditions will have in the future.
- No real assessment/mapping of sea level rise impact on ecology and hydrology – including saltmarsh.
- No proper assessment of impact on endangered and protected species – including Koalas, the beachstone curlew and jabiru – seen in and adjacent to this site.
- No recognition or provision for adequate environmental restoration, protection, planning and community consultation required by Hastings Point DCP.
- The development is too big/too close to natural flora/fauna/ecology of the area.
- Disturbance impacts created by this proposal are excessive.
Fauna are being damaged by this development. Note photos of python run over and killed by ride-on mower, plovers whose nest was destroyed by ride-on mower, goanna caught in barbed wire fence. (Photos attached)
Photos also demonstrate that mowing is now encroaching on Environment zones and that approx. 1 metre has been ‘reclaimed’ by the owner through mowing.
As previously indicated, lack of disturbance on the site sees an immediate impact in the self-restoration of mangroves, saltmarsh and other flora, and the return of fauna and birdlife.
Groundwater and Saltmarsh
Groundwater is a dynamic resource around an estuary and cannot be measured in a single ‘snapshot.’ The level of groundwater in Hastings Point varies on a daily basis and as such the estuary and aquifers both require the largest possible saltmarsh zones to retain estuary health. And to prevent/protect from damage to the water table in increasingly regular major tidal/rain events.
Saltmarsh is also a dynamic resource and cannot be confined to a ‘zone’. Existing Saltmarsh is mown weekly by the developers in order to claim a ‘grassed area’ however inspection of the site clearly shows immature saltmarsh species attempting to regenerate. The speed of regeneration of this area, when this is allowed to occur, is seen clearly in the Part 7A zone – which has regrown substantially in the past 4 years.
Photographic evidence of water remaining across the site 48 hours after the rain stopped, from a relatively minor ‘rain event’ in June 2016 clearly demonstrates the super-saturation of soil and height of groundwater in the area of proposed construction (see photos…)
EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC
- The proposed development will significantly impact the environment and in turn the potential viability of the education programme run by Hastings Point Marine Education Centre. This receives thousands of students annually.
- It also impacts on the potential return of investment and holiday owners of North Star and 2 Creek Street as the safety and amenity of the area is significantly impacted.
- In reducing the amenity and increasing the flood hazard to the area, it reduces the value of people’s properties considerably.
- Any claim by the proponent that reducing the development would provide no economic return to him is false. Given that the developer paid $1.2 mill for the land, a small development of 6 as previously proposed by the community would still provide him with a great return.
AMENITY and PUBLIC SAFETY
The Hastings Point community has fought since 1980 to preserve the amenity of this area and the DCP for the area was established in 2010 after years of comprehensive and painstaking consultation. This must be adhered to. Lot 156 Creek St is an integral component of this DCP. A number of components of this proposal show no understanding at all of the needs of the existing and future local communities, but rather seek to impose what they perceive to be ‘improvements’ in the form of a routine, unspecified and unnecessary ‘community lot’ which are of grave concern in terms of risk factors.
Further the large area which will remain mown is clearly preparation for a future application of modify use with the intention to see more properties as has happened with new developments across the Tweed Shire.
It is also noted that jetskis are currently being launched from Lot 156 directly into the estuary which are disturbing mangrove flora and fauna, and putting public safety at risk. This is a significant issue already with only one house on the development.
This proposal is:
- Uncharacteristic with the low lying character of Creek St and adjoining properties.
- Inconsistent with proposed planning amendments including a 75m buffer, suburban-style lots, no/minimal fill.
- Provides no specific mosquito & biting midge assessment in respect of subject DA.
- Adverse visual impact of houses in Creek St, too close to estuary and viewing from east
PLANNING – GENERAL
DEVELOPER TRACK RECORD
This developer should not be allowed to profit from accumulated misdeeds perpetuated by both themselves and the previous owner.
Failure by successive agencies to enforce the restitution of Christies Creek estuary/tributaries has resulted in an inappropriate zoning being attributed to this site. Urban residential zoning provides for a range of types of housing within the constraints of the site. It is clear that the most appropriate form of development on this site, if there is to be any at all, is a total of 8-10 raised stump houses along the Creek Street extension between the 30 Creek Street and the current entrance to the Lot 156 site.
The current owner purchased the site in the full knowledge that it was highly constrained yet has continued to degrade the land, the estuary and the community in his own commercial interests to the detriment of every other owner.
In short, the constraints to the land in respect of “adjoining environmental zones, flooding, acid sulphate soils, flora and fauna protection, the identified visual settings, sea level rise and access” have been specifically addressed by HPDC in respect of the Lot 156 site to conclude: “As such development of the site is problematic”.
The legal support to respect these constraints exists and should be applied. In considering the constraints of the land, it is a recurring mandate in HPDC to protect and restore/re-establish where clearing and changes to the landform have occurred.
The developer and predecessors have exacerbated flood risk through damming the Cudgera Creek estuary, and erection of the single house on the site. Photographic evidence shows clearly that the estuary is finding a new path – right through the proposed development site.
The only solution to these issues is that the original estuary must be reinstated prior to any further consideration of proposals for this site.
We also request that ALL previous submissions and petitions formerly provided to the Department of Planning by the Hastings Point Progress Association and residents, in relation to Lot 156, be reconsidered under this current submission process.
We finally note that Tweed Shire Council has a Duty of Care for existing residents which we expect to be honoured. We reserve the right to take class action if necessary.