Personal Submissions from the Hastings Point Community
The Story of Lot 156, Hastings Point
- Developer Fraud
- Developer Theft of Crown Land
- Government Negligence
- Developer Illegal clearance of environment.
- Developer Illegal filling of flood plain and estuaries
- Legal prosecution by Council but no real action.
- Developer Bribery attempts.
- All for What? A development on a raised floodplain
- Result – FLOOD – hundreds of homes and lives at risk!!!
Please view the following links to gain a full perspective of Professional Submissions and Reports completed by experts in their field and presented to the NSW Department of Planning in opposition to the proposed development for Lot 156 because of its adverse impact on the local community and the unique and fragile ecosystem of Hastings Point:
Lot 156 is the latest area of Hastings Point, New South Wales, under threat from unsustainable development. The information below explains the the history of Lot 156, the proposed development, and its potential impact upon this fragile ecosystem.
30 years of fraud and bumbling government negligence leave 400 mostly elderly residents to Flood in Hastings Point.
How could this Happen some Ask?
History of Lot 156
Theft and Destruction of Land by First Owner – 1980’s
Lot 156 first came under threat in 1981 when the previous landowner, Neville Wintour, retained the services of a surveyor to fraudulently adjust his boundaries through a misrepresentation of the mean high water mark (see explanation below).
The Department of Lands negligently accepted the application without a real assessment.
Mr Wintour then jumped in his barge and started dredging the estuary and filling other parts of the estuary and low lying flood plain to justify his fraudulent boundary adjustment. He stole 7.5 hectares of Crown Land from the community to create a site that the current owner – Walter Elliot – seeks now to develop. (see above marked stolen land)
In this process, Mr Wintour also destroyed vast areas of protected mature mangroves and trees which covered various areas of the site. (See photos of his barge at work – photo 1 right hand corner – and tiny part of destruction below).
Council sued Mr Wintour thinking he was illegally dredging on crown land. However, during the proceedings, it learned of the dodgy boundary adjustment. It continued the lawsuit on the basis that he had dredged the estuary and filled land without development consent.
The litigation spanned a period of years with Council finally succeeding. Mr Wintour was prevented from further dredging and filling the land. As part of the Court orders, Council was given the opportunity to seek remediation of the damaged land.
COUNCIL DID NOTHING.
Neither Tweed Shire Council nor the Department of Lands have sought to adjust the boundaries to correctly reflect the real mean high water mark despite numerous requests, complaints and detailed evidence of the theft of the land (estuary).
So, we amusingly have the current owner of the land as depicted owning a large portion of estuary well below the mean high water mark, including the dredged part of the estuary which they neatly term a “man made pond”. Totally fraudulent claims. It is and was always part of the estuary. It is tidal and now connected to Christies Creek following the filling of the adjacent former estuary that ran through lot 156 and assisted in draining the floodplain.
Destruction of Land in 2000’s by Second and Current Owner
In 2001, Walter Elliot Holdings purchased LOT 156 from Neville Wintour’s deceased estate for just over $1 mill given its significant environmental and flooding constraints being located in a flood plain in an area of protected wetlands and delicate estuary.
Like a completely greedy and irresponsible developer with knowledge of the previous damage done by its predecessor, Walter Elliot proceeded to inflict further carnage on this block as it illegally destroyed a low lying melaleuca forest (north west portion of the site) and mature trees on the south eastern portion of the block. This was done to create a development opportunity where none existed. They propose to place houses and a road on part of these two portions. (show on map 2 and 3)
This damage was done on a long weekend while the Council was not at work. Council took legal action but eventually settled the case through a “behind closed doors” agreement which did not incorporate remediation of the land they destroyed which they now seek to develop – surprise, surprise.
The COUNCIL SCREWED THE COMMUNITY AGAIN!
Walter Elliot then proceeded to plant grass seed on the destroyed land to overtake natural flora (and create a maintenance opportunity to mow down natural regrowth by falsely claiming they need to maintain their property). It then ran horses and goats on the block to destroy further environmentally sensitive areas where there was no zoning for livestock. Again, this was stopped with only a slap on the wrist.
Council continues to allow Walter Elliot to mow destroyed areas even in 7A protected zones so preventing the land from rejuvenating naturally – as it has where Walter has not mowed – so allowing a developer to gain from its own illegal conduct. Council now continues to allow Walter Elliot to mow this land under the false “guise” of maintenance so preventing any possible regrowth – this includes on Council’s own admission endangered ecological communities. Walter Elliot now seeks to destroy further endangered ecological communities by kindly offsetting such destruction with the rejuvenation of the very land they degraded. How noble!
This is morally and legally disgraceful. It is akin to going to a court with dirty hands and asking for a favour. Will the NSW Department of Planning grant this favour? This conduct should be admonished not rewarded! In June 2010 while their new proposal was on exhibition, Walter Elliot was sprung cutting down branches and the understorey of a 7A protected littoral rain forest – readying themselves for a department visit.
The Council finally fined them the maximum $3,000 – chicken feed really for a developer of this size – certainly not a deterrent.
See map below for location of destruction and damage as per the above numbered photos.
The Current LOT 156 Proposal
So what is the current proposal. In short, it comprises 70 dwellings – 34 single dwellings, 6 dual occupancies, 10 townhouses and 20 apartments that are built to a floor level which is up to 3.1 m – fill up to 2m high and no doubt more as Council now requires the fill to be 0.4m higher as recommended following the results of the Tweed Byron Coastal Creeks Study 2009.
This development and its emergency access road which runs on the southern side of houses abutting the estuary effectively encases a community of near 400 residents, predominantly elderly – Good idea Walter!!!
Tweed Shire Council’s flood experts, engineers, flood consultants (BMT WBM Engineers) and the community’s newly retained expert Hydrologists (MWA Enviro) stress that this development will significantly increase flood hazard to a level clearly contrary to law.
Past illegal filling of the former estuary already causes the community to flood as evidenced by the 2005 flood. There were two earlier floods since the late 70’s of similar magnitude. The 2005 flood created water levels in the local properties and streets up to knee and waste high as evidenced by these photographs.
The recent Tweed Byron Coastal Creeks Study confirmed what the community has already experience – flood inundation of up to 1 m.
So Walter Elliot for a risky $1 mill investment seeks enormous returns by worsening an already existing problem and putting the lives and properties of 400 residents – 350 elderly – at even greater risk. Good one Walter!!!
Walter Elliot has destroyed the environment, tried to bribe Council and obtained incomplete and inaccurate expert reports and models to patch together what must be a last ditch effort to develop land which should not be developed – land which experts now strongly claim should be rezoned and rehabilitated to what it was – a wetland environment that acts as the only floodplain in the catchment. In short, without it, the locals flood and the unique environments that exist and are already stressed are destroyed.
It is sadly ironic that the rezoning of coastal property under such serious threat is recommended under State Policies – NSW Coastal Policy 1997 and the NSW Department of Planning recent Draft Sea Level Rise Policy. If the tenants of these policies were actually followed, this development would not see the light of day.
We need planners and ministers with backbones to correct the wrongs of the past, take responsibility for their failures in the past to address breaches of the law which have left a community and environment under serious threat and siege.
Unfortunately, the NSW Department of Planning under the infamous Part 3A of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act has ignored independent authorities and experts (Tweed Shire Council and BMT WBM), their studies and intimate knowledge of the area to grant Walter a sniff at big dollars at the expense of the people and environment they are meant to protect.
See map below for location of flooding as per the above numbered photos.