Boambee Valley land plan could be scrapped

AN AREA once earmarked for potential industrial development could be removed from a key planning document after environmental concerns were raised by the State Government.

Following feedback from the Department of Planning Industry and Environment, Coffs Harbour City Council staff are recommending a section of land in North Boambee Valley be removed from a strategic plan focused on future ‘employment lands’.

DPIE recommended the North Boambee Valley West Investigation Area be removed from the Local Growth Management Strategy due to environmental sensitivity and flood risk.

North Boambee Valley is home to some of the last remaining greenfield sites for development close to Coffs Harbour and has long been earmarked for future residential expansion.

Citing land mapped as High Environmental Value and vegetation mapped as primary koala habitat in the Investigation Area, Dimitri Young of DPIE’s Biodiversity and Conservation Division said the area should not be considered as future employment lands due to the range and significance of environmental constraints.

Even if there was a way to develop the site without removing vegetation, Mr Young noted flood risk impact and said rezoning would not be consistent with Council’s other strategic plans.

“Locating industrial lands along the waterways creates threats to water quality and relies on management interventions and compliance to mitigate these impacts,” he said.

“It is best to avoid these impacts in the first instance, by placing development away from waterways and other sensitive environmental areas.”

290-290a on North Boambee Road, together with a neighbouring lot, could account for 600 new low density dwellings in North Boambee Valley, west of the proposed bypass.
290-290a on North Boambee Road, together with a neighbouring lot, could account for 600 new low density dwellings in North Boambee Valley, west of the proposed bypass.

A supporter of development who made a submission on the LGMS said much of the land had already undergone “significant” environmental assessment to support rezoning and it should be prioritised.

They wanted Council to ensure landholders could begin submitting planning proposals by seeking DPIE’s endorsement for all land identified in the plan.

However, staff have analysed the recommendations by BDE and are recommending Councillors remove the Investigation Area from the plan due to the environmental constraints.

They state the flood risk in the area meant “substantial” flood mitigations works would have to be carried out and the amount of fill required was “likely to generate undesirable flood and environmental impacts downstream”.

Retired engineer Tad Soroczynski with Coffs Harbour City Council candidate Tony Judge on a recent tour of creeks in the Newports/Boambee Creek catchment.
Retired engineer Tad Soroczynski with Coffs Harbour City Council candidate Tony Judge on a recent tour of creeks in the Newports/Boambee Creek catchment.

That was welcome news to retired engineer and strategic planner, Tad Soroczynski, who has been outspoken about his fears over further development in North Boambee Valley.

Mr Sorozynski has warned failure to learn from past mistakes by developing in flood prone areas, particularly in the Newports Creek catchment, would lead to worsening floods.

The Pacific Highway, the Coffs Harbour Health Campus and many residential properties are located downstream and in 2009 the area was inundated.

“I am very pleased that this was taken into account,” Mr Soroczynski said.

“Engineering input needs to be taken into account for all future development, this is crucial.”

Councillors will now make a final decision on whether to take the Investigation Area out of the Local Growth Management Strategy, along with a number of other changes, during tomorrow’s council meeting.