A development application for the demolition of several shacks will be considered by Councillors at their October meeting.
A development application for the demolition of several shacks will be considered by Councillors at their October meeting.

Council admin error delays demolition debate

An administration error has delayed debate on the demolition of the iconic boatsheds along the Kalang River at Urunga.

The matter was due to be discussed by Bellingen Shire Councillors at their September 23 meeting.

With such a high level of public interest in the fate of the shacks there were 19 public submissions made when the demolition DA went on public exhibition.

Two were in support of the application, while the rest objected.

Council procedure dictates that all of those who made a submission should be contacted and given the opportunity to address Councillors when the matter is up for consideration.

This procedure was not followed; therefore the matter has been delayed until their October meeting to allow it to take place.

Historic boathouses on the Kalang River at Urunga.
Historic boathouses on the Kalang River at Urunga.

The cabins continue to divide public opinion - some describing them as iconic structures providing a link to the town's heritage while others see them as dangerous eyesores taking up valuable public land.

In 2001 a petition against a proposal to demolish seven of the buildings attracted 1,600 signatures and was reported in the Sydney media.

The development application to be considered by Councillors in October is for the demolition of six buildings and associated concrete slabs and footings at Atherton Drive Reserve - four of the fishing shacks and an old scout hall and boatshed.

The ones slated for demolition have been deemed a public safety risk. They're also subject to vandalism and unauthorised occupation.

The work is estimated to cost $240,000.

Remediation work to treat asbestos will also need to be undertaken.
Remediation work to treat asbestos will also need to be undertaken.

The work will also include decommissioning the onsite sewage management systems associated with the buildings to be demolished; vegetation pruning and clearing to enable demolition; and remediation works within five metres of each building to treat asbestos and zinc contamination of the soil.

If the demolition goes ahead this will leave seven of the fishing shacks - five have existing use arrangements in place and two will be assessed for a range of future use options.

The remaining boathouses could be turned into ‘iconic’ accommodation.
The remaining boathouses could be turned into ‘iconic’ accommodation.

Council's heritage officer supports the concept of redeveloping some of the remaining boathouses to create iconic riverside accommodation which will reflect the history and heritage of the area for tourists.

European settlers established Urunga in 1868 as a pilot station and loading point for goods produced upstream prior to sea transportation.

The buildings are all located on the banks of the river within the peninsular of land known as the Atherton Drive Precinct.

The precinct is part of Bellinger Heads State Park. There is a Park Trust and this trust is jointly managed by the NSW State Government (Crown Lands) and Bellingen Shire Council.

Several years and rounds of public consultation culminated in the release of the Master Plan For Atherton Drive Foreshore Precinct in October 2018.

The masterplan outlined a number of priorities including urgent riverbank erosion and bank stabilisation works and work on the Urunga Lido tidal pool - much of which has already been completed.