LONG BATTLE: People holding up signs at the proposed location of the 57-lot development last year.
LONG BATTLE: People holding up signs at the proposed location of the 57-lot development last year.

Court battle over controversial DA terminated

The drawn out legal battle over a controversial Sawtell development has stalled with those opposed to the venture claiming it as a win for people power.

The proposed Lot 2 Sawtell Road housing development has been the subject of a Land and Environment Court conciliation process.

This week the process was terminated with lawyers acting on behalf of Coffs Harbour City Council and the proponent Regional Ethical Developments (RED) unable to reach a compromise.

The proposal would see bushland cleared to make way for a 57-lot subdivision.

The site fronts Sawtell Road opposite the Linden Avenue intersection and continues through to the Hogbin Drive Industrial Estate.

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It includes approximately six hectares recognised and mapped as Primary Koala Habitat in the Coffs Harbour City Council Koala Plan of Management 1999. Another section has been mapped in the Coffs Harbour LEP as an Endangered Ecological Community (Coastal Paperbark and Sedge land swamp habitat).

The proposal was first submitted to council in April last year and as residents became aware of the plans they soon mobilised in opposition forming the group: Save Lot 2 Sawtell Road.

The matter was later referred to the Land and Environment Court after council failed to approve it in the required time frame making it a 'deemed refusal'.

 

IN SESSION: A large crowd gathered for the on-site Land and Environment Court conciliation on April 30 this year.
IN SESSION: A large crowd gathered for the on-site Land and Environment Court conciliation on April 30 this year.

And now, following a number of court conciliation sessions, the process has been terminated.

Dave Wood, who has been a driving force behind the Save Lot 2 Sawtell Road movement has praised council for not backing down.

"Conciliation has been terminated. In other words council has not folded. That has got to be good news for Lot 2," Mr Wood said.

"This is a major milestone and a big relief for those of us fearing capitulation by our planning authorities. Obviously the matter is not over yet and we will need to remain vigilant and keep the pressure on."

A directions hearing has been set for next Monday (August 5).

One likely scenario will be that the proponent requests to pursue the matter in the Land and Environment Court and a hearing date will be set.

The earliest possible date for this hearing would be February or March 2020 to be heard in Coffs Harbour.

Alternatively the proponent may lodge an amended development application. If this occurs all new documents will once again be available for viewing and comment.

Dan Stevens from Regional Ethical Developments was contacted for comment in relation to this story but he did not return the Advocate's call.