Emerald Beach Discovery Park.
Emerald Beach Discovery Park.

Expansion of beach holiday park could end in ‘tragedy’

A decision on the major expansion of a beachside holiday park has been put on hold pending further studies.

The proposal is for 26 new camp sites, a new amenities building, a replacement bridge and internal roads at the Emerald Beach Discovery Park on Fishermans Drive.

It currently comprises 117 short term caravan sites and 30 camping sites.

The estimated cost of the work is $1,080,000.

When the proposal was first put on public exhibition in July 2017, there were 104 submissions and all were opposed to the plan.

The main issues were site suitability due to potential bushfire and flood; traffic generation on Fishermans Drive and potential impacts on Fiddamans Creek and Solitary Islands Marine Park.

There are also concerns it is out of keeping with the village character of Emerald Beach.

Revisions were made, including the provision of a wider access bridge to address concerns of the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The replacement bridge will be wider to allow for two-way traffic, which the current existing bridge does not provide.

The development application was up for discussion at tonight's Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

A submission against the proposal from Emerald Beach resident Dr Anna Scott was read to Councillors.

"I am a senior lecturer in marine science but today I also speak as a property owner who lives adjacent to the park and my objections relate to unknown flood risks to adjacent properties, inadequate assessment of traffic impacts and environmental impacts."

Engineer and fellow Emerald Beach resident Paul Widdowson also made a submission urging Councillors to reject the proposal.

"Staff are consistently parked on residents' nature strips along with visitors of guests and this is further exacerbated in the holiday period; and then you have the visitors enjoying the water park facilities," Mr Widdowson said.

"The entrance is on a corner and a clear view concealed. It doesn't take an expert to see this is a recipe for disaster.

"This could make an already awful situation much worse and increase the likelihood of tragedy."

WATER WONDERLAND: The water park attracts lots of day visitors.
WATER WONDERLAND: The water park attracts lots of day visitors.

Greg Vincent from Masterplan spoke on behalf of Discovery Parks.

He said the new, wider bridge, provides community benefit and the development will provide 21 jobs during construction and 11 ongoing.

Mr Vincent pointed out that the park has been there since the 1970s with existing plans for development on the scale being proposed.

The recommendation before Councillors was to approve the development but Cr Sally Townley suggested deferring the decision pending further hydraulic, ecological and traffic assessment. Her motion was seconded by Cr John Arkan.

Cr Keith Rhoades was keen to see the proposal go ahead and said he sympathised with the frustration of developers wanting to pursue similar projects within the LGA.

"Boy oh boy I feel the frustration of the development industry....I hope sanity prevails."

Cr John Arkan said it wasn't "doom and gloom" for developments and that there were real concerns particularly in relation to traffic congestion. He said that last time he was in Fishermans Drive he could hardly turn his car around.

Cr Townley's motion to defer pending further assessment was supported by Mayor Denise Knight and Crs Tegan Swan with Crs Keith Rhoades, Michael Adendorff, Paul Amos and George Cecato against.

With a tied vote Mayor Denise Knight used her casting vote to support the motion to defer.