Agenda Item CAR18/010 Eurobodalla Recreation and Open Space Strategy 2018 – Submission to Eurobodalla Shire Council re. Action N6 to rationalise Lot 84, DP 259212 South Durras
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of directly affected adjoining residents, The Durras Community Association, South Durras Landcare Group and the Friends of Durras Conservation Group concerning the proposal to divide Lot 84, DP259212 South Durras into two narrow residential blocks. It’s currently an open space corridor.
Our submission to Council presents our strong opposition to the sale of this heavily forested corridor, which has important conservation, recreation and fire mitigation values and should continue to be protected as public land.
We’re sorry our submission was late, but we didn’t have any idea until recently that this beautiful piece of public reserve was threatened with development. We were not consulted about these proposed changes, and we do not think this was right or fair, or to Council’s standard procedures.
This leafy area of the Durras village is unique, surrounded by the Murramarang National Park, and planned from the beginning to be sympathetic to its natural environment with strict tree preservation policies in place. This narrow band of land was strategically planned and placed in the middle of the sub-division as a Public Reserve.
When we purchased our properties (between 1980 and 2009) it was clearly zoned as public reserve, 6a1 Open Space, and on public display showing its fire mitigation role. This enhanced the value of our land (and was reflected in the prices we paid for the properties). As a principle, no public land should be re-zoned without proper consultation with adjoining residents, who purchased properties in good faith on current zoning.
Most importantly, the corridor is publicly identified in the “Durras Bushfire Mitigation Plan” as a “Council Hand Cleared Break”, and this is an important community asset in this high-risk fire area. It has been regularly hand-cleared by the Council, and is identified by the NSW Rural Fire Service as an “Asset Protection Zone” in their “Bush Fire Protection Map for South Durras”. This is the yellow shaded zone in the centre of Photo 1.
Its stated purpose is “to protect human life, property and highly valued public assets and values” and its suppression objectives include “to minimise bush fire impacts on undefendable assets“. Any change to this management strategy has the potential to put lives and property at risk and also has serious ramifications for the operations of the South Durras Branch of the NSW Rural Fire Service. I’m sure the Council would not wish to be liable for any action which may risk lives or property.
Coincidently, the zone photo clearly shows how the corridor directly connects through to the swampy public reserve area backing Cookies Beach via another open public corridor on the eastern side of Banyandah Street. Please note that this is the only uninterrupted corridor running east / west through the sub-division to the swamp area.
Photo 1: South Durras Bushfire Mitigation Plan, showing Asset Protection Zone corridor. From an environmental perspective, it importantly provides a heavily protected forested corridor for eastern grey kangaroos, swamp wallabies, brush tail possums, gliders and goannas to roam freely through the Village – much to the delight of the locals and visitors alike (please refer to Photo 2). The tall mature Spotted Gums and Ironbark trees are important habitats for an abundant native bird population and gliders (including yellow-bellied and greater gliders). It needs to be noted that the yellow-bellied glider is on the vulnerable list and Council has already acknowledged its presence in this area, and included this in development regulations to protect their habitat. The main threat to their survival is habitat alteration and reduction, especially from urban development. This has the potential to disrupt movement, isolate habitat and remove food resources. We believe that Council should be conserving the habitat of threatened species, not removing it.
Photo 2: The corridor looking eastward from Village Road. As the corridor is quite narrow, its development to accommodate two residences would require the removal of most of the trees. Placing reasonable sized houses on such a small parcel of land means that their footprints will be large and likely to come very close to the boundaries on both sides. This will completely cut off the wildlife corridor and destroy the continuity of the forested canopy. (please refer Photo 3 : Canopy & Habitat Overview). It’s almost akin to the “clear-fell” policy of yesteryear! Another factor to be considered is that the corridor currently provides a public service as a walkway, which could easily be enhanced. It is a convenient shortcut for residents walking to the beach from Murramarang Crescent and Village Road. It avoids walking up the steep hill on Village Road, which benefits many of the older residents (the bulk of land holders in this vicinity) and visitors. Looking ahead, it could also provide an easement for any public utilities should they eventuate in the future (remember we don’t have town water or sewerage).Also it seems counter-productive to sell open space when there is a noted deficiency in open space in the Batemans Bay Hinterland area. Given this scarcity, all current open space should be retained and enhanced for community use. Open space should not be surrendered easily, as it is difficult to re-create. Such sales could be seen as a short-term monetary gain, but at what longer-term public cost?
Photo 3: Habitat & Canopy Overview For the reasons outlined above, we consider that this corridor should remain as a valuable public asset both from a recreational and environmental perspective, and from its particularly important bushfire mitigation role. These issues obviously require more thorough investigation and closer consideration, but should be done in consultation with all affected parties, namely: the adjoining residents; the Durras Community Association; the South Durras Branch of the NSW Rural Fire Service; the Friends of Durras Conservation Group and the South Durras Landcare Group. Council would be wise to listen to the Durras community, which has important local knowledge to assist decision making. Dale Inabinet On behalf of All Directly Affected Residents & Following Organisations: Dale and Bill Inabinet44 Village Rd South Durras Agnes Heffernan & John Langdale46 Village Rd South Durras Joanna and Ian Hufton47 Banyandah St South Durras Julie and Tim Nicholson51 Banyandah St South Durras Durras Community Association Durras Landcare Group The Friends of Durras Conservation Group