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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Dalmeny Matters: Public access presentation

Good morning,

We wrote to Councillors on January 28, to raise concerns about the sale of Council land in Dalmeny. We called for Council to halt the preparation of the Master Plan and Development Control Plan for the area as concerning information has come to light.

The community deserves greater clarity around why this sale has progressed at the pace and in the manner that has occurred. I hope you may already have had a chance to read through the document we have provided, for context, and I will briefly speak about 4 of the issues we have raised.

Firstly: the property address

In all meetings and documents the land has been called 16 Tatiara Street, Dalmeny. NSW Planning and all other public information on the site used the address 16 Acacia Close Dalmeny. The community need to know how this mistake occurred, why it was not picked up by Council and whether this error makes the contract of sale invalid?

Secondly: The Land Disposal Policy has not been followed

The policy states the specific criteria that must be considered by Council when deciding to sell land.

It is very clear from the Minutes for the Meeting of July 13, that these criteria were not formally addressed, and that Councillors were not provided with sufficient information against which they could assess these points.

These include current usage of the land, facilities to meet the future needs of the community, the conservation value of the land which is demonstrably high and serious constraints including bush fire risk, slope, native vegetation, flood prone areas and drainage gullies.

Importantly, any ongoing maintenance issues that might become Council responsibility if the land is developed were also not detailed.

This was an opportunity for Council to consider the suitability of this land for development since zoning occurred over 30 years ago, and in light of the devastating impact of the fires. Why was this not done despite 2 Councillors requesting additional time to gather more information?

Furthermore, Section 4.2 of the policy states that the sale of land must be a resolution of Council. We are unable to find a resolution where the details of the sale were reported to Council and explicitly supported. If it was a confidential report, there should be a public document demonstrating that the policy was met on all relevant points.

How is it that Council policy was not followed in this matter and how will Council address this failure? What process do Council have to correct breaches of this nature?

Thirdly: The land value

Rather than selling this land at a premium price, Council have reported sold the 40 Ha parcel for 4.7 million. A roughly comparable 1ha block just down the road sold last year for 2.2 million.

Council have failed to optimize the value of the land by selling first, and doing planning work second.

To explain- The Master Plan and DCP will substantially increase the value of the land. As it stands, a buyer could on-sell to an experienced developer for a large profit once the DCP is made and the development potential is clear.

If the urgency behind this sale was to capitalize on high land prices, why has Council not made a better deal on this public asset, and furthermore:

Who does stand to profit from this transaction? What information have Councillors been given about the buyer? From the information available, they are a newly registered developer based in western Sydney who has no previous development experience let alone experience in bushland or coastal development.

And can it be demonstrated that Council have acted according to best practice and that there is no evidence of corruption?

Regarding the consultants preparing the Master Plan and DCP

According to the information available, neither have demonstrated relevant experience in major coastal residential master planning and DCP preparation.

● Who recommended the consultants, were they appointed by competitive tender?

● Is a copy of the brief to consultants available? What is the value of the brief?

● Why is the timeframe given to prepare the master plan and DCP so short?

Again this speaks to the sale and development of this area being rushed through; what is the justification for this?

Dalmeny Matters would like to acknowledge that housing is a major issue for our community and personally affects many members. The community has been told that this land release is necessary to help the housing crisis.

However the Council’s recent submission to the Regional Housing Taskforce makes it clear that ‘Availability of appropriately zoned land is NOT an issue for the Eurobodalla, with enough land to meet population forecasts to 2036.’

The report says the real barriers to building new houses are materials shortages, a lack of skilled workers in the area, and a ‘lack of suitably qualified development specialists in regional areas.. resulting in poor quality subdivision’.

Judging from Council’s own report, it seems that clearing this 100 Ha of bushland is unnecessary as land supply is not the issue.

Council have argued that this land release will help to lower prices in the area generally, but this has certainly not been the case in other areas just up the coast where land releases have occurred.

We acknowledge housing is an issue but at what cost? A rushed, poorly planned and executed development that will be a permanent, irrevocable change to our community.

We are being asked to sacrifice the bush surroundings that make Dalmeny a lovely place to live, and to risk the health of Mummaga lake ecosystem, but it seems unlikely that there will be a significant benefit to the community in terms of housing affordability.

We would like to draw Council’s attention to the fact that there is currently no DCP for Dalmeny as a whole. This seems a more natural place to start when planning for the growth of the village.

In summary, we are asking Council to

● Investigate the issues we have raised: the sale of the land, the urgency of the sale, the sale price and the lack of real community consultation.

● Regarding the The Master Plan and DCP: The lack of a DCP prior to sale which would give both the developer , the council and the community a clearer vision of the project and the consequent real costs.

● Who are the consultants who are doing the DCP and what is their experience in regional coastal development? Can the community look at the brief given to the consultants. And why is the time frame so short?

● Finally :This community expects a transparent process. The council is elected by the community to work in the best interests of the community. We need to know what the process is and the costs involved financially, socially and ecologically.

● We would like an assurance that growth is being considered responsibly, with future community needs and services provided for. Development should be focused on the needs of local residents, not designed to generate profits for developers who don’t care about our area or our environment. Any planning should be for Dalmeny as a whole.


NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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