SOUTHERN REGIONAL PLANNING
PPSSTH-11 – Eurobodalla Shire Council - DA0189/20 – 8 Vesper Street, Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre and Demolition of Existing Pool
COVID-19 has created a further psychological, emotional and financial trauma for the Batemans Bay and wider Eurobodalla community. The 2019/20 Currowan and Clyde Mountain bushfire catastrophe began in November. Now we are in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown – businesses closed, jobs lost, schools closed and isolation. NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes recently stated that the Berejiklian government's "planning system acceleration program” would help councils and regional planning panels to quickly process major development applications to “push NSW past the economic calamity” of the COVID-19 crisis. Clearly economic activity in the Eurobodalla will be critical to support the recovery from COVID-19, but economic activity needs to be community centered and in the community interest. It is on this basis that I object to the Eurobodalla Council’s Development Application to proceed with Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre. That -
o Proceeding now with the Eurobodalla Council’s Development Application will present an unacceptable disruption to a community that has been deeply traumatised by the recent bushfire catastrophe and now isolated due to COVID-19.
o A lack of progress on the Level 4 Eurobodalla Hospital promised by local member Andrew Constance before the 2019 state election is giving the impression that a Level 4 Regional Hospital will be on hold until the 2023 election.
o Mackay Park Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre has been a contentious project since Eurobodalla Council unveiled plans in 2017, without having ever consulted Eurobodalla’s major pool stakeholders. Eurobodalla Council failed their Community Engagement Framework during the planning process.
Economic activity is one aspect of recovering from an “economic calamity”. Equally important is this fact - the economy exists for people, not people for the economy. During the 2019/20 bushfire catastrophe 500 homes were lost, businesses burnt to the ground and livelihoods were destroyed. Some properties are still waiting to be cleaned up. Some people are still living in tents without power and communications. There are unconfirmed reports of local suicides. The majority of funding promised by the NSW government for the bushfire recovery is yet to be seen. It is not clear how much the bushfire recovery will cost and how long it will take. To proceed with the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic Arts and Leisure Centre now, is an unacceptable disruption for a community coping with uncertainty and loss. It is in the public interest that Eurobodalla Council’s primary focus is doing all they can as civic leaders to help people rebuild lives’ and businesses.
Level 4 Hospital Eurobodalla
Before the 2019 state election local member Andrew Constance made a pre election promise of $150 million towards a level 4 Regional Hospital in the Eurobodalla. Since May 24 2019 nothing further has happened. As the consenting authority and key stakeholder, Eurobodalla Council has not come forward with land to begin the development process. This is unacceptable given how close the Eurobodalla came to a medical as well as an environmental catastrophe when the Currowan and Clyde Mountain bushfires closed the Princess Highway north and south and the Kings Highway to the west. The Clyde Mountain fire jumped the Clyde River and was only 2kms from the Batemans Bay Hospital. In Moruya the fires came within 200 metres of Moruya Hospital. Medical staff at Batemans Bay and Moruya Hospitals worked tirelessly in planning and preparing for the worst, which thankfully did not occur. Without the heroic efforts of the RFS in protecting Moruya Hospital and Batemans Bay Hospital, the outcome may have been very different. It is inconceivable that we would risk putting ourselves in this position again by leaving progress of the Level 4 Regional Hospital until the 2023 state election.
Since 2017 when Eurobodalla Council’s unveiled plans for the Batemans Bay Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre, the public’s trust in Eurobodalla Council to act in the public interest was diminished. Without including Batemans Bay pool stakeholders in the planning process, Eurobodalla Council failed their Community Consultation Framework which states - the removal of a shire wide service/provision of a regional facility the Level of impact is 4: MODERATE – HIGH and requires Collaboration - ‘To partner with the public in each aspect of the decision including the development of alternatives and the identification of the preferred solution'. Council’s framework offers openness and transparency yet was ignored. A partnership between Council and Batemans Bay pool stakeholders due to the replacement of the 50m pool with a 25 metre pool did not occur. There were no alternatives or identification of preferred solutions. A subsequent suggestion by Council about room for an outdoor 50m pool did not exist on the final plan.
Priorities matter. Given the recent events Eurobodalla Council would be better to focus on the psychological, emotional and economic recovery of the community. Jobs will be created building the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre. Jobs will also be created building the Level 4 Regional Hospital. The collective health and wellbeing of the Eurobodalla community is dependent on community centered decisions, not political expediency, based on promises made by Council and the local member before the 2016 Eurobodalla Council election and since.
Thank you for considering my submission.
14th April, 2020