To the surprise of many Kiama Downs residents, Kiama Council resolved at its September meeting
to proceed with a planning proposal to sell off up to nine residential lots on the northern, higher third of Iluka Reserve.
“There has been no consultation up until now,” says a resident whose property adjoins the proposed development. “Nobody saw it as a possibility given it is covering landfill.” He believes the park has been deliberately neglected in preparation for this move.
Following unanimous endorsement by the councillors, the planning proposal is now to go to the State Government for a Gateway determination, since some of the land needs to be rezoned and the whole parcel needs reclassification before it can be sold.
If approved, the proposal will then be subject to public consultation. Further community input will be sought when a DA for subdivision is eventually lodged.
Council considers the Reserve, on the eastern side of Riverside Drive, just north of the roundabout, to be underutilised. The intention is to use some of the funds raised from the sale of the land to ‘embellish’ the remaining open space. It is proposed that the community be involved in considering the various recreational options and preferences.
Councillor Kathy Rice, who lives in the area, agrees that many people seem to have been unaware that the idea had been mooted. “It seems to be a long way down the track before the community gets formally involved,” she says. “The people I have spoken to have generally welcomed the opportunity to get an upgraded park, although I understand that those living next to the new blocks would prefer things to stay the way they are.”
Like the land adjacent to the Uniting Church in Fern St, Gerringong, the site was first flagged by Council as a possibility for sale in the first half of 2014. In contrast, the people of Gerringong certainly knew about the possible sell-off, with a 3000 signature petition against the move being presented to Council and a strong turn out at the Public Access Committee prior to the decision being made. In that case, where only two blocks were proposed for sale, Councillors decided not to proceed with the proposal (see page 4).
Councillor Mark Way said at the meeting that he thought the proposal was an excellent outcome.
“A lot of people have been asking me what we are going to do with that land for a long time,” he said. “This will make it an asset for all of Kiama Downs.”
With the completion of Elambra Estate, Council has no more ‘green field’ sites to provide an ongoing revenue stream. For some time, the Revenue Sub-Committee has been assessing which Council-owned land could be considered for sale, given lack of significant active community use and/or environmental values. The extra income will assist Council in meeting the new Fit for the Future guidelines that are being imposed on all local government areas in NSW.