Opposition voices heard at Public Hearing

A Public Hearing organised to get community feedback on planning proposals to enable the sell-off of a section of Illuka Reserve at Kiama Downs, a developed block in O’Connell Place, Gerringong, and a parcel of land in Irvine St attracted an unexpectedly large crowd.

All were there, including Gareth Ward MP, to discuss the Gerringong and Illuka proposals. There were no speakers supporting either of the proposals.

The Gerringong proposal is to enable the sell-off of a house which has been let long term to the Housing Trust. Speakers against this proposal complained about the lack of notification and consultation.

Many of the speakers against the reclassification of a section of the Illuka Reserve as operational land (which will allow its sale) and the rezoning of some
of the reserve to residential, also complained about the same issue of lack of communication over a long period of time.

Brian Beckwith of Illuka Crescent, which backs onto the Reserve, said, “Not one resident was notified of the rezoning (of the northern section of the reserve to residential) in 2011 and I think that makes it illegal.”

He said the extra cul-de-sac housing will create traffic and other logistical problems.

Ray Smith of Minnamurra said, “We own this green space, let’s keep it.”

Max Reitze of Newing Circuit was one of a number who continued on this theme, saying parks need to be protected as oasis, saying “It is a shame not to have a far-seeing council.”

David Murray, whose house backs onto the tennis courts, spoke of his concerns about the dangerous access on North Kiama Drive and the amount of time and money it will take to make the land, which was a tip and is subject to flooding, safe.

Leonie Newman, said they bought their home at Illuka Crescent 40 years ago because it backed onto the Reserve.

She complained of councillors saying they never see people using the Reserve.

“To use the Reserve you don’t have to be on it. I use the Reserve every time I look at it, and so do other people,” she said.

“To take that away from us is criminal.”

At the first Public Hearing: Some of the long term residents of Kiama Downs who oppose the sell-off of a section of Illuka Reserve

The Member for Kiama, Gareth Ward, who recently presented a petition against the Illuka sell-off to Council, said that many people opposed the amalgamation of Kiama with Shoalhaven because they wanted the community to have a say in important decisions.

“I understand there is a pressure for increased housing, but nine lots is not going to resolve the housing stress in Kiama,” he said.

“The Bombo Quarry is coming to the end of its life, and I strongly support residential development there.

“I think there is  genuine concern about the loss of public open space. The question needs to be asked, what comes after this, and after that. To remove this from Council’s register would be running diametrically opposed to what many people expect from this Council – and that is the preservation of reserves exactly like this.”

Vocal campaigner against the proposal, David Connelly, gave a detailed submission on his many concerns about the proposal, including it not being in the Kiama Urban Strategy, the remediation work that will be necessary and his fear that other reserves may meet the same fate.

Another Public Hearing has been scheduled following feedback requesting an after hours timeslot.

The deadline for all three planning proposals has also been extended by two weeks to 4pm, Monday 24 July.

The Hearings are being conducted by an independent planning consultant, who will provide a report, but not a recommendation, to Council. Council staff are on hand to answer questions.

Details: The second Public Hearing is on Monday 3 July, 7pm at the Council Administration Building



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