Developers and campaigners continue stoush over clearing of koala habitat at Toormina

Developers continue the fight to clear this bushland. Photo: Andrew Vivian.


LOCAL campaigners, who are attempting to prevent koala habitat at Lot 2, Sawtell Rd, Toormina, being developed, were contacted last week by solicitors representing the Coffs Harbour City Council.

The solicitors informed the campaigners that Regional Architects, representing REDCC, has served notice on the Coffs Harbour City Council to appear in the Land and Environment Court and defend their May 2020 refusal of
a development application.

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The original 2018 development application sought to bulldoze over seven hectares of the heavily ‘environmentally restrained’ 8.9 hectare bushland block for a 57-lot housing subdivision and seniors’ village.

The land was once publicly owned, but ownership was passed to the Coffs Harbour Ex-servicemens Club.

The 2015 marketing and sale of the land caused significant outrage and, ever since, a local campaign by residents and friends to prevent the bulldozing and loss of the significant core koala habitat and major corridor.

According to campaigners, it also contains a prescribed Endangered Ecological Community, with many old growth standing hollows and rich local biodiversity.

A Coffs Harbour City Council spokesperson told News Of The Area that the appeal relates to the Council’s refusal of the applicant’s development application on 22 May 2020 and a copy of the notice of determination can be accessed on the Council’s planning portal, which sets out the reasons for refusal of the application.

The spokesperson said that Council has retained a number of independent experts as well as internal experts in these proceedings to defend its refusal of the application and has instructed HWL Ebsworth Lawyers to act on its behalf.

She said the experts and solicitors acted for the Council in a previous appeal brought by the applicant in relation to the then deemed refusal of the development application.

In those proceedings, the applicant discontinued the appeal on the fifth day of a seven-day hearing and the application was not finally determined by the Court.

The Council was successful in obtaining a costs order against the applicant in relation to the conduct of those proceedings.

The Council declined to comment further because this matter is the subject of current court proceedings.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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