Expansion of Emerald Beach Holiday Park approved despite parking debate

Emerald Beach Discovery Holiday Park has been given Council approval to expand following much debate over traffic and car parking issues at the site. Photo: Emma Darbin.

 

THE controversial expansion of Emerald Beach Caravan Park has been approved by Coffs Harbour City Council, following further traffic and parking assessments being undertaken on the site.

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A development application for Emerald Beach Discovery Holiday Park for the addition of 26 new campsites, a new amenities building, a replacement bridge and internal roads at its Fishermans Drive site has been an issue of contention, with car parking issues in the small narrow street being a major concern.

Council deferred voting on the development application at its meeting on 13 August in order for further hydraulic, ecological, traffic and parking assessments to be undertaken on the site.

The updated traffic and parking assessments revealed that the local roads had the capacity to accommodate for the proposed expansion of the caravan park.

“The existing caravan park and proposed additional camp sites are provided with sufficient car parking, which includes additional visitor spaces,” a Council report on the development application stated.

“It is considered that the proposed camp sites will not cause unacceptable traffic impacts on Fishermans Drive.”

The caravan park currently contains 117 short term caravan sites and 30 camping sites.

Cr Tegan Swan moved an alternate recommendation at Council’s latest meeting on Thursday 10 December for the development application to be approved with an additional condition of an overflow car park being provided by the applicant to accommodate ten vehicles within the development site.

“We have the capacity under the type of development that they are, to require additional car parking overflow onsite,” Cr Swan confirmed.

“We put conditions on requirements of developments all the time and this is in alignment with what we can require them to do, and it addresses a lot of the concerns raised around the development, and is appropriate.”

Cr George Cecato questioned whether the site would be able to accommodate an extra ten car parking spaces.

“Where are they going to put it?” Cr Cecato asked.

Cr Swan refuted this and said “the development is for extension of camping sites”.

“They have space, it’s a caravan park, it’s up to them where they choose to put it, but a requirement of their development is that they provide additional car parking because currently one of the largest concerns around the development is that it does not have sufficient parking for internal guests,” Cr Swan said.

“We have capacity under our controls to rather than just require the minimum standard, to require additional parking to meet the guidelines around overflow parking for caravan and tourist facilities.

“It’s up to them where they do it, they just have to do it.”

Cr Sally Townley did not support approval of the development application due to the small size of the caravan park and the traffic and car parking issues in the surrounding area.

“When this came before Council in September there was considerable concern about the construction of the bridge and environmental impacts and the proponent to their credit has done some more work on that, but I guess there is still really this unresolved issue around the overflow parking,” Cr Townley said.

“There’s lots of visitors to the site that have more than one car, the waterpark on site is open to the public and so there’s a lot of use that is accrued not just from visitors to the park, but members of the general public.

“Having these kind of caravan parks is great, but it’s bulging over all of its boundaries and there is no more room to fit anything in there.”

Cr Townley called on Council to reject the DA and allow the applicant to come back to Council with a better proposal.

“The cleanest thing is just to refuse it and then the applicant will come back with a better offering and what we want is for them to say ‘we want some onsite parking’,” Cr Townley said.

“Why should the public streets of Emerald Beach be used for the overflow parking for a commercial enterprise?

“It’s really unreasonable for them to say we want to add 26 more sites and not provide one single extra car park on site.”

Cr Rhoades disagreed with the imposition of additional car parking being placed on the DA.

“For councillors to impose an additional condition that may inadvertently halt the intent of the application because it may turn into being not viable is a very very grey area,” Cr Rhoades said.

“If you do make it ten or five or fifteen or whatever (car parks), that doesn’t mean you are going to fix the problem in Fishermans Drive.”

Cr John Arkan said he couldn’t support the DA due to the traffic and parking problems.

“The key point is the parking,” Cr Arkan said.

“Traffic is a problem, we can’t hide it, parking is a problem, we can’t think it’s going to go away.

“Maybe councillors, just maybe it doesn’t fit.”

Cr Michael Adendorff said the voices of the 100 objectors to the DA should not be ignored.

“It is really really hard to ignore the voices of 100 people when they say we are being impacted on something,” Cr Adendorff said.

“As I understand it traffic is a major issue among the 100 complainants.”

Councillors resolved five votes to three to approve the development application for additions to the existing caravan park, including the addition of 26 camp sites, ablutions building, replacement bridge and internal roads at Emerald Beach Caravan Park, with the additional condition of an overflow carpark for ten vehicles within the development site.

Cr Denise Knight, Cr Michael Adendorff, Cr George Cecato, Cr Keith Rhoades and Cr Tegan Swan voted for the development application and Cr Paul Amos, Cr John Arkan and Cr Sally Townley voted against.

The caravan park has been part of the Emerald Beach village since the 1970s.

 

By Emma DARBIN

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