Scotts Head Saved: Ingenia withdraws proposal for over 55s lifestyle community at Scotts Head

The community came out in force to celebrate the withdrawal of Inegnia’s proposal for an over-55s lifestyle community at Scotts Head. Photo: Zahn Pithers Photography.

IN what has been hailed a massive win for people power, Ingenia Communities has informed Nambucca Valley Council of the withdrawal of its proposal for the development of an over-55s lifestyle community in Scotts Head.

The DA, lodged by ppplicants Sungenia Development PTY Limited in July, sought approval to develop a ‘Caravan Park including 255 long term sites, 2 short term sites and associated facilities’.

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Horrified by the proposal, the Scotts Head Community Group coordinated community efforts to have the development scrapped.

After news of Ingenia’s withdrawal last Thursday, group spokesperson James Ledger was overjoyed at the decision.

“As I’m sure most can imagine, the community is delighted with the news,” James said.

“There is a real sense of disbelief that a village of less than 900 residents could convince a $2billion ASX-listed company that their proposal for a manufactured housing estate was inappropriate and would have a profound effect on residents and visitors alike.

“And there is a real sense of belief in the coming together, of the power of the collective.”

Mr Ledger said he was pleased that Ingenia had become aware of “the shortcomings of its proposal”.

“They’ve heard and understood the community’s sentiment, and it’s also recognised Ingenia could have downplayed what the community did in response to the proposal.

“It could have marginalised what the community said in response to the proposal, but there’s no way it could have ignored how the community felt.”

While emotions ran high and community feeling was clear for all to see, the Scotts Head Community Group’s campaign was based on methodically exposing issues with the proposed development.

“The sentiment of both residents and visitors played a critical role in the Save Scotts Head campaign.

“But it wasn’t simply sentiment alone that influenced Ingenia’s decision.

“We made it very clear from the start that we would mount a fact-based, an objective campaign, one that dealt with the unarguable truths, and that was delivered in a calm, measured way.”

The situation in Scotts Head is not unique, with coastal communities along the Mid North Coast concerned at the scale of development proposed for their small towns and villages.

What is unique however, is the professional and efficient response the community was able to muster to fight the proposal.

“I’d like to think that the success of our campaign gives hope to all those communities up and down the NSW coast facing similar ‘David & Goliath’ challenges,” James said.

“If I had any advice, I’d say get organised, develop a strategy, work with the truth, harness the feeling of the community, raise funds, engage experts, cultivate the influence of advocates and inject a bit of naivety when thinking about the challenges.

“Asking “why?” and “why?” and “what if…?” goes a long way in making the insurmountable, surmountable,” James said.

With the Ingenia proposal withdrawn, James said the community “remains vigilant in the face of inappropriate development”.

“Many of us got involved with the campaign as we saw it as the thin end of a worrying wedge.

“There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that this threat has gone.”

Simon Owen, CEO of Ingenia Communities, said the decision had been made following extensive community engagement and feedback.

“We thank those members of the community who provided constructive feedback during our pre-DA community engagement and through the development application process.

“While we continue to believe there is demand for a quality lifestyle community in the area, we respect the views of the community and have carefully considered the issues raised.

“Council’s recent advice regarding the limitations of local infrastructure in the area has also been a key factor in our decision to withdraw the proposal,” Mr Owen said.


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