1,200 lot rezoning adopted but held up by Contribution Plan

Boundary of the 143ha rezoning at Wadalba East shown in red outline

A rezoning proposal for of 143ha of land to allow about 1,200 low density residential lots at Wadalba East was adopted at the September 28 Council meeting.

Rezoning paperwork will go to the State Government for sign-off that would allow Council to amend its local planning rules.

However, Council added that it would wait for its updated Warnervale District Development Contribution Plan to be adopted before proceeding with the steps for amending the Local Environment Plan with the new zoning that would finally allow development on the land.

The 39 landowners will still be hamstrung until this happens (see separate story).

Town Planner, Chris Smith, speaking at the public forum before the meeting on behalf of the landowners, said the draft Contributions Plan still had a number of steps to complete before its operation, which he expected would take six months or more.

“We think this delay is an unnecessary and unreasonable delay to the rezoning process, and that finalising the rezoning can occur as a separate action, in parallel to Council finalising the greater Warnervale contributions plan,” he said.

“I should point out that there will be at least 12 months before the first development applications in Wadalba East are ready for determination, which should be ample time for Council to finalise the draft contributions plan.”

Cr Bruce McLachlan tried to get the two events to happen concurrently, but staff explained that the Development Contribution Plan needed to be done first or Council would not be able to recoup infrastructure costs.

Cr Jane Smith would not accept Cr McLachlan’s suggestion but added her own amendment that landowners be allowed to voluntarily widen the wildlife corridor on their properties.

This was adopted.

The plan had already widened the wildlife corridors from 30m to 40m.

The site is about 143ha covering 39 parcels of land under separate ownership, commonly referred to as the Wadalba East Land Owners Group (WELOG) proposal.

The land includes habitat corridors linking Wadalba Wildlife Corridor to the Tacoma/Tuggerawong Wetlands.

The site is accessed from Johns Rd, Pollock Ave and Jensen Rd.

The adopted plan will allow development except on flood prone land and areas required for conservation, recreation and infrastructure purposes.

During his speech, Town Planner Chris Smith said landowners were concerned that increasing biodiversity requirements, both at Council and State level, would have a significant impact on residential yields planned for this strategic area.

“This area has been on the urban release radar for decades, renamed 2A & 2B in 2010 as part of the Department of Planning’s North Wyong Shire Structure Plan,” he said.

“In 2010/12 the Department had forecast 1,040 homes for this release area.

“This was to house part of the 75,000 new residents forecast for the Coast to 2036.

“The Department of Planning has since revised upwards the number of new residents to 92,000 By 2041.

“Yet throughout the several years of assessment process, there was a difference of opinions and expert reports in respect to the widths of green corridors.

“Our greater concern is that throughout the report, staff have indicated potential for further widening of corridors, and further retention of vegetation on a site-by-site basis as future DA’s are submitted.’’

Smith said there were a number of inconsistencies and uncertainties between the draft Warnervale Contributions Plan and draft Development Control Plan.

Examples included: a pocket park appearing on the structure plan but not in the contributions plan; uncertainty on the future ownership of green corridors; expectations for flood studies to be done on a DA-by-DA basis; and, a requirement to prepare catchment master plans was unclear and likely to result in prejudice for those landowners who did not develop immediately.

He also mentioned that a further hurdle to delivering the first homes was the ability to connect to sewer.

“A servicing strategy has been done and adopted in Council’s Developer Services Plan, but works under this Strategy are not planned until 2026,” he said.

He suggested that with Council also voting at the same meeting on Economic Development and Economic Recovery and Resilience, that councillors should consider bringing forward planned sewer infrastructure works from 2026 to a more immediate timeline that corresponded with this rezoning.

“This should not be considered as a loan or a gift, as this investment in community infrastructure is recoverable through Council’s Developer Services Plan.

“Councils re-timing will bring certainty, investment, job growth and houses to the people of the Coast,” he said.

Merilyn Vale