A BITTER battle between rival development giants over the Tweed Coast's biggest-ever proposed residential site spilled into the public arena yesterday.

Both Austcorp and the Leda Group are vying for the right to build a new suburb with thous-ands of houses on a major chunk of land in Kings Forest, west of prestigious Casuarina Beach.

But 17 years after the area was originally rezoned to allow housing, and after eight years of haggling over details, Tweed Shire Council yesterday afternoon again deferred any decision on the area's future.

Both companies immediately suggested NSW government Planning Minister Frank Sartor may now take planning control for the project away from the administrators.

And both said they would be happy if that happened.

But conservationists and the Greens Party are furious.

They say the area is environmentally precious.

Former Greens Party councillor Henry James said the issue already had NSW Premier Morris Iemma's and Mr Sartor's "grubby hands all over it".

Austcorp executives flew from Sydney to plead with the administrators to consult with them first. But they didn't get a chance to speak.

The administrators instead voted to put the whole issue on public display again and hold a special meeting in April.

Austcorp, which has major residential development nationwide including Coomera Waters opposite Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast has been trying to rail- road the plans of the Leda group for the site.

Austcorp has been locked in a legal battle with Leda which owns the proposed Cobaki Lakes development on the Queensland/NSW border and which bought the company that previously owned Kings Forest, Narui Gold Coast.

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