Developments uncertain

TWEED Shire Council looks set to raise a stack of concerns about plans for two new towns on the Tweed - each about the size of Murwillumbah - when councillors meet today.

Council planning officers and other staff have listed the concerns they have for the Cobaki Lakes and Kings Forest developments which already have prompted protests from conservationists and koala defenders.

The two massive housing projects would together provide nearly 10,000 homes - ultimately worth at least $5 billion without counting the end-value of schools, sporting facilities and shopping centres.

Leda Developments headed by cashed-up billionaire Bob Ell last year formally lodged its development applications for the two sites - west of Tweed Heads and inland from Casuarina Beach - with the NSW Department of Planning.

Last week the government announced a two-week extension to the period for public submissions on the projects, with March 2 set as the new deadline.

In lengthy reports to the councillors, planning staff have recommended that council send the department its own submissions on each development.

Council planners say the proposed rezonings for Kings Forest should not be supported on ecological grounds and further negotiations should take place.

They add:

“A revised koala plan of management is required prior to approval of the concept plan to ensure long-term protection of the koala is maintained within and around the subject site.”

The planners also warned insufficient detail has been provided for stormwater and drainage infrastructure and that the council at present does not have the capacity to handle the sewage or supply water, and planned roads may be insufficient.

The planners also raised concerns about some of the rezonings, the sewerage system and the water supply for Cobaki Lakes.

Tweed conservationists Jim Warburton and Hoppie Hopkins have also warned the shire does not have enough water to cope with the 10,000 new homes.

Mr Warburton argues the Tweed simply does not have enough water supply.

Mr Hopkins said treating sewage from the extra 10,000 homes would prove to be a “mega-problem”.

“They are saying the current treatment works are barely adequate,” Mr Hopkins said. “This is going to have a huge impact on the treatment works, and even if it goes into the ocean it's not sufficient.”

Mr Hopkins said the Cobaki Lakes site also held an important patch of scribbly gum forest and coastal heath - the protection of which were “major conservation issues”.

Detailed plans for both projects which have been on the drawing boards for years have been available for public perusal for nearly two months.

Leda hopes the first blocks of land could be on the market late next year or early 2010.

Spokesman Reg Van Rij late last year said the projects would have a “15-to-20-year lifespan”.

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