The Kings Forest site.
The Kings Forest site.

Kings forest 'short on environmental plan'

THE future of the Kings Forest township - a town the size of Murwillumbah and one of the largest developments yet proposed on the Tweed - is under a cloud after NSW Department of planning experts tore the proposal to shreds and called for a massive amount of extra environmental information.

Correspondence obtained by the Tweed Daily News shows property billionaire Bob Ell, whose development group Leda is behind proposals for the township of about 5000 homes inland from Cas- uarina Beach, has been told unless further information is provided, Planning Minister Kristina Keneally might only offer concept approval “subject to further detailed environmental assessment”.

Chris Wilson, who heads the department's major project assessments, has warned any such concept approval would give no certainty as to the number of homes allowed or the devel- opment layout.

He warned it may also result in additional areas of open space or conservation areas being required.

However, Mr Wilson said Ms Keneally would be able to give the project and associ- ated rezoning appropriate consideration if the developers provide a huge amount of extra information dealing with key issues.

The issues include concerns about proposed densities of the town centre and residential areas, the location of the town centre and protection of kolas and other threatened species.

Yesterday Leda Development's regional manager Reg van Rij declined to comment on the correspondence, saying it was “part of the planning process” and among many “inputs” the company is handling.

“There's nothing in it that we care to comment on,” Mr van Rij said.

Among the questions put by Mr Wilson are:

“How does the concept plan respond sensitively to the areas of high-conservation value when it seeks to rezone areas of land identified as endangered ecological communities and threatened species habitat?”

The letter also suggests the density of the planned three-storey town centre is “very low or alternatively... the area of the town centre is too great”.

It questions the density of residential areas and warns because of the close proximity to the proposed Casuarina town centre, the Kings Forest town centre would be “better placed further west”.

It raises questions about proposed large-format retailing, pointing out the use “is in contravention of the Tweed Retail Strategy” which restricts the number of major shopping centres on the Tweed. It queries proposals to reduce buffer zones with surrounding farmland and asks where dog-proof fences would be provided for koalas.

It seeks more information on protection of various threatened plants including the square-stemmed spike bush and white yiel yiel tree, and asks how fencing the habitat of the bush stone curlew, a hunch-backed bird with strangly legs, can take place if that is on the planned golf course.

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