Published on 13 March 2023
Dear members of the South West Rocks community,
I am writing to provide you with an update on the Settler's Ridge development in your area.
We understand that there has been a significant amount of concern by some members of the community regarding the tree clearing that is taking place at the site. Some have called or written to Council and Councillors to express their distress.
I understand and share the sadness at the loss of nature these developments entail. I understand the anger at Council, but I wanted to share some information on the current state of development in South West Rocks, and Council’s role in it.
Much of the anger aimed at Council at present is framed in terms of what we are allowing to occur, however it is not local government, but the state government that regulates this space. Council is left to work within and enforce the state regulations.
Due to their size, many of the developments at South West Rocks were approved by the NSW State Government. In most cases these approvals were made more than a decade ago. The regulations around the protection and preservation of the environment in these developments is also largely dictated by the NSW Government.
Works have recently commenced on the final two stages of the Settler's Ridge subdivision, which was approved by the NSW Department of Planning in 2013 under the Part 3A major project pathway. These stages are held separately by two developers, each carrying out their work independently.
The status of each stage is as follows:
Stage T6-20-507, located towards the rear of the site off Keith Andrews Ave, is approved for 50 residential lots. Clearing has recently been completed for this stage, and site establishment and preliminary works are currently underway.
Stage DA2100150, located at the front of the site behind Beech Place and Mertens Place, with the southern frontage on Steve Eagleton Drive, is approved for 35 residential lots. Clearing has also commenced for this stage, as well as early site establishment works.
We understand that the clearing of Stage DA2100150 is highly visible to passing traffic on Gregory Street, and we acknowledge that this has and will cause concern for some members of the community. Council officers have attended the site and confirmed that the required Ecologist and Aboriginal Field Officer were present for the commencement works.
We also want to assure you that an identified item of Aboriginal heritage on the site has been noted, and the appointed Aboriginal Field Officer was satisfied with the measures in place and will monitor works going forward.
A Biodiversity Stewardship Site has been proposed near these developments, which will protect the adjoining vegetat. This means this area will be conserved through an agreement with the NSW Government and will protect native flora and fauna.
In addition to enforcement, another key role Council plays in major development is the provision of community infrastructure to support them.
That is why the South West Rocks Structure Plan is so important, as it outlines our infrastructure plans. The plan is in the last days of public exhibition and I would highly recommend you read it and tell us what else it should contain. You can read it and have your say at www.ksc.pub/swrplan23
I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise that Council is committed to preserving and protecting the environment. It is a priority to implement measures that will ensure the sustainability of our community for future generations.
Kempsey Shire Council.