Point Plomer Road bitumen sealing
Frequently asked questions

1 June 2020

Why is Point Plomer Road being sealed?

Since 1997, Council has considered various reports about options for the maintenance and sealing of Point Plomer Road, and community views both for and against.

The project is identified as a priority in Council’s 2017-21 Delivery Program as part of improvements to the local transport network.

After extensive consideration of the issue, Kempsey Shire Council resolved in October 2018 to seek grant funding to seal two gravel sections of Point Plomer Road to the north of Big Hill, totalling 6.2km in length.

Kempsey Shire Council maintains an 11.8km length of the road from Crescent Head Road to Big Hill, where the road enters Limeburners Creek National Park. Of this 11.8km section, 5.6km of the road is sealed with two gravel sections of 4km and 2.2km remaining.

The decision to seal the road was largely based on enhancing road user safety given the high traffic volumes experienced along the road - particularly during holiday periods - and reducing ongoing maintenance costs.

What will the sealing cost?

The cost to bitumen seal the two gravel sections of the road maintained by Kempsey Shire Council is approximately $3.6 million.

The NSW Government has approved a grant for $2.88 million under the Regional Growth - Environment and Tourism Fund for the sealing works. This will enable Council to deliver the project at minimal cost to the community and direct savings to other roadworks in the Shire.

When will the sealing begin and how long will it take?

With the announcement of State Government funding for the project, Council can now undertake the necessary project planning to enable construction work to commence.

A tender for the project is expected to be awarded in the second half of 2020 with work to commence late 2020.

What are the benefits?

The key reasons for sealing the road is improved road safety and a reduction in annual maintenance costs.

High volumes of traffic use Point Plomer Road and Council cannot always maintain the road in a safe condition presenting a risk to users’ safety and the potential for vehicle damage.

The condition of the road often deteriorates rapidly when adverse weather conditions are combined with holiday period traffic volumes. Budgetary constraints mean that it isn’t always practical for Council to restore the road to a safe condition outside the maintenance schedule.

In the four years from 2013 to 2017, five crashes were reported to police occurring in the gravel section, with no reported crashes on the sealed parts of the road.

Council spends $170,000 a year, on average, in maintenance, grading and gravel resheeting to keep the unsealed section of Point Plomer Road safe and accessible.

Taking into account that sealing the road would alter asset depreciation costs and reduce the gravel road maintenance budget, a sealed Point Plomer Road would result in an approximate annual saving of $60,000.

Sealing the road will also reduce the risk exposure of Council, provide amenity improvement to residents along the road, encourage active transport uses such as walking and riding, and reduce dust and gravel being deposited in the surrounding environment.

Won’t the sealing of road ruin the character of the area?

Council recognises that sections of the community have concerns about the potential for increased visitation to the Point Plomer and Crescent Head areas once the road is sealed.

The decision to seal the road is not related to land zoning or development, it’s about improving amenity and safety while reducing maintenance costs for ratepayers.

In response to community interest in the issue, Council resolved at its December 2018 meeting that a local character statement be developed to help reflect the current character of the Point Plomer area.

Council will engage with the community to define the desired character of the area into the future, as part of legislated local strategic planning works.

Will this lead to more development in the area?

The sealing of the road does not change the zoning of the land and the type of development that is permissible.

With the exception of National Park area (zoned E1), the current zoning of the land along Point Plomer Road is E2 - Environmental Conservation, E3 - Environmental Management and E4 - Environmental Living. These zonings are defined within the Kempsey Local Environmental Plan 2013.

Planning controls for the Crescent Head area will commence being reviewed in the coming year as part defining the desired character of the area into the future through the local character statement for the area. In undertaking this process, existing development controls may be able to be strengthened along Point Plomer Road to allay community concerns about further development of the area.

Won’t sealing the road harm the environment?

No sealing work is proposed beyond Big Hill, so the road through the National Park area will remain gravel and be largely restricted to vehicles with 4WD capability.

The alignment of the sealed road will be largely unchanged from the existing road which will limit the impact on roadside vegetation.

Sealing of the road will eliminate or substantially reduce sediment run-off and dust generation which currently impacts the surrounding environment.

Council is required to undertake an environmental assessment prior to any sealing works to ensure any potential impacts are identified and mitigated, such as flora, fauna and Indigenous and European heritage considerations. This task is nearing completion.

What about Indigenous heritage sites?

Council recognises that the surrounding environment is of high value and cultural significance, which is why the environmental assessment process will be undertaken in a comprehensive manner in compliance with the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act.

This assessment includes heritage considerations.

Council and it consultants have liaised with the Local Aboriginal Land Council with a view to ensuring protection of culturally significant heritage sites within the Point Plomer Road Reserve.