Town split over issue

SUPPORT from Kiama Municipal Council for a seniors' housing development at Jamberoo has drawn a mixed reaction from residents, with one party considering legal action.

Five years after the NSW Land and Environment Court rejected Crighton Properties' seniors living development in Jamberoo, Huntingdale Developments has faced opposition from residents.

Huntingdale submitted a planning proposal in 2012 to rezone 7.8 hectares on Wyalla Road (currently zoned RU2 Rural Landscape to R2 Low Density Residential and E3 Environmental Management) in order to build 30 Torrens title seniors housing lots and 22 detached residential housing lots.

At last Tuesday night's meeting, the majority of councillors resolved to adopt the planning proposal submitted for Wyalla Road, Jamberoo.

They also resolved to proceed with preparation of the planning proposal documents and maps.

Sixty-five submissions were received during the public exhibition period.

There were 54 objections, six supported the proposal, and five Public Authority Responses, with some residents sending more than one submission.

Matters highlighted in the submissions included flooding issues, a loss of village character, inadequate services in Jamberoo and height limits.

At the meeting, councillor Warren Steel said the project was "long overdue" and would save Jamberoo, which he believed was dying.

Councillor Mark Honey said the emotive issue had "split the town in two".

Councillor Andrew Sloan spoke against the proposal and councillor Dennis Seage cited the number of submissions against it.

No development application has yet been lodged.

A group of residents calling itself the 'Village Watch' distributed a flyer throughout Jamberoo last month, warning the development would be placed on flood-prone land and damage the village atmosphere.

Reg Curnow questioned what would make the Huntingdale proposal viable after two other residential developments on the site had been rejected in the past on flooding grounds.

With housing recently built in Allowrie Street, Churchill Street and Tate Place, and an additional 31 lots approved on Drualla Road, residents have argued the council's nominated 3 per cent growth rate would be exceeded and 30 seniors lots were unnecessary.

Mr Curnow believed the council had ignored residents' many objections. "It has not really listened to the voice of the Jamberoo village," he said.

"There are so many things that have been brushed aside in the haste to have the thing approved.

"The public interest has been overridden and not been fully considered.

"It's an absolute lie - the town is not dying, and the businesses aren't dying at all."

Mr Curnow said the group was taking advice on potential Land and Environment Court action.

"The council had a moral obligation to hold a public hearing, particularly because of the large number of submissions against it, and I think they may well have had a legal obligation," he said.

Jamberoo residents in favour of the development say it was crucial to the village's survival.

Phil Lewis, of the Jamberoo Valley Ratepayers Association, was pleased with the council's decision, agreeing that Jamberoo was "dying".

"The town lost its doctor, petrol station, the school is teacher less this year," he said.

Last month, a council spokeswoman said residential land would not fall within the 1 per cent flood-affected area of the site and a flood study modelling the proposal's impact had been sent to the state government for assessment.

The spokeswoman said the proposal was in line with the Kiama Urban Strategy.