Kiama is both blessed and cursed by its stunning scenery and dramatic topography. On the one hand, our land and seascapes make us one of the prettiest places on the South Coast, attracting hordes of visitors every weekend. On the other, they make us irresistible for developers and home buyers wanting to call Kiama home.
The challenge is to accommodate the need for growth with the need to retain the low-key charm that makes our town so special. That balancing act also applies to our rolling green countryside.
Anyone familiar with South Coast development will remember with sadness the transformation of the beautiful countryside around Shellharbour as it succumbed to suburban sprawl. And we only need to make the trip to Sydney to see how once leafy suburbs are evolving into Singapore-style high-rise jungles.
Progress is inevitable but how it looks is not. We all have a stake in ensuring the home we bequeath to our children and grandchildren retains the character that makes it unique. We have a responsibility to help shape our future.
We must ask ourselves if on the outskirts of town we would welcome subdivisions similar in scale to those at Shellharbour.
And, in town, would we be happy to see increased densities or would that make us resemble something like Rockdale by the sea?
Can we continue to build large scale unit blocks without compromising the very things that attract people to our wonderful part of the world?
Much has been said about the Akuna Street development which has been under consideration for three years. Local opinion seems divided between those who welcome the extra business and the promised Aldi supermarket and those who fear the scale of the project will dominate the town.
In the wake of local concerns, the plans have been modified by the developer. While this delay in seeing the project up and running might frustrate some, it is important that any large scale development be considered thoroughly before it gets full approval. It’s better to get it right before building starts than getting it wrong and being stuck with the result for years to come.
When it comes to development, it is imperative local people get thoroughly involved with the local decision-making processes. It’s better to have a say before the event rather than after it.