Property

Iron Gates last chance for new housing development at Evans

HOT PROPERTY: Aerial shot of Evans Head.
HOT PROPERTY: Aerial shot of Evans Head. The Northern Star

TO SOME it might symbolise a green light for the future development of Evans Head.

But the proposed subdivision of a portion of the Iron Gates site famously halted in the 1990s would be the last greenfield subdivision in Evans Head - ever, Richmond Valley general manager John Walker said.

"This is the end of it - there's no more land in Evans Head that can be developed," Mr Walker said.

>>CONTROVERSY REVIVED OVER IRON GATES

"(The rest) is all park and forest."

It's worth talking numbers to understand the scale of the development application now on public display and before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.

The proposed $11.5 million development takes up 18.2ha including roads and public land, compared to about 80ha for the original Iron Gates.

Its 178 lots are just over a quarter of the some 680 blocks envisioned there in the 1990s.

Much of the existing infrastructure built in the 1990s, but later abandoned, will be "recycled" in the new development, but altered to meet today's standards.

Evans Head's population will increase by up to 25% when the development is complete, from 2900 residents to about 3500-4000.

Mr Walker said there was enough existing public infrastructure in Evans Head to cope with the increase.

"It will help the town grow and it's important for its economic health so that it doesn't stagnate," he argued.

He added that the current development had little in common with the original Iron Gates.

"The difference from last time is this land is (already) zoned residential. It's gazetted in the LEP, accepted by (the) state planning (department)," he said. "It's a pretty simple proposition that doesn't really have a lot of relevance to the past."

Many of the issues which sunk the previous failed development had been dealt with in the rezoning process, which resulted in most of the original site being zoned for environmental management and conservation.

But the man who led the campaign to halt the original development, activist Al Oshlack, clearly connects the new with the old.

"There is no way while I'm breathing oxygen that I'm going to let this developer go ahead in any form," Mr Oshlack told The Northern Star last week.

CONTROVERSY REVIVED OVER IRON GATES

IT'S LESS than a quarter the size of the original Iron Gates development that was halted; but the development of the Evans Head site is guaranteed to be controversial.

On the Facebook Evans Head Classifieds page this week, a fiery and at times vitriolic social media debate ensued.

While some supported the 178-lot development's potential to bring jobs and customers to local businesses, others expressed fears it would change the fabric of the town.

Councillor Daniel Simpson declared support for the proposal and said it wouldn't change the essential character of Evans Head.

"Staged development will mean more work for the local trades, it will also assist with permanent rental shortages, slow the increase of property prices as there is a little more supply and provide opportunities for some of our school leavers to get local apprenticeships," Cr Simpson wrote.

"It also provides environmental zones for the protection of the sensitive areas.

"In my opinion it is a sensible development and I will be supporting it."

But fellow local business owner Rani Stainton said she was not in favour of it - although she accepted that it would probably go ahead.

Ms Stainton said she was "very sympathetic to local businesses, but also mindful of the effects it can have if it's not done properly".

She called for the developer to address environmental issues in a "gen-uine way" so the legacy of the project could be something the community could be proud of.

"I don't think there should be shortcuts, we could use it as an example to other communities that it can be done well and in sympathy to its surroundings," Ms Stainton said.

Others simply vowed to blockade the site again.

Topics:  evans head, property development



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