Condons fight to build on hill
The Northern Star: Why do you want to develop the land?
Margaret Condon: This is not a remote site and as farming is no longer a viable proposition, in order to meet escalating costs (rates), we had to explore alternatives. We decided to look at developing (the land) in 2000.
Why build the seniors residential development?
It's an ideal location for a start and having an elderly mother, you become increasingly aware of the support she needs, and there are many people who are not fortunate to have the strong family network such as ours.
Were you consulted during the preparation of the application to rezone much of your property as 7(d) Environmental Protection (Scenic Escarpment)?
There were no prior meetings or consultation with us before it (the rezoning application) went on public exhibition, until this week when we lodged our submission (opinions of the rezoning proposal).
How much is the development site worth?
A section of the Lennox Head community is very much against the development. What do you think they have against it?
There is a misunderstanding by some people about this process. It is a fact we're not developing the top or ridge of the hill and plan to have this area rezoned to open space. What we object to is the extent of the rezoning by the council ? this is where people are being misled. We agree the ridge/hill should remain as open space.
While there are obviously people against the development, there are many people who support it. I've had many positive comments made to me, either in person or through phone calls, and many have come from people I do not know.
Has your family always had intentions to develop the land?
Initially, no. My parents bought the land as a dairy farm, but it has been in our thoughts for some years due to the changing circumstances.
The development application was lodged soon after the proposal to rezone the land was lodged. Was the Seniors Living DA a kneejerk reaction and a bid to develop the land before it could potentially be rezoned?
No, it was not a knee-jerk reaction. It takes six to eight months to prepare a detailed application. It is not something you can pull together in 12 days.
Where is the $44 million to build the complex coming from?
Normal project funding sources.
If the rezoning is approved, will you amend the DA and proceed with the Seniors Living development in a modified version?
If approved in the current form, it is not possible to develop the land. We would be unable to proceed with the Seniors Living development, as it leaves us with only 0.76 hectares, which is divided into two separate parcels at opposite ends of the property. This alone dictates there will be insufficient land to con- struct a seniors community.
If the rezoning goes ahead, would you consider selling the property?
This is our family home. This is a harsh option and I don't even want to contemplate it at this time.
Do you feel residents are being unfair in their disapproval of the development?
I don't believe the majority of Lennox Head disapproves of the development. I believe there is no other location available in Lennox Head that can offer the benefit to seniors that this location has.
Do you think your family deserves to be able to proceed with the development because of previous contributions to the community?
Our previous contributions to the community infrastructure have definitely enhanced the community. I believe the application should be judged on merit as it's a development the community needs now.
Do you think the Seniors Living development would alter the 'feeling' of Lennox Head?
The feeling 43 years ago was a lot different to 20 years ago, 10 years ago and even now. And I also imagine in 10 years time and 40 years time. I believe a feeling cannot remain constant, as we live in a lovely area and people have the right to realise life-long dreams and settle in the area of their choice.
Thank you for allowing us to take a photo, but why would you not agree to a one-on-one interview?