WATERFRONT BATTLE: President of WATER (Water Access to Encourage Recreation) Denis Magnay with residents fighting for waterfront access at private land fronting North Creek.
WATERFRONT BATTLE: President of WATER (Water Access to Encourage Recreation) Denis Magnay with residents fighting for waterfront access at private land fronting North Creek. Graham Broadhead

Battle looms over North Creek waterfront access

A BATTLE is looming over public access to the waterfront at North Creek in Ballina.

Just before Christmas, Ballina Shire Council gave deferred approval of a rock wall along the creek frontage of three Camden Ln properties on the proviso the three landowners provide an easement for public access.

But Ballina solicitor and resident at one of the properties, Peter Carmont Snr, advised the council the landowners were not prepared to provide that "right of way" to the public through private land.

He said discussions were now taking place to appeal the council's decision through the NSW Land and Environment Court.

He said a fourth landowner, who pulled out of the final of three development applications for the wall, would not provide a legal right of way across the creek frontage of her property.

Mr Carmont said a 3m-wide easement would split the privately-owned land, the boundaries of which are further east of the proposed site of the wall.

"If the wall is constructed, we have no objection to people walking in front (the creekside) of the wall," he said.

"They (the public) have relied on our good faith for 40 years. We've never stopped anybody for 40 years. We own the land. Do they (council) want to pay us for the land?"

Mr Carmont questioned whether the council could impose a public right of way through private land.

He said the wall had been proposed to protect the three properties from erosion threats.

He pointed to the council's own flood study, which highlighted storm surges as a threat in the neighbourhood, and also to the existence of other rock walls in the area.

President of the organisation Water Access To Encourage Recreation (WATER), Denis Magnay, has lobbied for developers and landowners to provide waterfront access in other locations around the Ballina CBD.

He has joined the fight to maintain access at the North Creek site.

He said his group would wait until any legal processes were played out, but called on the council to hold its ground on public access to the waterfront.

Meanwhile, residents said they wanted to continue to use the sandy area on the creek frontage of the three properties to fish, swim or walk as many of the long-term locals had done for more than 40 years.



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