Locals concerned over development on Aboriginal land

A GROUP of Iluka residents has raised concerns over a proposed 162-lot subdivision development expected to be built on land owned by Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Iluka Bait and Tackle owner Sonia Deakin said the group was not opposed to a development in the coastal town, but wanted a review of the proposed development to incorporate more of Iluka's natural beauty.

"Everyone I have spoken to agrees that they are for the development," Ms Deakin said.

"It is just 162 brick and tile homes stacked next to each other in a row is not right for Iluka.

"The thing that makes Iluka different to other coastal towns is that we encompass the natural beauty of the land around us."

Developer, Central Coast-based firm The Stevens Group, said embracing the natural landscape was a part of the project and reputable consultants had been used to ensure all standards of ecology remained high.

"We are very professional developers, we do this a lot, and we do use very reputable consultants particularly in relation to ecology and the surround- ing environment," The Stevens Group manager of planning Lin Armstrong said. "We did not just draw up a plan and lodge it with council - this was an iterative process.

"We utilised Keystone Ecological who are local ecology specialists."

Ms Armstrong said The Stevens Group would not engage with members directly but use Clarence Valley Council as a third-party intermediary through the Development Application approval process.

"Community engagement from our point of view is a great tool," she said.

"I find it is a very difficult process as a developer to have direct community engagement.

"There is a such a large number of opinions that we need those opinions to be consulted by a third party, in this case the council.

"They filter those opinions and come back to us with a just community response." However Ms Deakin said communication with the council had been a struggle.

"We want to be able to put forward our voice, and for everyone in the commu- nity to say what is going on in their town," she said.

"Can we have some consultation, can we see some plans, at least listen to our suggestions."

The council has approached the Stevens Group to provide further information on the DA following concerns raised by community members.

The DA is still up for viewing and submissions until February 12.

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