ON SITE: The controversial Iron Gates development at Evans Head is back on the map with a new development application under consideration.
ON SITE: The controversial Iron Gates development at Evans Head is back on the map with a new development application under consideration. Marc Stapelberg

Developer opens up on Iron Gates

THE developer behind the long-controversial Iron Gates residential subdivision at Evans Head has broken his silence, arguing the project is good for the town.

Gold Coast-based Graeme Ingles is director of the company behind the 176-lot plan currently on exhibition with the NSW Department of Planning, which will be decided upon by the Joint Regional Planning Panel later this year.

The development at Iron Gates Drive will subdivide three adjoining parcels of land into 176-lots plus four public reserves and three fire trails.

Mr Ingles said he had spoken to several local residents in Evans Head and they were "excited about the prospect of the development going ahead".

"The residential zoning at Iron Gates is important to the town as it is the only major source of future residential land to enable further growth [of Evans Head] and will provide employment and dwellings for families, who would have otherwise have left the town," he said.

Mr Ingles also responded to criticisms that his previous company Iron Gates Pty Ltd, failed to remediate the site when ordered to by the Land and Environment Court in 1997 after approval for a more ambitious 650-lot development on the site was overturned.

He said the remediation issues were dealt with under the current development application to Richmond Valley Council and would be "addressed at the time of construction".

Yet the development remains deeply unpopular with some, with critics citing its controversial history as a reason it should not go ahead.

Principal solicitor for the Environmental Defenders Office Sue Higginson said the proponent had still not been held to account for past environmental destruction at the site.

"Ultimately the court made orders to remediate land, those orders were made to a particular company, the director of which has now reinvented himself under a new company and hasn't obeyed those orders," Ms Higginson said.

"I think it is like mocking the system, because clearly not one effort has been made by that director to obey those court orders.

"Now the same person... who claims he couldn't afford to implement those orders is somehow able to make a multi-million dollar investment, which from an ecological perspective is further damaging the land."

In response, Mr Ingles said in a statement that a "detailed flora and fauna report was lodged with the development application and environmental and other concerns raised in relation to the application have been dealt with by my consultants and the Richmond Valley Council".



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