Residents threaten legal action
LUXURY ocean-view homes at Lennox Head could be surrounded by units built for struggling renters if a $7 million development application is approved.
Residents in ritzy Greenwood Grove are furious with local developer Chris Condon over his plans to build 74 affordable housing units near their properties.
He has lodged the application under the State Government's State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Housing).
A spokesman for Greenwood Grove residents, who did not want to be named, said they supported affordable housing, but believed it was not the right location.
“This is not about philanthropy for Chris Condon. It's a profit-making opportunity,” he said.
“He is using the SEPP to resolve the problem of developing the land.
“We bought here based on the Greenwood Grove management plan, in which there would be another 18 homes on about 1200sqm lots.
“We want to enjoy the amenity and environment that we have here.
“It's peaceful, quiet, you can hear the birds and it's a lovely atmosphere. It's a safe place for kids to play.
“Obviously if you build 74 units, all that's going to change dramatically.”
However, planner Steve Connelly, who lodged the application on behalf of Mr Condon, said the development was consistent with the Ballina council's new affordable housing strategy.
“This is a better development prospect for my client,” he said. “It is a concern that people are unhappy.
“However, the policy that governs affordable housing is a State Government one and it deliberately changes the rules.
“There has to be a balance against the need for people to have good shelter.
“In our shire that's something we struggle with.”
Greenwood Grove residents are concerned about their investments, with one man saying his wife cried for two days after finding out about the application.
“We made the decision to buy and build here based on the facts that were available to us,” he said.
“These are expensive parcels of land.
“But the goalposts have been moved so far we can't even see them any more.”
It is understood residents have banded together and are considering legal action.
The residents' spokesman would only say they were ‘looking at all of the options available'.
But The Northern Star has obtained a letter from solicitor Robert Warren, of Somerville Laundry Lomax, to Mr Condon's company, Greenwood Grove Estate, which says residents will take legal action unless the application is immediately withdrawn.
Mr Connelly admitted the goalposts had been moved, but said it was because of ‘very deliberate legislation from the State Government'.
“At the time these residents purchased their property there was one set of rules,” he said.
“Now there's another set of rules.
“We think it's a great location for this type of affordable housing development.”
The units would be rented out to eligible low and moderate income earners at 20 per cent below market rates.
But residents believe this type of development is not suitable for the ‘outskirts of Lennox Head'.
“You have remnant rainforest that's going to be surrounded by units. It's not right,” one resident said.
“Affordable housing units should be built close to facilities such as shops and public transport. Those things are not available here.”
The application for the74 units will be assessed by the Joint Regional Planning Panel, with the public exhibition period starting on Thursday and finishing on July 23.