Victory at last for property developer
The NSW Land and Environment Court yesterday dismissed an appeal against Mr Condon's approval to destroy Aboriginal middens at the $40 million East Ballina site. Work on the subdivision could start as early as next month.
But the controversial developer reacted modestly when asked about his victory, simply saying that he was 'relieved it's all over'.
"I am looking forward to getting on with this very exciting project for Ballina," Mr Condon said.
"Six years after acquiring the North Angels Beach site we are relieved to be close to the start of this much-needed development."
He said work could start as soon as he received a construction certificate from Ballina Shire Council.
It has been a hard slog for Mr Condon to get this far. The application to build 63 houses and 100 apartments and townhouses on the 10-hectare site has been in and out of court since the development application was lodged with the NSW Department of Planning in 2004.
It has since been subject to controversy, with Aboriginal elders Susan and Douglas Anderson fighting to preserve the high cultural significance of the site for the Bundjalung's Numbahjing clan.
But yesterday the Andersons' claims, that the approval given to Mr Condon to destroy Aboriginal middens at the site last year was affected by bias, were rejected.
Justice Lloyd concluded the Andersons had failed to establish the grounds they relied on to challenge the director-general's decision to approve the application.
"The allegation that the director-general was affected by bias is rejected," Justice Lloyd said.
"It amounts to nothing more than dissatisfaction with the decision-maker's acceptance of opinions, based on material which is compelling and which are contrary to those of the Andersons."
The Andersons' representative Ian Ratcliff, senior solicitor at the Environmental Protection Office Northern Rivers, said it was a disappointing outcome for his clients.
"The history of the case shows a lack of any real legal protection being given to sites of cultural significance in NSW," he said.
Mr Ratcliff said the Andersons would consider taking further action in due course.