An application for a new $18 million eco-tourist development right near the vandalised Anna Bay Resort has attracted mixed reactions from Port Stephens residents and community groups across the divide.
According to plans lodged with Port Stephens Council, the developer Sandcastle One Pty Ltd is seeking to construct 247 hotel-style and townhouse accommodation with swimming pool, gym, restaurant, function centre and children's facilities on 3.75 hectares of land at 58 Gan Gan Road.
The proposal also has 201 car and four coach parking spaces.
The site is next door to the Anna Bay Resort, which has been the subject of much community angst due to years of inaction and vandalism, and a land and environment court proceeding taken by the owner against the council set down for conciliation in January 2020.
Part-owner of Anna Bay Resort Frank Shi told the Examiner that he had no relationship or connection with the eco-tourist facility being proposed at 58 Gan Gan Road.
"You can search through DA tracker and find that the applicant/owner/developer is Wilson Hu. He is the current 50 per cent share holder of Anna Bay Resort. I am currently only focusing on how to improve the Anna Bay Resort site and trying to be able to make progress of the development," Mr Shi said.
Mr Hu could not be contacted for comment.
The council has provided residents with the minimum period (14 days) allowed for submissions, which close on November 7, which according to the Tomaree Residents and Ratepayers Association planning convenor Nigel Waters is "completely inadequate for such a major project of great local interest".
Deputy mayor and Anna Bay resident Sarah Smith, in welcoming submissions from the community, said that 14 days was standard practice but added: "Staff have advised that they will accept late submissions. I am happy to forward them on and ensure they are included."
Mr Waters believed the proposal was completely inconsistent with zoning of the site - RU2 Rural Landscape. "The description in the LEP says development should 'maintain the rural landscape character of the land'.
"Eco-tourist facility is a permitted use in RU2 but clearly not intended for this sort of major development."
Mr Waters said the TRRA believed that the application should be for a planning proposal to re-zone the land, which involved much better and fuller consultation and a wider range of considerations including a comprehensive assessment of environmental constraints.
"There are other environmental concerns, particularly management of wind-blown sand on this highly exposed site, as well as the concern to avoid the fate of the adjoining site."
South Tomaree Community Association spokesperson Roz Scoles said they were also concerned with the RU2 (rural landscape) zoning. "We believe the zoning would allow for a small eco development, not a state significant development to be decided by the Joint Regional Development Panel.
"We plan to lobby all Port Stephens councillors to find out more and pass information onto the community. South Tomaree Community Association is not against development but we would like to see responsible, sustainable development that is a benefit to the whole community," Ms Scoles said.
Another Anna Bay community advocate and member of Next Wave, Kellie Hammond, said it was important that all parties were open, transparent and honest with the community of Anna Bay.
"Turn back the clock 10 years and what have we learned from the resort next door? Does Anna Bay have the infrastructure to support two resorts? Our town's master plan is outdated (2008) and our coastal town is unique and deserves protecting."
Ms Hammond said there was widespread excitement among the wide community that Anna Bay, after years of neglect, had become the focus for much-needed addition, improvements and upgrades.
"We are on council's agenda with the promise of new pathways, the 7-day makeover of the town centre, upgrade of Robinson Reserve and construction of the bus interchange so there is plenty to look forward to. We don't want to make mistakes."
The 7-Day Makeover will commence with an information day at Birubi Surf Lifesaving Club on Tuesday, October 29, with the work scheduled to take place from November 30 to December 7.
"We want the community to know that these dates are open to anyone - youth, businesses, residents, schools, and also outside of area community that want to help out."
Anyone wishing to make a submission on the proposal before November 15, 2019 can do so via email at email@example.com or write to PO Box 42 Raymond Terrace NSW 2324.
ALSO MAKING NEWS