BOAMBEE EAST COMMUNITY CENTRE – OBJECTION SUBMISSION for DEVELOPMENT APPLICATION 0493/23DA

Development application context

 

The area that will be impacted by the proposed development, particularly the proposed access road from Bruce King Drive, includes Boambee East Community Centre, the Community Garden and community parkland and play equipment.  This area is used extensively by:

  • visitors to the community centre who participate in the community programs that are facilitated both within the centre and on the grounds surrounding the centre, including a number of programs for those experiencing socio-economic disadvantage, children’s play groups, and baby health;
  • visitors to and gardeners working in the community garden;
  • large numbers of community members who attend the Boambee East Community Centre’s Annual Winter Solstice Festival;
  • families and children using the swings located near the community garden or the open areas to ride their bikes or play outdoor games; and 
  • community members using the public reserve area to exercise and to walk their dogs.

The importance of the open space on this community land to the local community is recognised in the Boambee East Community Reserve Plan of Management (June 2016) which states that one of the significant actions of the plan is the development of a district level social family recreation space, as recommended in the 2010 Coffs Harbour Open Space Strategy.

 

The EIS acknowledges (p.27) that the open space area near Bruce King Drive is well used and valued by the community and that any access arrangements need to ensure the future use options for this area are not compromised. 

 

The proposed access road to Bruce King Drive from the proposed subdivision will have a significant negative impact on the amenity and safety of the existing community space, particularly the open space, both during construction and when completed.  

 

The proposed access road traverses land presently designated as community land and the proposed road’s purpose does not meet the requirements of section 47F of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW).  As such, no legal basis exists presently to construct a road on this land (see below).

 

The proposed access road will have negative impact on the safety of Bruce King Drive and its intersection with the Pacific Highway because it does not comply with present NSW guidelines and regulations due to its close proximity to the Highway and a shared cycle and pedestrian path that runs along the highway (see below).

 

The road will also have a significant negative impact on community land presently zoned as C2 Environmental Conservation which is proposed to be cleared as part of the development.  This land contains threatened ecosystems, prime koala habitat and species identified as species at risk of Serious and Irreversible Impacts.

 

The road is likely to have a negative impact on the flood risk of the cleared community land around it, including the community garden and community centre.

 

We note that the development application states that the following development types apply to the proposed development: 

 

  • Designated Development;
  • Integrated Development;
  • Threatened Species Development. 

We also note that the proponent has declared that he has no relationship with any staff or councillor of the council assessing the application.  However, we note he is a former senior strategic planned for Coffs Harbour City Council.

 

The objectives for this proposal (according to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)) are to provide an allotment lot layout that: 

  • is in keeping with the physical features and constraints of the land. 
  • will provide for a development in keeping with the surrounding area. 
  • provides an investment return and additional residential living opportunities in Boambee East. 

 

We note that there is no mention of environmental objectives, despite legislation and regulations requiring this to be a key issue for the EIS for this development and the high biodiversity value of the land that will be impacted by this development, should it proceed.

 

We also note that the alignment of the proposed lots for the subdivision does not appear to meet the requirements of section C1.2 of the Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 (Coffs Harbour CDP) which includes that subdivisions are to be designed to maximise solar access and minimise overshadowing from future development and roads are to be designed so that the majority of their length is within the range N20°W to N30°E or E20°N to E30°S.

 

As well as resulting in minimal solar access, the alignment proposed in the development application results in fewer larger blocks.  This layout proposed in the Coffs Harbour CDP 2015, would enable higher density development options in accordance with the present Z3 – Medium Density zoning.

 

Proposed collector road from Bruce King Drive

 

We note that the development application proposes that the subdivision would be accessed by a proposed road from the proposed subdivision across an existing council reserve designated as community land (the Boambee East Community Reserve) to an intersection with Bruce King Drive, close to the existing exit from the Pacific Highway.

 

We also note that, if the development application is approved as is, this would result in the redrawing to the east of the western boundary of the existing community land by nearly 20m (including road, verge and batters), resulting in a reduction in the apparent size of the land available to the community of at least 3,000m2.  

 

It is unclear how this would be permitted under present legislation, given no Plan of Management exists to allow this.

 

Legal basis of proposed access road

 

The Engineering Assessment Report for the proposed development notes that it is proposed to construct a new access road from Bruce King Drive to the development site generally in accordance with the Boambee Creek Masterplan and that the road will consist of an 8m wide carriageway with barrier kerb and gutter both sides. 

 

Drawing DA03 shows that the proposed access road for the development lies within the boundaries of existing community land on Lot 204, DP 828816.  

 

The status of the lot as Community Land is confirmed in the minutes of the Coffs Harbour City Council Ordinary Meeting on 14 July 2016.

 

Under Section 10 of the Roads Act 1993 (NSW):

(1)  TfNSW [Transport for NSW] or a council may, by notice published in the Gazette, dedicate any land held by it (including land acquired by it under Division 1 of Part 12) as a public road.

(2)  On the publication of the notice, the land is dedicated as a public road.

 

However, under Section 47F of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW):

Community land may not be dedicated as a public road under section 10 of the Roads Act 1993 unless—

(a)  the road is necessary to facilitate enjoyment of the area of community land on which the road is to be constructed or of any facility on that land, and

(b)  the council has considered means of access other than public road access to facilitate that enjoyment, and

(c)  there is a plan of management applying only to the land concerned and provision of the public road is expressly authorised in the plan of management.

 

The proposed access road from Bruce King Drive to the proposed subdivision is required to allow access for residents to the proposed subdivision, rather than for the purpose of enabling public access to the area of community land as is demonstrated by the fact that:

 

  •  no carparking has been allowed for along the proposed access road for subdivision residents to access the community areas; and
  •  alternative means of access for the community (including those who may reside in the proposed development) to this community land already exist, including pathways through the conservation area from the proposed development.

It is also noted that the road as mapped in the Boambee East Community Reserve Plan of Management 2016 (PoM): 

 

  • does not take the same path as that proposed in the development application; and
  • ends at the boundary of the area deemed to be Conservation Area in the PoM, rather than extending through this area as proposed in the Development Application.

As such opening an access road from Bruce King Drive to the proposed subdivision on presently designated community land, as presently presented in the development application is not permitted under the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) so an development application to build such a road should not be approved.

 

We note that the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) enables the council to reclassify Community Land to Operational Land.  However, we note that, if this were to occur, the following provisions of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) would apply:

 

29   Public hearing into reclassification

(1)  A council must arrange a public hearing under section 57 of the Environment Planning and Assessment Act 1979 in respect of a planning proposal under Part 3 of that Act to reclassify community land as operational land, unless a public hearing has already been held in respect of the same matter as a result of a determination under section 56(2)(e) of that Act.

(2)  A council must, before making any resolution under section 32, arrange a public hearing in respect of any proposal to reclassify land as operational land by such a resolution.

 

30   Reclassification of community land as operational

(1)  A local environmental plan that reclassifies community land as operational land may make provision to the effect that, on commencement of the plan, the land, if it is a public reserve, ceases to be a public reserve, and that the land is by operation of the plan discharged from any trusts, estates, interests, dedications, conditions, restrictions and covenants affecting the land or any part of the land [Note: as the land does not meet one of the exceptions under this provision, existing leases for the community centre and community garden would be cancelled].

 

34   Public notice to be given of classification or reclassification by council resolution

(1)  A council must give public notice of a proposed resolution to classify or reclassify public land.

(2)  The public notice must include the terms of the proposed resolution and a description of the public land concerned.

(3)  The public notice must specify a period of not less than 28 days during which submissions may be made to the council.

 

We also note the following requirements of the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW) in relation to Plans of Management for Community Land:

 

36A   Community land comprising the habitat of endangered species

(2)  A plan of management adopted in respect of an area of community land, all or part of which consists of critical habitat, is to apply to that area only, and not to other areas of land.

Can this be circumvented by the Council changing the classification to “Operational” land?

 

36C   Community land containing significant natural features

(1)  This section applies to community land that is the subject of a resolution by the council that declares that the land, being the site of—

(a)  a known natural, geological, geomorphological, scenic or other feature that is considered by the council to warrant protection or special management considerations, or

(b)  a wildlife corridor,

is land to which this section applies.

(2)  A plan of management adopted in respect of an area of community land, all or part of which is land to which this section applies, is to apply to that area only, and not to other areas of land.

 

36E   Core objectives for management of community land categorised as a natural area

The core objectives for management of community land categorised as a natural area are—

(a)  to conserve biodiversity and maintain ecosystem function in respect of the land, or the feature or habitat in respect of which the land is categorised as a natural area, and

(b)  to maintain the land, or that feature or habitat, in its natural state and setting, and

(c)  to provide for the restoration and regeneration of the land, and

(d)  to provide for community use of and access to the land in such a manner as will minimise and mitigate any disturbance caused by human intrusion

 

36J   Core objectives for management of community land categorised as bushland

The core objectives for management of community land categorised as bushland are—

(a)  to ensure the ongoing ecological viability of the land by protecting the ecological biodiversity and habitat values of the land, the flora and fauna (including invertebrates, fungi and micro-organisms) of the land and other ecological values of the land, and

(b)  to protect the aesthetic, heritage, recreational, educational and scientific values of the land, and

(c)  to promote the management of the land in a manner that protects and enhances the values and quality of the land and facilitates public enjoyment of the land, and to implement measures directed to minimising or mitigating any disturbance caused by human intrusion, and

(d)  to restore degraded bushland, and

(e)  to protect existing landforms such as natural drainage lines, watercourses and foreshores, and

(f)  to retain bushland in parcels of a size and configuration that will enable the existing plant and animal communities to survive in the long term, and

(g)  to protect bushland as a natural stabiliser of the soil surface.

 

41   Amendment of plans of management

A council may amend a plan of management adopted under this Division by means only of a plan of management so adopted [including legislated exhibition periods and consultation requirements].

 

Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA)

 

Vehicle/Trip numbers

 

The TIA provided with the Development Application notes that “[f]or road planning purposes Coffs Harbour City Council specifies a daily traffic generation rate of 10 trips per dwelling” (section 4.1).  This would mean that a total of 700 trips per day should be used for analysis of trip/vehicle numbers.

 

The TIA includes an estimate peak traffic generation from the proposed development of only around 60 vehicles per hour which has been calculated using TfNSW data.  Using this data results in estimates only 518 total additional trips per day to be generated as a result of the subdivision. 

 

Also, using TfNSW regional average data, as the TIA has done, fails to appreciate the “left only turn” status of the intersection between Bruce King Drive and the Pacific Highway, which means much of the traffic that uses Bruce King Drive does so in the afternoon peak.

 

Let us assume reasonably (based on existing traffic flows each hour as set out in Attachment B of the TIA) that very few trips take place before 0630 and after 2130.  

 

Based on the existing data for Bruce King Drive (presented in Attachment B of the TIA), the number of vehicles between 4pm and 6pm is at least double that during other hours, of the day.  As such, it is difficult to understand how the author of the TIA can justify an estimate of peak traffic of only 60 vehicles per hour from a total of 700 trips per day.  It is likely to be much higher than this.

 

It also means that the “simple assessment of likely intersection traffic volumes”, used as evidence for the claim that the “proposal will have no impact on levels of service on Bruce King Drive”, is difficult to justify.  

 

Further, section 2.2 of the TIA notes that the Traffic volumes on Bruce King Drive average less than 2500 vehicles per day with peak hour volume occurring generally 5pm to 6pm, with less than 100 vehicles per hour.  Even if we assume the estimated peak of 60 vehicles per hour as a result of the subdivision is correct, and use the existing peak demand of 100 vehicles per hour, this would represent an increase in traffic of 60% as a result of the development.  As such, it’s difficult to see how the claim that the “proposal will have no impact on levels of service on Bruce King Drive” can be justified.

 

The above indicates that the proposed access road from Bruce King Drive to the subdivision will considerably increase traffic on Bruce King Drive, particularly in afternoon peak times. 

 

Traffic, pedestrian and cyclists’ safety

 

The TIA indicates that it has used 2021 TfNSW traffic speed data on Bruce King Drive, collected 40m from the intersection of Bruce King Drive and the Pacific highway, and has not undertaken its own surveys of vehicle numbers and speed at this location.  

 

We note that the data and analysis provided in the TIA has only considered average speed, rather than peak speeds, of vehicles at this location.  High speeds of vehicles exiting from the 100km/h highway (as we have observed on numerous occasions) is likely to have a significant impact on the safety of vehicles turning from the proposed access road into Bruce King Drive (right or left).  

Also, vehicles breaking heavily to turn left into the proposed access road, only 35m after entering Bruce King Drive from the Pacific Highway, combined with a significant increase in the total number of vehicles exiting the highway onto Bruce King Drive in peak times, will reduce considerably traffic safety on Bruce King Drive.

 

It could also impact safety on the Pacific Highway, for both vehicles turning and vehicles continuing south on the Highway, particularly if the free movement of traffic entering the left turning lane from the Pacific Highway is compromised due to:

 

  • an increase in traffic turning into Bruce King Drive from the Pacific Highway in the peak evening period; and/or
  • queued or slow-moving traffic turning left into the proposed subdivision access road during afternoon peak times, to give way to pedestrians or cyclists crossing that road; and/or
  • late breaking required for vehicles turning right onto Bruce King Drive from the proposed access road, given inadequate site lines (see discussion of Safe Intersection Site Distance (SISD) below); and/or
  • pedestrians or cyclists crossing the shared path (who have right of way over vehicles turning left from the Bruce King Highway into Bruce King Drive), particularly during peak afternoon times; and/or
  • the need for quite heavy deceleration before entering and whilst in the left turning lane onto Bruce King Drive from the 100km/h zone, to ensure that the turn into Bruce King Drive can be negotiated safely.

 The TIA notes that the Safe Intersection Site Distance (SISD) that should apply to for traffic turning left into Bruce King Drive from the Pacific Highway is 67m, using an assumed design speed of 40 km/h and a reaction time of 1.5 second.  

 

However, the notes accompanying Table 3.2 of Austroads’ Guide to Road Design Part 4A: Unsignalised and Signalised Intersections indicate that a 1.5 sec reaction time is only to be used in constrained situations where drivers will be alert and that the general minimum reaction time is 2 sec.  

 

Given that the majority of traffic making this left turn will be drivers returning home at the end of their workday, focussing on decelerating from 100km/h to 50km/h, making a turn, and needing to give way to users of the shared pedestrian and cycling pathway, an assumption that they will be alert to traffic turning out of the proposed access road is not reasonable.  Given this, the reaction time that should be used to calculate SISD is 2.0 seconds, resulting in a required SISD of 73m.

 

Section 3.2.2 of Austroads’ Guide to Road Design Part 4A: Unsignalised and Signalised Intersections notes that SISD

 

  • is viewed between two points to provide inter-visibility between drivers and vehicles on the major road and minor road approaches;
  • is measured from a driver eye height of 1.1 m above the road to points 1.25 m above the road; and 
  • assumes the driver on the minor road (in this case the proposed access road) is situated at a distance of 7.0m (minimum of 5.0m) from the conflict point on the major road. 

The TIA indicates that that the measured sight distance from a vehicle on Bruce King Drive to a vehicle on the Pacific Highway left turn slip lane is approximately 70m.  However, the distance that is of relevance here is the distance from the vehicle turning left from the Pacific Highway to a vehicle turning out of the proposed access road and at least 5m back from the conflict point.  Due to existing vegetation in the radius of the turn from the highway into Bruce King Drive, the maximum sight distance between two such vehicles is 55m.  This is significantly shorter than the 73m that the guidelines suggest.

 

In addition, an existing shared pedestrian and cycling pathway traverses Bruce King Drive between the left turn onto Bruce King Drive and the intersection of the proposed access road with Bruce King Drive (approximately 10m from the left turn off the Pacific Highway and approximately 10m from the proposed new intersection with Bruce King Drive for the subdevelopment access road).

 

As such, adequate SISD allowance is critical to ensure safety for any new intersection with Bruce King Drive that is situated near the Pacific Highway intersection.

 

We note that issues raised by Council’s Technical Liaison Committee with the applicant include Traffic and access, particularly closeness of intersection to Pacific Highway.  

 

We also note that:

 

  • discussions held between Boambee East Community Centre and the applicant included the applicant raising the possibility of moving the proposed access road further to the East; 
  • that a proposed road on the Boambee East Community Reserve Plan of Management 2016 is sited further east of the intersection of Bruce King Drive with the Pacific Highway, than the road proposed in the development application; and 
  • during public consultation regarding the Boambee East Community Reserve Plan of Management 2016, prior to its adoption by council in June 2016, concerns were expressed about the future collector road that appeared on the plan, further east of the presently proposed location (see council meeting agenda for Ordinary Meeting 23 June 2016).

 If the access road were to be moved further east, it would impact considerably on the public amenity and safety of the community areas and facilities that use the existing community land because it would: 

 

  • traverse an area used by the community to exercise and walk their dogs;
  • move to within 40m of community play equipment used by children; 
  • traverse an area used by the Boambee East Community Centre for visitor parking and facilities for their annual Winter Solstice fund raiser; and
  • increase that the flow of water during minor flooding (as happened last year) towards the community garden and community centre amenities due to the road needing to be being raised above the community land around it.

Section 3.2 of Austroads’ Guide to Road Design Part 4A: Unsignalised and Signalised Intersections notes that the types of sight distance that must be provided in the design of all intersections include:

  • approach sight distance (ASD)
  • safe intersection sight distance (SISD)
  • minimum gap sight distance (MGSD).

 

Although the TIA considered SISD, it does not address MGSD.

 

In addition, the TIA does not address what traffic control measures are planned for the intersection of the proposed access road with Bruce King Drive. 

 

As already discussed, a cycling and pedestrian shared path traverses Bruce King Drive between the Pacific Highway and the proposed access road.  This is located only 10m from the Pacific Highway intersection and 10m from the proposed access road.

 

Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has provided comment on the subdivision proposal and has indicated that: “The development application will need to be supported by a Traffic Impact Statement (TIA) prepared in accordance with Austroads Guide to Traffic Management Part 12. In particular, TfNSW requests the road safety assessment in the TIA address the interaction of vehicles and cyclists on Bruce King Drive as vehicles turning from the Pacific Highway into the local road are transitioning from a 100km/h speed environment to a 50km/h local street.” (TIA s1.1)

 

The TIA does not provide any data or analysis in relation to the use of Bruce King Drive by cyclists locally or accessing the shared path that runs along the Pacific Highway.  This data is crucial to determining and managing risks to pedestrians and cyclists that could increase: 

 

  • due to additional vehicles using Bruce King Drive as a result of the proposed development, particularly during peak times in winter after sunset; and 
  • the proximity of the shared pathway to both the Pacific Highway intersection on Bruce King Drive and the intersection of Bruce King Drive and the proposed access road for the development.

 In addition, the Cycleway Design Toolbox by Transport for NSW: Designing for cycling and micromobility, suggests the following strategy to improve crossings for people walking and cycling and maximise the propensity for walking and cycling: prioritise pedestrian and cycling movements over motorised traffic by providing raised top pedestrian and cycling crossings at unsignalised crossing points (p12).

 

It notes that: “where a cycling route intersects with a side street, the preferred treatment is a continuous cycleway with priority to bicycle riders. By prioritising vulnerable road users and removing ambiguity, a higher level of safety will be achieved for walking and cycling customers.” 

 

We note that the TIA and other DA documentation does not include any plan for providing raised top pedestrian and cycling crossings across the proposed access road from Bruce King Drive.

 

The TIA (s1.1) claims that “Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has provided comments on the subdivision proposal and support development of the road access from Bruce King Drive. The claim the NSW Government supports the proposal is not supported by evidence provided by the applicant as part of the application (at least not in the public documents), rather correspondence from TfNSW implies that it prefers the proposed access road off Bruce King Drive rather than having direct access to the Pacific Highway from the proposed subdivision.  

 

TfNSW’s response to a request for input to Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements specifies information that they want included in the TIA, including, inter alia:

 

5. The total impact of existing and proposed development on the transport network with consideration for a 10-year horizon. This should include…: 

     c. The volume and distribution of existing and proposed trips generated by development. This should identify the maximum daily and hourly demands generated by development. It is requested that the predicted traffic flows are shown diagrammatically to a level of detail sufficient for easy interpretation. 

     d. The type and frequency of design vehicles accessing the development site. 

6.  An assessment of turn treatment warrants in accordance with the Austroads Guide to Traffic Management Part 6 and Austroads Guide to Road Design Part 4A at identified intersections, identifying the existence of the minimum basic turn treatments, and addressing the need for any warranted higher order treatments. 

7.  Capacity analysis using SIDRA or other relevant application, to identify an acceptable Level of Service (LOS) at intersections with the classified (State) road/s, and where relevant, analysis of any other intersections along the proposed transport route/s. 

8.  … Details of any extension to existing infrastructure and services required to minimise private car travel and encourage travel by alternate modes. Evidence of consultation with local bus service providers.

9.  Strategic (2D) design drawings of all proposed road works and the site access demonstrating scope, estimated cost and constructability of works required to mitigate the impacts of the development on road safety, traffic efficiency and the integrity of transport infrastructure. Works must be appropriately designed for the existing posted speed limit. 

10. Swept path analysis demonstrating the largest design vehicle entering and leaving the development and moving in each direction through intersections. 

 

However, this information is either not included in the TIA or not included for each of the intersections designated by TfNSW as intersections that are considered of relevance to the assessment. 

 

We note that a significant backlog of traffic occurs during after school hours on Bruce King Drive at the intersection of Bruce King Drive and Linden Ave but this has not been addressed in the Traffic Impact Assessment or the EIS.

 

The Engineering Assessment Report (para. 3.2) notes that “the two existing driveway connections to the Pacific Highway will be either be removed or possibly retained for emergency vehicle only access. The existing rural properties not included in this development will be provided new connections to the roads constructed as part of the development.”

 

The TIA claims that the proposed access road from Bruce King Drive will have no driveways or other access points along it.  However, it does not explain how the property on Lot A DP417177 (which presumably will remain) will be accessed.   

 

Environmental Impact

 

The development application states that potential or actual environmental impacts of the proposed project include:

 

  • clearing of land included on the Biodiversity Values Map published under Clause 7.3 of the Biodiversity Conservation Regulation (p.14, Environmental Assessment Requirements Report (EARR), attached to the Biodiversity Development Assessment Report (BDAR));
  • clearing of prime koala habitat totalling 3,000m2 and the removal of this habitat could potentially result in death or injury to koalas, displacement, or indirect impacts such as vehicle strike;
  • impact on a coastal wetland and associated proximity mapped under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Resilience and Hazards) 2021 (p.i, BDAR);
  • clearing of 4,600m2 of native vegetation (p.i, BDAR), including Coast and Escarpment Blackbutt Dry Forest and Coastal Paperbark Swamp Oak Floodplain Forest, and Swamp Sclerophyll Forest identified as an endangered ecological community (p. 14, Boambee East Community Reserve Plan of Management ‐ April 2016); and
  • clearing of land where eight candidate threatened species at risk of Serious and Irreversible Impacts (SAII) have been assumed to be present, three of which are listed under both the NSW and Commonwealth legislation:

      *Acronychia littorals (scented acronychia)

      Alexfloydia repens (Floyd’s grass)

      *Argynnis hyperbius (laced fritillary)

      Miniopterus australis (little bent winged bat)

      Miniopterus orianae oceanensis (large bent-winged bat)

      *Mixophyes balbus (stuttering frog)

      Petalura litorea (coastal petaltail)

      Vespadelus troughtoni (eastern cave bat).

*listed under both BC Act and EPBC Act (Environmental Assessment Requirements Report p. 15 attached to the BDAR).

 

Prime Koala Habitat loss

 

The BDAR notes that prime koala habitat totalling 3,000m2 will need to be cleared for the proposed subdivision and that the removal of habitat could potentially result in death or injury to koalas, displacement, or indirect impacts such as vehicle strike. 

 

The Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 requires an offset replacement rate of 5 to 1 for Prime Koala Habitat.  As such, offsetting the loss of the 3,000m2 will require the planting of an additional 15,000m2 of habitat.

 

A potential site identified in the BDAR for this 15,000m2 of planting is the area adjoining the remaining prime koala habitat on the council-controlled allotment (Lot 204 on DP8288116).

 

We also note section E1.2(3) of the Coffs Harbour Development Control plan which states that: where practicable, compensatory planting is to be located on the subject site to enhance habitat links.

 

However, we note that planting out such a large area of the existing cleared land on the lot 204 would have a significant negative impact on the amenity of the existing cleared area for the community centre and its visitors, the community garden and those who use the existing cleared areas for recreation.  Indeed, it would take up much of the present cleared area on the community land.  It would preclude many of the activities for which this land is presently used.

 

We note the EIS does not provide any information about the location or feasibility of potential sites for the 15,000m2 offset.  

 

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s Principles for the use of biodiversity offsets in NSWincludes the following principle: Offsets should minimise ecological risks from time-lags. The feasibility and in-principle agreements to the necessary offset actions should be demonstrated prior to the approval of the impact and that legal commitments to the offset actions should be entered into prior to the commencement of works under approval. 

 

The development should not be approved unless or until details of the location and feasibility of the proposed offset planting for prime koala habitat have been provided by the proponent and considered by the consent authority.

We also note that the drawings provided with the development application do not include provision for the koala exclusion fencing discussed in the EIS as being necessary to minimise the impact on koalas in prime koala habitat proposed to be cleared or immediately adjacent to the cleared areas. 

 

Plans for the development should map where this fencing will be located so it can be determined whether its construction and location will impact on the total area of native vegetation that needs to be cleared, and therefore whether it will impact on the calculation of native vegetation being cleared for purposes of the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold (see below).

We note that plans for the subdivision includes plans for the creation of a new lot 500 to contain the fire trail and residue land, and is intended to be subject to further investigation for possible development.  We note no details have been provided about this possible further development, other than the presence of a fire trail and retention basin.  

 

We also note that:

 

  • this lot contains land zoned C2 Environmental Conservation and land mapped as containing biodiversity values and Prime Koala Habitat (PKH); and
  • the proposed fire trail on this lot traverses an area presently zoned as C2 Environmental Conservation.

 Any plans to reduce or clear vegetation that is presently situation in C2 or PKH on this lot should be considered as part of this application, given it forms part of the proposed subdivision that is the subject of this application.  Alternatively, a prohibition on future clearing of this land should form part of any development consent should this application be approved.

 

Threatened species at risk of Serious and Irreversible Impacts 

 

The Boambee East Community Reserve Draft Plan of Management ‐ April 2016 (p.iv), includes the following reference to the management of the conservation area on the reserve, which will be impacted by clearing for the proposed access road to Bruce King Drive:

 

The conservation area is a diverse habitat which includes the creek lands of Cordwells Creek, rainforest, eucalypt and swamp land elements, and is home to a range of threatened animals including Koalas, Gliders and Microbats. The area also supports a population of the threatened grass species Floyd’s Grass (Alexfloydia repens). This grass only occurs within the Coffs Harbour region and is restricted to a limited number of sites within the region. Protecting and enhancing this species is a key outcome of the Plan.

 

The BDAR summary and other application documents claim that a significant risk is not posed by the development. 

 

However, on p.46 it notes there is potential for Serious and irreversible impacts (SAII) to occur to scented acronychia, the laced fritillary and the stuttering frog due to their listing under both the BC Act and the Commonwealth EPBC Act, to both the little and large bent-winged bat due to a potential breeding habitat feature being located within the development footprint, and Floyd’s grass due to its highly limited distribution and association with the threatened black grass-dart butterfly. There is also potential for SAIl to occur to the coastal petaltail and the eastern cave bat due to impacts expected to occur to suitable habitat for these species.

 

It also notes that, if impacts to species identified at risk of Serious and Irreversible Impact within the Biodiversity Development Assessment Report, are considered as likely to be significant by the Department of Planning and Environment, and if mitigation measures and offsets for removal of koala habitat are considered insufficient to reduce impacts on koala, referrals to the Commonwealth Minister will be required. 

 

We note that the EIS fails to address the species assessed by the BDAR as being at risk of Serious and Irreversible Impact and outline how this risk will be managed.

 

Endangered Ecological Communities and Overcleared Vegetation

 

On Coffs Harbour Fine‐Scale Vegetation Mapping, the area of native vegetation to be cleared for the access road includes an area mapped as containing the Overcleared Vegetation Type, Paperbark Swamp Forest, and is therefore also mapped as an area of the Endangered Ecological Community (EEC), Coastal Swamp Sclerophyll Forest.  However, the Biodiversity Development Assessment Report has identified the plant community in this area as predominantly Blackbutt – Turpentine open forest, which is not indicative of an EEC.  

 

The Coffs Harbour City Council’s Endangered Ecological Communities and Over-cleared Vegetation Types of the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area describes the science behind the mapping of high valued habitats and the biodiversity assets of the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area.  This states that four vegetation communities in the Coffs Harbour LGA require both floristic and soil information to verify their EEC status.  One of these vegetation communities is Coastal paperbark Swamp oak Floodplain Forest.

 

We note that the Biodiversity Development Assessment Report has identified the vegetation communities present in areas to be cleared for the development based on floristic information only.  As such, that assessment has not adequately confirmed that this area of land to be cleared is not an EEC or Overcleared vegetation type.

 

We note that E1.2(1) of the Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 requires compensatory planting for clearing of land identified as an EEC or Overcleared vegetation type at a replacement rate of 1:10.  As such, the development application should not be approved unless or until the proponent has demonstrated the lack of an EEC or Overcleared Vegetation type in the area to be cleared using soil information.

 

We note that E1.2(1) of the Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 requires compensatory planting for clearing of land where old growth native trees exist, defined as trees with a diameter of 100cm or more.  The planting replacement rate specified is 20 trees for each old growth tree removed.

 

Attachment 1 of the Biodiversity Development Assessment Report, the Koala Assessment includes at Table 1 the results of the SAT survey undertaken as part of the assessment.  This table indicates that one of the trees found during the survey, Tree 31, was a tallowwood with a diameter at breast height over bark of 125cm, which makes it an old growth native tree.  

 

Based on the GPS co-ordinate data provided in Table 1 for this tree, it is located in the area of native vegetation to be cleared.  As such, 20 new trees are required to be planted to offset the clearing of this tree.

 

We note that that neither the EIS nor the Biodiversity Assessment report provide the location of this tree on the maps of the proposed development nor do they make mention of the requirement for compensatory planting for old growth native trees. 

 

Missing information, documentation and plans

 

The Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 (E1.5(10)) notes that where development and/or subdivision proposals are likely to result in adverse impacts on high conservation value land that cannot be avoided, development applications are to be accompanied by a vegetation management plan.  However, it also notes that a preliminary vegetation management plan may accompany development applications where a detailed vegetation management plan is subsequently prepared and approved by Council in accordance with a condition of development consent.

 

We note that the development application does not contain either a complete or preliminary vegetation management plan.

 

The Coffs Harbour DCP 2015 (E1.5(11)), also requires development applications comprising compensatory planting or compensatory habitat resources to be accompanied by a plan clearly identifying the location of compensatory planting and resources.  As already discussed, the proposed location of compensatory planting in the development application is not feasible and resources for compensatory planting are not covered in the development application.

 

The Environmental Assessment Requirements Report (s 4.2.1) notes that construction of the access road and associated culvert may result in further fragmentation and degradation of the SEPP wetland by increasing the width of disturbance and facilitating further encroachment of exotic species into the area. An increase in impervious surfaces may increase stormwater runoff and the potential for associated pollutants to be discharged into the wetland. 

 

We note that neither the BDAR nor the EIS provide consider in sufficient detail the: 

 

  • the risk of pollutant discharge into the surrounding threatened ecosystems during construction, 
  • the likely impacts of such discharge, 
  • proposed strategies to mitigate these risks, or 
  • plans for minimising damage and remediation in the event that this occurs.

 The BDAR indicates that an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (ESCP) will be developed to manage sedimentation and runoff.  However, as an ESCP is only relevant for small sites, the size of the proposed development means a Soil and Water Management Plan (SWMP) is preferred (section 2-1, Soils and Construction Volume 1: Managing Urban Stormwater).

 

The Guidelines for Erosion & Sediment Control on Building Sites by the Department of Land and Water Conservation (p.7) note that Soil and Water Management Plans (SWMPs) identify soil and erosion controls (including whether a sediment retention basin is required) for “green field” or “urban renewal or infill” developments in excess of 2,500 square metres of actual developed area. 

 

Also, the Erosion and Sediment Control Requirements for subdivisions (Section C1.10) of the Coffs Harbour Development Plan 2015 include a requirement to provide a SWMP as part of the development application where the area of earthworks is greater than 2,500m2, which is the case for the proposed subdivision.

 

We note that no SWMP has been provided with the application.

 

We also note that the requirement under section 10(4) of State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018, which stipulates that a consent authority must not grant consent for development [for designated developments] unless the consent authority is satisfied that sufficient measures have been, or will be, taken to protect, and where possible enhance, the biophysical, hydrological and ecological integrity of the coastal wetland or littoral rainforest.

 

Given the absence of an SWMP, the consent authority cannot be satisfied that sufficient measures have been, or will be, taken to fulfil this requirement as part of the proposed development. 

 

Under section 191 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021, the environmental impact statement must comply with the environmental assessment requirements notified under section 176 or the Act, section 5.16(4). 

 

These requirements were notified by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment in a letter dated 2 September 2022 (Appendix 1, BDAR) and include a requirement that the description of the project in the EIS include, inter alia

 

  • all equipment proposed for use at the site; 
  • chemicals, including fuel, used on the site and proposed methods for the transportation, storage, use and emergency management; 
  • waste generation, storage and disposal; 
  • the anticipated environment impacts of the proposal, both direct and indirect, 
  • a plan showing the distribution of any threatened flora or fauna species and the vegetation communities on or adjacent to the subject site, and the extent of vegetation proposed to be cleared; 
  • ownership details of any residence and/or land likely to be affected by the proposal; and
  • maps/diagrams showing the location of residences and properties likely to be affected and other industrial developments, conservation areas, wetlands, etc. in the locality that may be affected by the proposal.  

Coverage of these areas within the EIS is either insufficient or non-existent as is coverage of several other requirements mentioned in the (Department of Environment and Planning’s Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs).  For example, no detail is provided about how stormwater inundation during construction activities (such as construction of the access road) will be prevented from entering surrounding ecologically sensitive and protected habitat.

 

We also note that the Declaration on EIS refers to a superseded version of Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation.  The current version of the Regulation is Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2021 which commenced on 1 March 2022.

 

Reliability of estimate for native vegetation to be cleared

 

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Biodiversity and Conservation) 2021 (Part 2.2, s2.6) prohibits:

 

  • the clearing of vegetation in a non-rural area of the State to which Part 2.3 applies without the authority conferred by a permit granted by the council under that Part; and
  • the clearing of native vegetation in a non-rural area of the State that exceeds the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold without the authority conferred by an approval granted by the Native Vegetation Panel under Part 2.4.

 The Department of Planning and Environment’s Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (p3 of its letter attached to the BDAR) indicates the EIS must demonstrate and document whether the proposed development exceeds the biodiversity offset scheme threshold.  

 

We note that the total proposed development site in 9.42 hectares (p6 of EIS) and the estimate provided of native vegetation to be impacted is 0.46 hectares (BDAR p.i). The BDAR does discuss how the extent of the ecological communities identified by surveys was arrived at.  However, it does not reveal how the calculation of native vegetation to be cleared was made.

 

The 0.46 hectare estimate is just under the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold: 0.5 hectares for total development size of less than 40 hectares, but not less than 1 hectare (Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2017, s7.2(1) and accompanying table).

 

We note that the area identified in the BDAR as native vegetation to be cleared does not appear to be sufficient to incorporate the width of the proposed access road to Bruce King Drive, including pavement (8m), verges (4m each side) and retaining batters (about 2m each side).  The proponent, during his short visit to the Community Centre to discuss the proposal, noted that the likely width of the proposed access road was 20m.

 

The Bushfire Assessment Report notes that, at the development assessment phase, development on land that is identified as being bushfire prone must comply with the requirements of the NSW Rural Fire Services’ Planning for Bush Fire Protection: A guide for councils, planners, fire authorities and developers, November 2019 (PBP-2019).  

 

Chapter 5 of PBP-2019 includes performance criteria and acceptable solutions for residential and rural-residential subdivisions in bushfire prone land. Table 5.3b in this chapter sets out the requirements for perimeter roads in a subdivision, including that a minimum vertical clearance of 4m to any overhanging obstructions, including tree branches, is provided. 

 

Also, we note that details of plans for the new lot 500 proposed for the subdivision are not provided.  It is noted that the proponent intents to lodge a further development application for this lot in the future.   We note that:

 

  • this lot contains land zoned C2 Environmental Conservation and land mapped as containing biodiversity values and Prime Koala Habitat, and
  • the proposed fire trail on this lot traverses an area presently zoned as C2 Environmental Conservation.

 With the exception of the proposed fire trail, it is not clear whether vegetation and habitat on this lot will be impacted by the proposed additional development application.  However, we note that none of this vegetation appears to have been considered as part of the calculation for purposes of the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold, even though the bushfire risk and recommendations for the development have been based on the assumption that this vegetation would be cleared.

 

We also note that Figure 8 of the BDAR which indicates that native vegetation which will be impacted by the development, does not appear to include the Blackbutt – Pink Bloodwood shrubby open forest of the coastal lowlands – native plant community identified along the south east boundary of the subdivision on Figure 7 of the BDAR.

 

Finally, we note that the drawings provided with the development application do not include provision for the koala exclusion fencing discussed in the EIS as being necessary to minimise the impact on koalas in prime koala habitat proposed to be cleared or immediately adjacent to the cleared areas. 

 

If sufficient allowance is made for the access road (20m) as well as for a 4m clearance of native vegetation around the proposed perimeter roads (which may or may not incorporate koala exclusion fencing), our preliminary calculations indicate that the area of native vegetation to be cleared is actually greater than the biodiversity offsets scheme threshold of 0.5 hectares that applies to this development.  

 

As such, we believe that approval of the Native Vegetation Panel under Part 2.4 is required for the clearing of native vegetation required for the proposed development.

 

Consultation with relevant parties

 

The letter from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, in relation to the Planning Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements notes that: “you should ensure your EIS is prepared in consultation with Coffs Harbour City Council and any other relevant local, State and Commonwealth government authorities, service providers, community groups and surrounding landowners, and address any issues they raise in the EIS”.

 

The Boambee East Community Centre was not consulted in relation to the EIS.  The only discussion with the proponent was in the context of a brief visit prior to the application being lodged, but less than 6 weeks before the EIS was finalised on 21 December 2022.  

 

The Centre has not received a letter from the proponent in relation to this development application, as claim in the EIS.  Only one brief meeting regarding the overall project took place with the proponent.

 

Our suggestion that we convene a community meeting with the proponent to allow our community to have its say during the exhibition period, was rejected by the proponent.

 

We note that section E1.1 of the Coffs Harbour Development Control Plan 2015 states: the removal of native plants from land identified as coastal wetlands or littoral rainforest on the Coastal Wetlands and Littoral Rainforests Area Map, as described by State Environment Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018, requires approval from Council and the concurrence of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

 

Dedication of existing land zone C2

 

We note that the proposed development includes Lot 2 DP852765 and Lot 17 DP861057 which total 28,664m2 and 55,918m2, respectively, in area.  The development plan proposes to include the majority of the western areas of these lots in the subdivision with the remainder to be dedicated to the council for use as a public reserve (designated as lot 501).

 

However, we note that the area of the proposed new lot 501 is already zoned as C2 – Environmental Conservation land in the Land Use table of Part 2 of the Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan 2013.  

 

As such, development that has the potential to generate a commercial gain for the owners, such as business premises, hotel or motel accommodation, industries, local distribution premises, multi dwelling housing, major recreation facilities, residential flat buildings, restricted premises, retail premises, seniors housing, service stations, and warehouse or distribution centres is prohibited on this land.

 

Dedicating this land to council, means the existing owners are simply transferring the burden of maintaining its environmental values to Coffs Harbour rate payers.

 

Providing additional housing

 

The EIS (p.4) claims that the proposal:

 

  • will help provide for additional housing at a time of a critical housing shortage, 
  • is worthy of support, 
  • provides for housing in an area with a limited supply of housing, and 
  • will help meet some of the demand for accommodation in a region facing a current housing supply crisis (p.48). 

 However, the original proposal discussed with council in 2020, and reflected in the present zoning of the land for the proposed subdivision as R3 – Medium Density Residential, which involves developing the land for a mix of apartments and townhouses, is much more likely to have an impact on housing shortages in the area.  We believe that access to such a site would remain an issue, however.

 

The Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan 2013 notes that the objectives of Zone R3 – Medium Density Residential are:

 

  • To provide for the housing needs of the community within a medium density residential environment.
  • To provide a variety of housing types within a medium density residential environment. 

We note that the Development Control Plan for the area (E2.2.2 of the Boambee Creek Development Plan 2013) prior to the present one had a target density for the subdivision area of 256 residences, compared with the 63 being proposed in the present development application.

 

We also note that R3 zoning for the area would result in a better match between potential residents of the new subdivision and the surrounding suburbs which have identified areas of socio-economic disadvantage.

 

The development application notes that options for more intensive development including apartment development have been considered but discounted based on the environmental constraints applying to the land and suitability with the surrounding area (p.4 EIS).

 

However, the application (including the EIS) does not provide details of the environmental constraints that prevent more intensive development (including apartment development), or why such constraints prevented more intensive development.

 

It is noted that the Council is presently preparing an Affordable Housing Strategy and Policy for the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area.  The council website notes that “City of Coffs Harbour recognises that a lack of affordable housing in the Coffs Harbour Local Government Area is a significant issue that is likely to have adverse, long term social and economic effects and therefore must be addressed.”  It is difficult to see how the proposed low-density development will help to address the lack of affordable housing.

 

Public transport links

 

The Traffic Impact Assessment notes that the town bus services to Bruce King Drive are limited to the Bruce King Drive – Linden Avenue intersection. It also states that town bus services are unlikely to extend into the proposed subdivision road network.  

 

However, the proposed subdivision would see an increase in the residences accessed from Bruce King Drive by about 70% and the introduction of bus routes along Bruce King Drive would enable those experiencing low socio-economic or other forms of disadvantage to access the many programs they may benefit from that are provided at the Boambee East Community Centre.

 

As such the proposed development should ensure that roads within the and accessing proposed development enable local buses to enter and safely negotiate the development and provide for the addition of at least one public bus shelter in the event that the local bus network is expanded.

 

Noise

 

We note that the proposed subdivision will be sited right next to the existing Pacific Highway, which has a speed limit of 100km/h (not 110km/h as claimed in the Traffic Noise Assessment) and is the main transport route for heavy vehicles transporting goods along the route from Brisbane to Sydney. 

 

The EIS notes that there may be limited occurrences where vibratory equipment is used to locally compact the road granular pavement layers or for service trenching. It also notes that larger vibrations are more likely to occur in areas of significant fill where vibratory equipment such as padfoot or smooth drum rollers are typically used to efficiently compact fill material to the required level of compaction. 

 

The concept engineering design shows that filling will occur closer to the centre and along the opposite end of the site towards Cordwells Creek. Neither the assessment of noise impacts nor the EIS provide details about the level, frequency and duration of noise that will impact existing local residents and other users of the community land. 

 

We note that the EIS does not consider the impact of construction noise and vibration upon threatened fauna around the proposed access road and on subdivision site, both of which abut threatened species habitat.

 

We also note that, due to “unacceptable visual intrusion” (EIS, p.23) the development application does not include plans for continuation of the acoustic separation barriers from highway noise, which are present from where the Pacific Highway crosses Boambee Creek south to the northern boundary of the proposed subdivision site. 

 

The EIS (p. 23) also states that noise mounds are impractical owing to the space required for an effective mound.

 

We note that, except for the cleared community use area on Lot 204, DP 828816, all of the other land that abuts the southbound lanes of the Pacific Highway from the Sawtell Road onramp to the Lyons Road offramp has noise control measures in place comprising either acoustic separation barriers or land mounds.

 

The application indicates that the subdivision will rely on the control of noise at receiving dwellings and requests that these controls form a condition of any consent issued with respect to Stage 2 for future dwellings on the land.

 

However, section 3.8.1 of the Development near Rail Corridors and Busy Roads – Interim Guideline notes that, when considering major renewal of areas, business parks or the subdivision of land located near busy roads or rail corridors, potential noise and vibration impacts should be considered at the master planning/concept planning stage [because] at this stage there is more opportunity to address noise and vibration through setbacks, building orientation, layout, building height controls or noise barriers. 

 

It also notes that, in some cases, it might be appropriate to design open spaces adjacent to the busy road/railway corridor to setback residential uses to reduce noise exposure and that these open space areas could also include appropriate bunding to buffer adverse noise impacts and provide for cycle or pedestrian paths along the road/railway line to improve accessibility. 

 

This guideline (s 3.8.6) also notes that an open or acoustically weak window will severely negate the effect of an acoustically strong façade.  As such, treating control noise via receiving dwelling building controls will mean that the occupants of those dwellings must rely on air conditioning in hot conditions to maintain adequate control of highway noise. 

 

We also note that: 

 

  • building code regulations discuss the need to rely on alternative ventilation measures for residences in the event that windows cannot be opened; 
  • the expense for residents and environmental footprint involved in controlling noise at individual residences by incorporating only noise mitigation materials is likely to be far higher than for the construction of an acoustic wall for the development; 
  • with the exception of residences in the 60km/h zone through Coffs Harbour, no residential lots in the Coffs Harbour LGA appear to have built houses as close to the Pacific Highway as those planned for this subdivision; and 
  • controlling noise at residences through additional building controls will have no impact on the external noise that reaches the outdoor area/yard of lots, particularly those close to the Pacific Highway. 

 The Traffic Noise Assessment assigns the category of noise control treatments each lot on the proposed development needs to control noise, using the guidance in Appendix C – Acoustic Treatment of Residences – of the Development near Rail Corridors and Busy Roads – Interim Guideline.  

 

However, we note that lots 61 to 63 have not been assigned a category in the report or the EIS, even though they are within 30m of the Pacific Highway, have a direct line of site to the Highway and have no barriers between them and the highway.

 

Also, it’s not clear why lots 1, 29, 30 have been assigned a lower category (4) than lots 64 to 66 (5) given that their proximity to the highway is the same.

 

Based on the information provided in the Traffic Noise Assessment, Station 1 is the equipment used to gather the data on which the findings of the report are based.  However, the site chosen for this station was at 645 Pacific Highway which does not form part of the proposed development site.

 

Appendix D – Acoustic Consultant Reports, Methodology for Testing and Compliance Reporting of the Development near Rail Corridors and Busy Roads – Interim Guideline outlines the matters to be included in an acoustic assessment with relevant matters reported in the assessment report to accompany the development application.  The following matters required in Appendix D are not included in the Traffic Noise Assessment provided with the development application:

 

  • Graphical presentation of monitored noise levels using 15-minute intervals and including the LAmax (or LA1), LAeq and LA90 noise parameters 
  • Methodology for determining existing noise levels at locations other than those monitored 

 This Appendix also recommends that:

 

  • at Construction Certificate stage, that there should be signoff to confirm that appropriate noise mitigation measures have been integrated into the development design, and
  • that there should be a sign-off at the Occupation Certificate stage to confirm that the building has been constructed in accordance with any acoustic conditions in the development consent and the conditions of development consent and that the post-construction noise measurements, where applicable, comply with the relevant criteria.

 The development application does not include mention of any plans to undertake these compliance measures.

 

Flood and bushfire risk

 

Floods

 

The Standard Instrument (Local Environmental Plans) Amendment (Flood Planning) Order 2021 under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 notes that: 

Development consent must not be granted to development on land the consent authority considers to be within the flood planning area unless the consent authority is satisfied the development— 

(a)  is compatible with the flood function and behaviour on the land, and 

(b)  will not adversely affect flood behaviour in a way that results in detrimental increases in the potential flood affectation of other development or properties, and 

 

We note that the Hydraulic Impact Assessment modelling does not include consideration of flood risk to the proposed access road from Bruce King Drive that traverses the Cordwells Creek Flood Plain.

 

The Engineering Assessment Report (5.1) notes that the proposed road from Bruce King Drive to the subject site intercepts existing minor overland flow paths within the western edge of 30 Bruce King Drive (Boambee East Community Centre).  As the proposed road is in fill, the minor upstream catchment will be conveyed across the road using suitably sized culverts and bypass runoff from the road itself and the associated bioretention basin. 

 

The Engineering Assessment Report (s9) also notes that the access road from Bruce King Drive will be raised to ensure it is at R.L. 3.3m Australian Height Datum (AHD) for a 1% Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) event.  Given the Hydraulic Impact Assessment does not appear to consider flood impacts for the access road, it is not clear what data was used to justify the R.L. of 3.3m (AHD).

 

This also means that the development application has not considered: 

 

  • whether extending the existing culvert under the highway to under the proposed access road from Bruce King Drive will have any impact on flood risk for the community land used by community members, the Boambee East Community Centre and the Community Garden; or 
  • the potential impact of the access road on the flooding risk for the community centre or the community garden.

 

This is despite Department of Planning and Environment SEAR requirements which require the EIS to include assessment of whether the proposed development will significantly adversely affect flood behaviour resulting in detrimental increases in the potential flood affectation of other development or properties. 

 

Section 4.3 of the EIS notes that during consultations with council about the proposed development, the council noted that ideally any bio detention system should be outside the flood affected areas.  

 

The proposed large bio retention basin is supposed to prevent polluted runoff from the subdivision (excluding the access road from Bruce King Drive) from entering adjacent environmentally sensitive land and catchment below the development.  Based on the flood modelling provided in the plan, this bio retention basin will be located within a zone that will experience up to 50cm of flooding in a 1 in 100 flood event.  The modelling also indicates that the level of a likely flood is likely to increase in future due to higher impact rain events that are expected as a result of climate change.

 

It is also not clear whether the proponent has sought or obtained consent from Transport NSW to undertake the work that will be needed to extend the culvert from its present termination point on the western side of the Pacific Highway. 

 

The Coffs Harbour City Council, Boambee Newports Creek Floodplain Risk Management

Study, 12 July 2016 notes that the model outcomes for some reaches were found to be more sensitive, such as in the upper reaches of Cordwells Creek (upstream of Bruce King Drive).

 

The Hydraulic Assessment has used Manning values to represent the sensitivity of the model outcomes.  However, there is no recognition of the higher sensitivity noted for the area, as noted in the in the Boambee Newports Creek Floodplain Risk Management Study.  Given this and the fact that a truncated model has been used, it is unclear whether the outcomes of the assessment are reliable.

 

Given the area close to the community gardens and community centre has flooded only last year, and the uncertainty raised above, it is likely that the development and associated access road from Bruce King Drive could increase the likelihood of flooding for the Centre, the Garden and existing residents who border Cordwell’s Creek. 

 

Bushfire

 

We note that the proposed development footprint will incorporate bushfire prone land.  Given that there will be only one road into/out of the development, and this road will abut existing native vegetation for part of its length, it is not clear how residents will escape if a bushfire threatens properties within the proposed development.

 

We note that a fire trail has been incorporated into the development drawings.  However, this leads directly to the Pacific Highway from the development and the application indicates that this would be for the use of emergency personnel only. 

 

Also, this trail is identified in the development application as being located on lot 500, which is intended to be subject to further investigation for possible development as part of Stage 3.  We note no details have been provided about this possible further development.  As such, it is not clear when the development of this fire trail will be completed.

 

As the proposed subdivision land is mapped as being fire prone, under Section 100B of the Rural Fires Act 1997 a person must obtain a bush fire safety authority before developing bush fire prone land for a subdivision of bush fire prone land that could lawfully be used for residential or rural residential purpose.  

 

Coffs Harbour City Council Development Specification Design 0013 Bushfire protection, 2009 states that designs shall be carried out to satisfy requirements of the NSW Rural Fires Act 1997, Council and any guidelines published by the State’s Rural Fire Service or equivalent.

 

The Department of Planning and Environment, in its letter of 2 September 2022, directed the proponent to undertake direct consultation with the NSW Rural Fire Service and address their requirements in the EIS. 

 

The EIS does not discuss whether this consultation has taken place, any outcomes or include discussion of any requirements.

 

The Bushfire Assessment Report included with the application appears to consider a development that differs from the one proposed in the development application as evidenced by the following information:

 

  • this Report is an assessment of a residential subdivision to create 66 lots: fifty-five lots are proposed to be Torrens title lots, and eleven lots along the northern boundary of the site are proposed to be community title lots; and
  • along the northern boundary of the site is a dam surrounded by predominantly Melaleuca. These Melaleuca will be required to be removed as part of this development proposal, to accommodate the Community Title lots.

 We note that the number and type of lots described Bushfire Assessment Report differs from the proposed application which specifies 63 Torrens title lots and 7 community title lots.

 

The Bushfire Assessment Report has not considered bushfire risk and mitigation associated with the retaining of prime koala habitat within the site around the dam because the report is based on the assumption that this vegetation will be removed.  However, elsewhere in the application it is noted that, due to its value at prime koala habitat, this vegetation will be retained. 

 

As such, a number of properties within the development, including the existing property to be maintained, may be exposed to a higher risk of bushfire, and a move to a higher Bushfire Attack Level classification than assigned in this report.

 

The Bushfire Assessment Report notes that Bushfire protection can be achieved through a combination of strategies based on principles that include maintenance of Asset Protection Zones (APZs).  It recommends minimum setbacks in the form of APZs for the subdivision of 20m to the north, 25m to the east and 31m to the south. 

 

We note that the APZs proposed in Drawing DA03 as part of the development application do not satisfy the requirements for APZs outlined in the Bushfire Assessment Report.  In particular, the proposed APZ to the east of the development is significantly less than 25m and only extends 9m.

 

The proposed development should not be approved unless it includes APZs as recommended and it has obtained a bushfire safety authority from the NSW Rural Fire Service.

 

Sewerage

 

The development application indicates that sewerage from the proposed subdivision will be pumped via a new sewer rising main within the verge of the new access road to a new discharge manhole on the northern side of Bruce King Drive and that a gravity sewer main will cross under Bruce King Drive and connect into the existing 225mm gravity sewer (6.1, Engineering Assessment Report). 

 

We note that this is inconsistent with a recent Development Control Plan for the Boambee Creek (prior to the existing plan Coffs Harbour Development Plan).

 

The previous Boambee Creek DCP (E2.2.2(h) Sewerage Reticulation) noted that the existing carrier system requires upgrading in a number of sections leading to the Sawtell Treatment Works and that a contribution charge will apply.

 

Presumably this change is due to the cost to the developer of upgrading the existing carrier system as the DCP notes is necessary. 

 

However, connecting sewerage from the proposed development to and across Bruce King Drive will: 

 

  • impact on the depth of excavation required along the access road (and thus is likely to increase the impact on sensitive native vegetation and species that inhabit the area that the road will traverse);  
  • require works to Bruce King Drive which will impact on local residents in terms of access and noise; and
  • increase the likelihood of potholes forming on Bruce King Drive in the vicinity of the excavated area, during and after significant rain events, such as those experienced in early 2022. 

 To ensure that legislative requirements to minimise impacts on threatened species and habitats are met, the development application should not be approved unless sewerage from any development in this subdivision follows the original route proposed in Map 6 of the Boambee Creek Development Control Plan 2013.

 

Acid Sulfate Soils

 

We note that the development application only contains a preliminary Acid Sulfate Soils (ASS) Assessment.  

 

The EIS (p.19) states that preliminary advice from the test results suggests that acid sulfate soils can be adequately managed and do not present a significant risk to the development.  However, no such statement appears in the ASS Assessment.

 

The ASS Assessment notes that although the site is located within an area that is not mapped as containing acid sulfate soils, acid sulfate soils are mapped along the northern and eastern site boundaries. 

 

However, we note that the Acid Sulfate Soils Map-Sheet AAS 006B from the Coffs Harbour Local Environmental Plan 2013 shows that both class 3 and class 4 ASS areas a mapped along the proposed access road to Bruce King Drive.

 

The ASS assessment notes that a review of the ASS field screen tests indicates that several samples returned results that are only slightly above the preliminary levels that are generally adopted as indicators of either actual or potential ASS. Detailed net acidity testing has therefore been scheduled on five samples and test results are anticipated in early 2023. 

 

We note that the discussion of the results of ASS screening tests in section 3.2 of the report is incomplete.

 

Results of an assessment of ASS is required to be included in the EIS (Department of Planning and Environment SEARs, p.2).

 

Under s7.1(3) of the Coffs Harbour Local Environment Plan 2013, development consent must not be granted under this clause for the carrying out of works unless an acid sulfate soils management plan has been prepared for the proposed works in accordance with the Acid Sulfate Soils Manual and has been provided to the consent authority.