Stalemate prevents family from building in Woollamia

Tanya and Ryan's daughter, Eliza. The family hopes to build a life in the Shoalhaven.

Tanya and Ryan's daughter, Eliza. The family hopes to build a life in the Shoalhaven.

A young family that bought a property in Woollamia a year and a half ago is still waiting for their plans to be approved by Shoalhaven City Council.

Ryan and Tanya Adams are paying rent and a mortgage and working two and a half hours away from one another.

With a baby to care for, and a baby on the way, all they want is to start building on their property.

It took them a year to prepare the development application –  they hired a surveyor, a bush fire specialist and an architect and commissioned a geological study in the hope it would be approved without too much fuss.

Street view of the property on Seasongood Road, Woollamia. Picture: Google Maps

Street view of the property on Seasongood Road, Woollamia. Picture: Google Maps

They lodged the application in January, and have come to a stalemate with council.

So, what’s the problem?

“That’s the million dollar question,” Ryan said.

“The issue is, council says we have a creek, but we know that is absolute rubbish.”

Ryan has hired a hydrologist, who reported that much of the land defined as a creek is an overland flow. 

But council maintains it’s a creek, and has drawn a 30m buffer zone around it, drastically reducing the space the Adams have to build on.

“Our house is 30m deep, we have been given 17m to work with,” Ryan said.

They have three options – accept council’s restrictions, hope Shoalhaven Councillors advocate for a review, or take council to court which could cost between $20,000-$100,000.

Ryan works in Sydney, and wants to start up a small business in the Shoalhaven.

“I’m an electrician and a heavy diesel mechanic, I can open a business and start employing people down there,” he said.

“We’re a growing family, we have heaps to bring to the area.”

A council spokesperson said they’ve worked hard to find a solution for Ryan and Tanya.

“The owner of the property has purchased a highly constrained site,” they said.

“The site contains threatened species and has limited development capacity.

“There is also a category two watercourse on the site which limits development and this has been confirmed by the NSW Office of Water.

“Council is required under State legislation to ensure that this watercourse is protected.

“Council has granted the owner a deferred commencement approval which allows for a substantial building envelope on the site including the ability to develop a house and associated structures.”

“The consent ensures that the site can be developed whilst also limiting the impact on the watercourse, the riparian zone and enables environmental impacts of development to be managed.

“Council has worked extremely hard to find suitable solutions for the property owner including the implementation of a concession to enable the owners asset protection zone to encroach into the riparian zone.

“The owner is now seeking further exemptions that simply cannot be granted.”

Tanya and Ryan reached out to the South Coast Register to tell their story when they heard other residents were frustrated by council’s DA backlog.

Related coverage:

Residents’ fury at council’s DA backlog

Shoalhaven Councillor: DA backlog will only get worse

DA delays overshadow region’s progress