I AM writing in regard to Heritage Estates and the current offer of $5000 for landowners. There are many with a vested interest in the estate, including federal and state governments, Shoalhaven City Council, the National Parks and Wildlife Service, local citizens and the landowners.
Over many years, each stakeholder has fought for their interest, with the balance of power and the resulting decisions shifting from one party to another depending upon whatever factors were prevailing at the time. Thus the land has moved through different phases from zoned rural, to the commencement of rezoning for building, to proposed zoning for environmental conservation. This suggests that there is no clear right or wrong way to proceed or the matter would have been resolved many years ago.
With the current arrangement to rezone to E2, all levels of government, the NPWS and the local citizens have their needs met but unfortunately the landowners do not ($5000 does not compensate for their losses). The landowners are now forced to bring accountability for this through the legal system and once again more to’ing and fro’ing occurs with further lack of resolution. The situation has become increasing complicated as each new layer is added but perhaps there is another approach.
Consider the possibility of an eco-developer purchasing the land. A similar model to the Currumbin Valley eco-development in Queensland could be achieved resulting in a better, fairer outcome for all parties. Since eco-development involves low density strategic planning and placement of dwellings with an emphasis on extensive natural spaces, it moves away from the large scale dense urban development opposed by the NPWS and the locals. Eco-development cleverly identifies and enhances natural features of the land, thus natural habitats for endangered species and wildlife corridors could be designed into the plan, maintaining conservation aspects of the land with housing sporadically placed thus allowing both people and wildlife to coexist and enjoy the space, meeting both the NPWS, locals and new purchaser’s needs.
It is clear that the NPWS does not have the money to provide fair compensation, however enough money would be raised from this project to provide fair and equal compensation to all landowners (i.e. recoup their losses including initial cost of land, bank interest, rates payments, etc). Developers contribute with the purchase of the land and the NPWS contribute for ownership of natural corridors on the land adjacent to the existing park boundary. This seems like a win-win for all parties, which may provide a final and just resolution for the area.
Developers win with the sale of finished homes. Shoalhaven Council and federal and state governments can be proud of their showpiece development (Currumbin has won many awards internationally) while also achieving environmental brownie points and being congratulated on the resolution of this matter satisfactorily for all stakeholders. National Parks succeeds in gaining wildlife corridors and protection of native endangered species. Local citizens are provided with a beautiful natural space to explore and enjoy. Landowners are fairly compensated.
If all parties can come to a mature and equitable agreement, the necessary zoning for this semi-rural eco-development can then be sought. It may be pertinent to consider this as a means of once and for all resolving the Heritage Estates dilemma and creating a beautiful space for all to enjoy, finally worthy of its name.