Shape Shifting Shaolin
The shape of the Shaolin Temple Foundation’s latest shot at development on Comberton Grange is revealed in their recent request to the NSW Department of Environment and Planning for modifications to the existing conditions of approval.
The current approval was granted by a government appointed Planning and Assessment Panel in September 2014 and will lapse on September 5, 2019 “unless the project is physically commenced on or before that day”.
In a case of get cracking or go back to square one, Shaolin’s new ground zero approach has abandoned the centrepiece on which the developments approval was said to rest. The project will not now include a replica Shaolin Temple.
Contrary to earlier claims, the Foundation describe themselves as an organisation dependent on donations.
Presumably as an economy measure, and with time passing, Shaolin now propose a modest Stage One foot in the door with the construction of a Zen Meditation Centre and accommodation for ten to sixteen monks. Stages Two and Three are expected to take another 10 to 15 years.
Ownership of the site was assigned to the Shaolin Temple Foundation (Aust) Ltd in June, 2006.
What Shaolin now want is a staged, piecemeal process in which consequential decisions are delayed and a timespan of over a quarter of a century, from beginning to putative end, is deemed to be acceptable.
Already there has been a lengthy and costly passing parade of public servants and politicians engaged with the Shaolin project. And, already, some memories have faded.
In his retirement political memoir The Fog on the Hill, Frank Sartor, the first Planning Minister to whom the plan was presented, and not a fan, recalls it as not having gone ahead.
So, in the next 15 years, the question is, What could possibly go wrong? And, the most credible answer is – probably everything.
For a time, the public interest was protected by Council’s contractual right to buy back the property should circumstances, very like now, arise. In 2015, following final payment and in the face of Shaolin and its local government supporters objections to the PAC decisions, the Shoalhaven’s safety net was removed by resolution of then Mayor, Joanna Gash, and a majority of Council. The present Mayor, Amanda Findley, and Councillor Andrew Guile were the only objectors to the buy-back abandonment.
In 2015, land with an equivalence to Comberton Grange in environmental constraints, and also facing Currambene Creek, was assessed as being worth, on average, $30,500 per hectare. Shoalhaven City Council sold 1,248 hectares to Shaolin for $5 million. Now do the math.
J. Gjedsted, Vincentia
We would like to congratulate Council on commonsense decision to keep the pool open.
Also the great crowd who turned up to support keeping the pool open.
We are also grateful for the united support from Shelley Hancock and Gareth Ward and councillors who were with the people.
To the young swimmers from the Swimming Club who spoke on behalf of their mates, they should be proud of themselves.
The Friday after the meeting both the pools had carnivals - the parking had to be seen to be believed.
At the Nowra Pool, cars were parked as far away as the Entertainment Centre.
Bomaderry complex full - the Shoalhaven is a tourist town.
With the forecast over the next 20 years of 2250 houses out to Cambewarra village, the council should be congratulated for making the right decision.
In the end, the question is not simply whether the community can afford this, but what it can do for the community.