The frustration is palpable among a small group of Bangalee landowners who have been in limbo, unable to build on blocks they bought up to two and a half years ago.
Environmental laws changed between the time they bought land, worth about $450,000 per block, and the time they submitted development applications – they now have to stump up an extra $50,000 for bushfire and biodiversity studies.
All we want to do is ease the stress on themShoalhaven Councillor John Wells
On Wednesday afternoon, relevant Shoalhaven City Council staff met with about 15 affected landowners, in an attempt to brainstorm a solution.
In February 2016, council approved the Woodridge Estate in Bangalee for development. The developer then sold off large blocks of land. At the time of each sale, the contract between the developer and landowners stated residents were able to lodge development applications without having to carry out further environmental studies.
While this was true at the time, state government regulations were introduced in August 2017, to be implemented retrospectively.
Now, landholders looking to build have been asked to conduct two additional studies, and submit the findings in their development applications.
Shoalhaven Councillor John Wells chaired the meeting with Deputy Mayor Patricia White on Wednesday.
“We’re doing all we can to help affected residents and they’re very grateful we’re doing this for them,” Cr Wells said.
“All we want to do is ease the stress on them.
“They’re naturally frustrated, but they can see council staff are working actively on their case.”
Council staff will read all the reports and investigations relating to the subdivision and talk with the developer to identify if any vegetation or habitat management plans were proposed or intended to apply to the area.
Cr Wells said staff will also be in close contact with Office of Environment and Heritage staff to plead the residents’ cases and work on an affordable solution.
“They are doing their best to get answers out of the state government,” Cr Wells said.
“It was the government that introduced the law, we want to understand if there’s any latitude, any flexibility in the law.
“We don't know where the helicopter’s going to land.”
Cr Wells said he would meet with Kiama MP Gareth Ward to push for a fair solution on Friday.