Planning the future of North Arm Cove non-urban land


bobreidTuesday, 22 September 2020 - 9:44am

MidCoast Council is currently working on a project to develop a clear, consistent, region-wide planning framework. This project is called "Zoning in on our future", and it started in early 2020.

This needs to be done since the amalgamation of the three Councils (Great Lakes, Greater Taree and Gloucester) in 2016 to form MidCoast Council left Council with three different planning frameworks.

Once in place, the new planning framework will guide the way Council manages land use across the entire region, catering for the needs of current communities and helping to shape future communities.

Part of this process is to prepare a Rural Strategy that covers all of the existing rural, environmental and waterway zones. A draft strategy is currently in preparation and is likely to be available for community consultation later this year. After considering community feedback, Council is aiming to have this strategy finalised in early 2021 which will be followed by a new Local Environmental Plan with revised zoning provisions in 2022.

The non-urban land surrounding North Arm Cove is currently zoned Rural (or RU2) so it is included in the Rural Strategy.

One of our residents has been recently having discussions and corresponding with Council on aspects of the new planning framework and development of the non-urban land in North Arm Cove.

As part of the correspondence, Council’s Director of Living Communities, Mr Paul De Szell, provided the resident with an emailed response about development of the North Arm Cove non-urban area. Mr De Szell has given approval for his response to be published on our website so that the community is aware of Council’s current thinking on development of the non-urban land.

Mr De Szell’s emailed response is reproduced below:

Thank you for contacting Council to discuss North Arm Cove and the long-standing paper subdivision issue within this location.

As you would be aware Council is in the process of finalising the Rural Strategy that will include recommendations about historic subdivisions and aims to provide certainty on the future of these areas, as requested by the community and Council.

Council’s review to date has found that many of the lands within paper subdivisions across the MidCoast are not only constrained by a lack of services and infrastructure, but heavily vegetated; and the case of North Arm Cove and surrounds, located in a sensitive coastal environment.

These factors indicate that despite the ambitions of the past, the future of these locations is one of environmental conservation and protection.

Regarding land in paper subdivisions that is transferred to Council in lieu of rates - given the status of the land and constraints documented above, our position is to rezone these lands to the most appropriate environmental or recreation zone, dependent upon the sensitivity of the site and potential public purpose.

Evidence of this is provided in North Pindimar, where several allotments were transferred to Council prior to Great Lakes LEP 2014 being made; and due to their environmentally sensitive location, these allotments were rezoned to E2 Environmental Conservation. These rezoning programs would normally continue through a series of housekeeping amendments to our LEPs, but this has been integrated into our priority strategic work program since amalgamation.

This was demonstrated during the recent Zoning In consultation in Feb-April 2020, when the draft land use zoning maps documented that public land in towns and villages across the MidCoast that is subject to environmental constraints, was been identified for rezoning from an urban/development zone to an environmental conservation or protection zone. These changes will be continued through the draft mapping program for the Rural Strategy.

Council as a public agency is committed to evidence-based land use planning. In doing so we consider not only the financial implications of rezoning land, but the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental outcomes that contribute to the future of the MidCoast, and in doing so, look to achieve outcomes consistent with the vision and values documented within our Community Strategic Plan.

In this particular instance that means that the future of non-urban land in North Arm Cove is one of environmental conservation and protection and not residential development.

I met with Mr De Szell last week to discuss this response and other North Arm Cove related issues. In our discussion Mr De Szell confirmed that Rural is not the right zoning for the non-urban land, and that an environmental zone was appropriate.

I hope by publishing Mr De Szell's response that members of our community, from both the Village and non-urban landowners, will have a better understanding of Council's thinking on the future of the non-urban land.


Thank you Bob.

It is a great news that Council is finally looking into rezoning for non-urban land.

Even better news that Council will finally adopt merit based principles in making decisions - evidence based land planning and triple bottom line measurement of outcomes.

In that light it is a bit irresponsible from Mr DeSzell to provide conclusions before evidence is available. You would agree that it doesn't make much sense using anecdotal "evidence" from North Pindimar and relate it to North Arm Cove.

In any case, I am quite excited, as I am sure most of NAC community is, to hear that North Arm Cove would finally have opportunity to realize century old dreams of Walter and Marion. There is no doubt that all three bottom lines will point to developing NAC as a prosperous sustainable, resilient, livable  community with residents of all ages.

BTW did you know that, according to Council's papers, "Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest and Tuncurry are ranked as the two oldest statistical areas in Australia with a median age of 61.6 and 60.7 respectively"? And "The suburb of ‘Bushland’ in Taree is the tenth most disadvantaged statistical area in NSW"? And "18-24 year olds are leaving the area. Most move to Newcastle or Armidale for education and work"? How successful is that Director of "Livable communities", hey?

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