Port Macquarie-Hastings Council loses Land and Environment Court battle over Ascot Park Estate development

DA goes ahead: A Land and Environment Court decision to grant a DA for a multi-dwelling development in the Ascot Park Estate has upset neighbours of the proposal.
DA goes ahead: A Land and Environment Court decision to grant a DA for a multi-dwelling development in the Ascot Park Estate has upset neighbours of the proposal.

The Land and Environment Court has upheld an appeal by Land Dynamics to grant a development application for the construction of a six dwelling development in the Ascot Park Estate.

The Port Macquarie-based land and property development consultancy practice took Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to court over the matter.

Council had refused the DA for the proposed development on Philip Charley Drive.

The DA covers the construction of new multi-dwelling housing, comprising six dwellings, community title and Torrens subdivision, along with earthworks and tree removal.

The land was identified as core koala habitat.

In his conclusion, Commissioner Michael Chilcott said the design of the proposed development is compliant with the requirements to potential bushfire risk, and is consistent with the provisions of the potential impacts on koala habitat.

Council director Melissa Watkins says a review of the Koala Plan of Management is not proposed "at this point in time".

"The Koala Plan of Management (KPoM) was approved by council and the department of planning and environment under state environmental planning policy 44 – Koala Habitat Protection," Ms Watkins said.

"The KPoM specifically relates to the Ascot Park subdivision. 

Green light: A Land and Environment Court decision will see a multi-dwelling development in the Ascot Park Estate.

Green light: A Land and Environment Court decision will see a multi-dwelling development in the Ascot Park Estate.

"The court case related to the interpretation of the KPoM provisions and how they apply to development applications. 

"Amending or rescinding the KPoM would require approval by council and the department in consultation with the landowner.

"As this point in time a review of the KPoM is not proposed."

Ms Watkins said the court case clarifies how to apply the provisions of the KPoM so it will be used in guiding the assessment of any future development applications in the estate.

"Koalas are an iconic native species to the Port-Macquarie-Hastings. 

"Managing development so as not to adversely affect the koala population continues to be a key focus of council’s planning. 

"Council is currently preparing a Koala Strategy and Coastal KPoM to provide greater protection for koalas and their habitat."

But an Ascot Park Estate resident and neighbour to the development is not happy.

Kim Osborn says the outcome is very disheartening.

The experience we were sold is very different from reality.

Kim Osborn

"We have never built before and the experience we were sold is very different from reality," she said.

"We purchased the land when the estate was still dirt roads. 

"One of the developers outlined to us what was going to happen within the estate, which included plenty of tree-studded blocks.

"My husband and I decided on this block because we were told the neighbouring land would be left as a koala breezeway and would never be touched (built on).

"I can guarantee that we would never have purchased our block if we knew this (development) was going to happen.

"As a neighbourhood, a few of us have been to council trying to stop this."

Ms Osborn said one saving grace was the inclusion of a 20 metre barrier of koala feed trees between their home and the proposed development.

"Every drawing and every photo I've seen has also shown the block as vacant land and full of trees," she added.

Ms Osborn said the development was changing the aspect of what the estate originally looked like.

The Port Macquarie News contacted Land Dynamics for comment.

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