WE are putting questions on the big issues to candidates running in the Port Macquarie-Hastings council election.
These are based on issues our readers have voted as being of most importance to our community.
We asked: What is your position on development, particularly along our coastline, and the planning of new residential estates?
Here are their responses in the order groups/candidates appear on the ballot paper:
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GROUP A - Fighters for Our Region: Lisa Intemann, Kingsley Searle, Stewart Cooper, Narelle Milligan, Paul Bradford
The big news for our coastline right now is this week's refusal, by the Northern Regional Planning Panel, of the controversial 10-16 Pacific Drive development proposal which featured in national media recently.
10-16 Pacific Drive was the first proposal under council's increased height limits along Pacific Drive.
With 11 other residents, our mayoral candidate, Lisa Intemann, addressed the Panel in opposition.
To their delight, eight strong reasons were given for refusal, including the need for new buildings to respect the existing character of the area.
The refusal signals a problem with the heights, and once elected Team Intemann commits to work with residents to have them lowered by council.
Our area is growing rapidly. There are many already approved developments we can do nothing to change at this stage.
We commit to ensure that future development does respect existing local character, not only along the coast but in all our developments.
Our mayoral candidate, Lisa Intemann, has already worked to get 'character statements' into council's draft Local Housing Policy, by which to ensure that existing local character can be protected.
We will work with the other councillors to ensure that future development is located and then assessed on strong social and environmental criteria, so new growth does not over-run our delightful lifestyle and phenomenal natural environment - which every resident loves about our region.
Yes, we need jobs and business. But unchecked population growth is not the answer. Council must take a strong lead in sustainable planning, considering community needs, addressing housing affordability, and ensuring necessary infrastructure is in place before development is undertaken.
New development must be properly serviced.
Our 'Infrastructure Delivery' policy outlines our plan for catching up on the infrastructure backlog and ensuring suitable infrastructure is in place ahead of developments.
GROUP B - Hastings First: Nik James Lipovac, Kerry Fox, Linda Lenord, Michael Clarke and Justin Hardie
This is certainly a hot topic at the moment. Short and long term planning is vital for our vibrant community.
Firstly, let's stop the "closed door" decision making relating to development. Transparency and communication with the community is paramount.
We should be aiming for sustainable development, maintaining amenity and quality of life and the protection of the natural environment.
Balance is important when it comes to our future development needs or new residential areas across the Hastings.
We must continue to provide green open spaces and also safe guard the natural habitat for our wildlife.
The community has also spoken loud and clear that the coastline must not be overrun by significant or large developments. We must not become another Gold Coast. Our elected representatives will work together with fellow councillors and council staff on short and long term planning that is sympathetic to our LGA.
Let's look at and review our Community Plans - Towards 2030 and the Think 2050 Planning Strategy - in addition to the urban growth, housing and economic development strategies.
This is how we can best assess the planning and development of new residential estates on the coast and across our hinterland.
GROUP C - The Greens:Lauren Edwards, Stuart Watson, Drusi Megget and Les Mitchell
Again we can point out that the Greens candidates for council have worked over the past three years on the council's sustainability working group.
To this end we will continue to advocate that all council decisions are framed under the recently drafted sustainability and climate change policies. This will ensure that public infrastructure is built to support the growth. There is always a conflict between unsustainable growth and the environment of our LGA so we would aim to constrain growth to sensible levels and protect our environment for future generations.
We particularly need to respect the coastal environment and ensure that new residential estates are planned with foresight. This foresight includes good road transport , water and sewage infrastructure and sustainable building designs, all of these have been inadequate in some developments recently. Improvements in building and residential estate design such as the recent outlawing of black roofs and the planning of adequate green space and trees are well overdue.
Sensible growth with a limit based on the finite resources of our natural environment is the key to an enjoyable and liveable future for our community.
Development of coastlines and the need for new housing estates are not unique to the Port Macquarie-Hastings region.
Coastal towns across Australia are experiencing growth in these areas and as much as some residents don't want to see coastal development, developers can bypass council if needed to push a development through.
Where council can ensure sensible and cohesive development outcomes is to review its Urban Growth Management Strategy, Development Control Plans and Local Environmental Plans.
In turn, ensure that land parcels are more appropriately zoned and better fit with a broader approach to balancing housing density and visual appeal. Simply trying to block development will not work.
We can negotiate better outcomes with land owners if we have a tangible regional plan that we can all work towards.
Construction is one of the major industries and future jobs growth sector in our local government area. This sector employs thousands of trades people and associated suppliers and small businesses.
Team Pinson has no desire to artificially slow down economic growth and activity and is very supportive of continued, stable and sensible housing development. Team Pinson knows that artificially slowing down land releases limits competition on land sales for new family homes and in turn pushes up house prices which contributes to affordable housing issues.
Further, Team Pinson will do whatever we can to fast-track new housing estates to help promote more affordable housing and to help fund new infrastructure.
By utilising some of the $340 million dollars of ratepayer funds stashed in the council bank accounts, we will invest those funds into supporting the continued growth with water, sewer and road network infrastructure.
GROUP E - Team Sheppard: Rachel Sheppard, Greg Freeman, Linda Elbourne, Ethan Francis
Sustainable land development is a keystone policy for Team Sheppard.
We are very concerned about the recent development approach of clear-felling swathes of released land, without proper consideration to long-term environmental costs, infrastructure needs (roads/sewerage/water/stormwater), and existing local character.
We are concerned that this type of development will continue under the leadership of the current mayor, who has made 'reducing...green tape' a campaign commitment, and whose plan to freeze rates would freeze infrastructure delivery.
Rachel Sheppard and Group E councillor candidates will drive for sustainable land development that is consistent with existing neighbourhood character, compatible with meeting the housing, employment needs of current generations, while protecting the environment and opportunities for future generations.
Sustainable land development for the Port Macquarie-Hastings must include:
1. Council setting the agenda for developers. Council must set a clear agenda of socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development.
2. Well-planned urban consolidation. Intelligent, sustainable urban consolidation properly balances infrastructure considerations and existing neighbourhood character with the need to provide affordable housing for future generations. This includes in-fill development, as well has re-developing appropriate areas into higher density housing.
3. Best practice sustainable subdivisions. When land releases are deemed necessary, subdivisions must be 'sustainable'. This is an opportunity for local developers to adjust their business models to apply the readily available sustainable, net-zero and climate-safe designs for the houses of future generations.
4. Ensuring that council's newly adopted sustainability strategy (economic, environmental and social sustainability) is applied appropriately to development decisions.
5. Excellent town planning to ensure adequate infrastructure, and a genuine balance between social, environmental and economic impacts.
Rachel Sheppard for mayor and Group E councillor candidates are very proud to be campaigning for positive action and cohesive strategy for our whole community.
Coastal development like all development needs to be considered with the environment around it.
In our particular local government area I think we need to leave the coast line alone now and concentrate on getting our infrastructure up to speed with our population growth.
Obviously we will continue to grow as a region, but at what cost to our lifestyle?
People move here for exactly that, so we as a community need to decide what we will look like in the next 30 to 50 years.