Ross Kennedy with (back from left) Ruby Meiers, Kylie Hancox, Julie-Anne Carruthers, (front from left) Scarlett Hancox, Zoie Carruthers, Caitlyn Carruthers, Lucas Hancox and Riley Meiers. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
When Ross Kennedy forked out more than $1 million for a prime piece of beachfront land in Woonona, he had no idea his Beach Drive address would soon be deemed under threat from rising sea levels.
His property is one of 19 homes on the coveted street that have been slapped with a section 149 coastal hazard notation, marking them as being potentially affected by predicted sea level rises.
Now, Mr Kennedy and his angry neighbours are taking on Wollongong City Council in a desperate bid to have the notations removed.
He claims the notices, placed on 3000 properties region-wide by the council in 2010, have tarnished their properties, making them unsellable, uninsurable and creating serious hitches with development.
"I've seen my neighbours suffering," he said.
"They are desperate to leave a legacy for their kids and they're watching their property values go down the drain because of one little piece of paper; it's just stripped houses of their values.
"These people bought these homes for their retirement and now some of them can't even get insurance, [some companies] just refuse to insure the street while others' insurance has doubled, it's just shattering."
The impact of the controversial notations was raised at Monday night's council meeting during discussion over an update on the draft Wollongong coastal zone management plan.
The plan was considered by the council last year but it deferred finalising the document after the NSW government announced plans to reform its coastal management framework.
On Monday night, councillors voted to retain the coastal hazard notations on Illawarra properties until further direction was provided by the state government.
The notations are currently required under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and were instituted by Wollongong City Council three years ago.
The council plans to monitor the state government reform process and provide another update in 12 months.
But Mr Kennedy believes the plan has left residents at a stalemate, forced to continue to pay whopping insurance premiums and unable to undertake any development.
"They say they'll review it in a year but everyone suffers in the meantime," he said.
"I know one resident who owns two properties on the street and he wants to knock them down to build a nice home; he's happy to employ people to do it but he's not going to do anything at the moment, it's just losing jobs for people who really need them."
A council spokesperson said the council was able to provide advice to prospective purchasers on the risks of a particular property.
He said insurance premiums and property values were determined by other agencies and markets, not by the council. The spokesperson said there were no plans to remove or change the notations.