Beachside owners back planning review

Ross Kennedy is sceptical about the section 149 review. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
Ross Kennedy is sceptical about the section 149 review. Picture: CHRISTOPHER CHAN

Owners of beachside homes in the Illawarra have welcomed a proposal to review controversial planning certificates they say have sent land values plummeting.

But they are not confident the review's recommendations will ever be adopted in the region.

Woonona resident Ross Kennedy applauded a state government draft circular, placed on exhibition this week, that seeks to overhaul section 149 coastal hazard notations but feared Wollongong City Council would not adopt the plan.

"It's a recommendation, not a directive, so it's still open to the council to do what they like," he said. "We have a group of good councillors but they have their own views on the world.

"My fear is that they will decide to stick with what we've got ... it will be up to them to take the message and do something about it," he said.

Mr Kennedy paid more than $1 million for his Beach Drive home, only for it, and 18 others on the street, to be slapped with the certificates marking them under threat from predicted sea level rises.

He claims the notices have tarnished property values, stripping owners of tens of thousands of dollars.

"Since the [certificates] were introduced, my land value has dropped 6 per cent, that's about $100,000 taken off my property value," Mr Kennedy said.

"It's also put a stigma on the place - it makes buyers think: 'do I want to take the risk?' It's harder to sell."

This week, the NSW government released the draft circular, recommending councils clearly distinguish between current and future hazards on the certificates.

It also suggested councils consider coastal hazards in the context of their local circumstances, winding back Labor's endorsements of a statewide sea-level rise benchmark.

Mr Kennedy labelled the proposal a "sensible approach"

However, Mr Kennedy said he would wait to see if the council followed suit.

"It's disappointing that it's a recommendation, not a decree, it just doesn't go far enough," he said.

"Our street will definitely be waiting with bated breath to see what happens."

Last year, the council voted to retain the coastal hazard notations on Illawarra properties until further direction was provided by the state government, resolving to provide another update in 12 months.

Given this week's developments, Mr Kennedy is keen to see the topic discussed sooner, rather than later.

The draft planning circular will be on exhibition until March 3.

A Wollongong council spokesman said the council would review the circular and provide a submission before the closing date.


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