Residents in their hundreds turned out to oppose the Kiama South development on Saturday.
Billed as the "last chance" to stop the development of over 400 homes along the Princes Highway, Kiama Mayor Neil Reilly, Kiama MP Gareth Ward and chair of Kiama Central Precinct Mark Greaves addressed the socially distanced rally, calling for NSW Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts to reject the proposal.
The 40 hectare development proposal is currently before an independent review, ordered by Mr Roberts after Mr Ward, Mr Greaves and others met with the Planning Minister last year.
The terms of reference of the review require the independent reviewer to visit the site and Kiama and on Saturday protestors called for Minister Roberts to do the same.
"We have a new minister in The Hon Anthony Roberts MP and I'd love the chance to meet him here in Kiama, to gain a first-hand understanding of what's proposed, why Council opposes it and the concerns of our community as well," said newly elected Mayor Neil Reilly.
Mr Ward called on those who attended the rally to write to the Minister opposing the development.
"It's on him. He's the Minister for Planning, he's responsible. But all of us have the opportunity to have one more go."
This week, the NSW Valuer General revealed that Kiama had the second most valuable land of any LGA in NSW, bar Byron Bay, but Mr Greaves said that the Kiama South proposal would do nothing to alleviate the housing affordability crisis.
"Please don't believe what the proponents may say about South Kiama," he said. "The only way that development could be affordable for most people is if they decrease the market value of those properties."
Opponents of the Kiama South development highlighted a number of grievances with the proposal. These included the impact on already congested local roads, the extra demand placed on the sewage system that is currently overflowing and the turning of rural farming land into residential land.
Mr Ward said that a more appropriate site for development would be at Bombo Quarry, due to its proximity to the M1 and Bombo train station.
"In fact, the Illawarra Shoalhaven Regional Plan outlines that that should be a place for future development."
Labor councillors Imogen Draisma and Stuart Larkins attended the rally and also voiced their opposition to the development, however Labor questioned Mr Ward's stance on the development.
"We do not, however support the actions of Kiama MP Gareth Ward - it was Mr Ward's Liberal government that handed increased powers to NSW DPIE and the Independent Planning Commission to run roughshod over NSW communities and councils, and ignore expert advice, at a time when Mr Ward was a minister," Kiama Labor branch president Jamie Cole said.
"This gross misplacement of power happened on Mr Ward's watch and he must be accountable for the mess his government created and that we as residents are now fighting so hard to overturn."
Mr Greaves highlighted that current residential development and future land releases at Gerringong and Kiama Downs meant that the Kiama LGA was already exceeding the targets for new residential development set out in the previous housing strategy.
Mr Ward said that the turnout on Saturday forcefully communicated the community's attitude to the Kiama South development.
"The fact that we had hundreds of people come here today to say no to this development sends a clear and unambiguous message as to what this community feels about this development."
Mr Greaves said that with Minister Roberts having the final say, he needed to know first hand the community's attitude to the development.
"That he actually comes down and talks to us to start with, that would be nice instead of making decisions from Parramatta or Martin Place."
The Illawarra Mercury newsroom is funded by our readers. You can subscribe to support our journalism here.
Sign up for breaking news emails below ...
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.