Final day for submissions on housing subdivision on floodplain

ABOVE: The proposed housing site at 59 Rileys Hill Rd during the floods of 2022. Photo: Contributed

Susanna Freymark

Jemma and Ethan Donnelly live on Rileys Hill Rd and are among many residents opposed to developing the paddock across the road.

Submissions for or against the development application – 59 Rileys Hill Road, Broadwater DA2023/0100 made by Ardill, Payne & Partners – are due today by 5pm.

There have been many community meetings about the housing development.

Here’s a summary of what Jemma and Ethan have put in their submission to Richmond Valley Council.

“We live opposite the proposed development and really struggle to fathom how anyone could propose putting a housing subdivision on this floodplain, especially after the recent floods in February and March 2022.”

Jemma and Ethan want the council to reject the development and to change the zoning of the land.

“Other councils have changed the zoning of land during the DA assessment period, so Richmond Valley Council should do the same. We should not have to go through this process again at some time in the future,” they said.

“We acknowledge the land has been zoned residential since 1972, however surely the council has learnt that where we develop needs to change. A lot has changed since 1972 when this land was zoned residential, this land can be re-zoned. Please lead the way in making responsible change for the future.”

Ethan and Jemma said they understood the importance and demand for affordable housing.

But this floodplain is not the place to develop. Building a high, two-storey house from flood-resilient materials is not cheap. Unfortunately, replacing damaged houses after it floods is even more expensive, they said.

Flood insurance is increasingly difficult to get in this area.

Concerns remain around the 60-block development, including waiting for the release of documents on council’s flood study, a CSIRO flood study and flood survey.

They asked:

“Is climate change impacting the likelihood of it re-occurring more regularly at even higher heights?

“The bigger issue is why would you wish to put even more people through that devastation and trauma? The whole of Broadwater had to be evacuated from their houses, we had very limited resources and tinnies to rescue trapped residents. This would be adding 60 more houses (on top of the larger current development underway on Evans Head Rd) that would need help and support.

“Is Richmond Valley Council or the developer going to compensate future land/home buyers if they are devastated by future flooding due to the fact that it was knowingly built on a floodplain?”

Broadwater and surrounding areas are still trying to recover from the last devastating flood. More than 12 months later, many who oppose this proposed development are still living in caravans or in the shells of their houses as they slowly repair the damage, Jemma said.

“To even propose a development like this is insensitive and reckless. Our community is busy trying to get their lives back together and don’t have the time or energy to put towards this development like they normally would. In fact, a lot of people find it triggering and traumatising to even contemplate how this development could impact them and others are just in disbelief that council has not already rezoned the land to stop the development proposal.”

More information about the DA is on the Richmond Valley Council website.

Among the many documents there is an additional flood study here.

Written submissions need to be in today, May 12 by 5pm and can be emailed to council@richmondvalley.nsw.gov.au

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