Iron Gates development proposal coming to a head

ABOVE: A group from Evans Head came to the Richmond Valley Council meeting to show their opposition to the Iron Gates DA.

Susanna Freymark

A brightly painted banner with Stop Iron Gates Development hung on the fence outside the council chambers in Casino tonight, Tuesday, July 19.

Fifteen people were at the Richmond Valley Council meeting to show their opposition to the Iron Gates development application that was on the agenda.

Lyndall Murray and Elaine Saunders addressed councillors and council staff at the beginning of the meeting.

Ms Murray said the opposition group of 15 represented 600 active campaigners who did not support Iron Gates.

She said the recent flooding showed the impact on the Iron Gates site.

“Iron Gates Rd went completely under water in both floods,” she said.

“We facilitated 5000 (rescue) missions during the floods. Adding another 200 houses to another suburb – people will die.”

Ms Murray has flood-impacted people staying at her home and she is aware of the housing crisis.

Long-term sustainable housing solutions are needed, she said.

“This development is not for the many but for the benefit of the greed of a few.”

Ms Saunders addressed council – she wanted the council to rezone the area.

“In 2019 I was evacuated because of the fire. I was lucky, the wind changed.”

The Iron Gates site was a “bushfire nightmare in the making”, she said.

“There is one road in and out.”

“In 2022, the south side of Evans Head was cut off in floods.

“We do not need more people at risk. There will be 500 more people to rescue.”

Ms Saunders has made four lengthy submissions against the DA.

“We should take into account more extremes of environment,” she said.

“The report commissioned by Richmond Valley Council is an excellent examination of the DA before council.”

The council engaged an independent town planner to do a report on the Iron Gates DA for a 187-lot subdivision on land next to the Evans River.

The independent planner concluded that the proposed development was not a good planning outcome with regard to the environmental sensitivity of the land.

The report has been submitted to the Northern Regional Planning Panel and council’s acting general manager Angela Jones said the panel would reject or approve the DA. It is likely that the panel would hold a public hearing in the next few weeks.

Councillor Robert Hayes took to the stand – “I’ve got a story,” he said.

“I’ve resided in Evans Head for 30 years. Iron Gates has been a topic for discussion in all that time,” he said.

Councillor Hayes said his interest since the very first DA for Iron Gates was about employment opportunities in building and the growth of the town.

Opinions on Iron Gates had created a wedge in the town, he said.

“Protests, petitions and beat-up stories on Iron Gates are the same today as in the ’90s.”

We need this wedge removed from the community, he said.

“The land is privately owned. The proposal in its current form is not ideal and there has been seven years (for the developer) to change this.

“For me to personally support the Iron Gates proposal I’d need to see changes to give consent. It is ready to proceed to the panel for consideration. Any further assessment places a financial burden on council and the community,” Councillor Hayes said.

Those for or against the development are likely to agree that the long and controversial saga about the Iron Gates subdivision needs to end.

The planning panel’s decision should provide that end. A community waits to hear a yes or no for a controversial development proposal that has been part of Evans Heads’ history for far too long.

The banner hanging outside the council chambers in Casino. Photos: Susanna Freymark

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