To The Editor,

re Planning Proposal Erricson Lane, Taree.

In 2016 a Draft Area Plan was presented to Greater Taree City Council, which did not have a realistic chance to approve or amend it or do anything else with it as GTCC was placed in Administration that year. Midcoast Council has sat on its hands over the plan for four years.

It is a clever move, since a draft plan is binding on no-one.  It showed some possible development or rezoning down Erricson Lane, but what is now proposed is more extensive.  It would be desirable for local people to have the benefit of a binding plan so that they, in turn, can plan, or have a proper idea what to oppose.  Developers and Council can ignore the plan and do as they like.

If jobs and the economy are the drivers behind this proposal, the first question must be ‘why’.  There are huge plots available at the Bunnings site, and the Kolodong Industrial Estate is far from full.  The industrial estate at the Taree end of the Bucketts Way, adjacent to the Sale Yards, is underdeveloped. It has a beautiful road with gutters and kerbs, a luxury denied to ordinary residents of the area, whose tyres are shredded by crumbling tarmac, but who probably, paid for that road.  It has a small cement works at the far end, and nothing else.

Who will pay for the road into the new and unnecessary industrial estate?  The residents?  Who will benefit from it?  The developers and current owners?  Are the current owners footing part of the bill for this rezoning proposal and the attendant reports?  If successful won’t the new zone increase the value of their land considerably?  Are our rates paying for that?

There is no evidence that business is crying out to set up in Taree.  There are empty buildings and sites all over town.  Some years ago UGL was driven away by government policy over the purchase of railway materiel.  When Midcoast Trucks sought to buy the Masters building in 2017 for their growing trade and the employment it creates, they were seen off by Council which wanted the building for its new palatial HQ, rather ridiculous in a low socio-economic area with high unemployment.

Why do we need more industrial or commercial land allocation when what we have is neglected?  We do not.

The land in question adjoins and includes Koala habitat.  They are not migratory animals, but live in a region they regard as theirs, travelling within it.  Off-setting is harmful to their welfare, especially if the chosen ‘new home’ is away from their corridor to access it or is a different population, or not adequate food trees to support them. 

This further development near Manning River Drive is wrong.

Taree is supposed to be the hub of a tourist area.  Tourist drives run through it.  There are two main entrances to the town.  One is to have a huge transport hub on it, currently in course of construction, which may well be visible from the highway, particularly for occupants of southbound vehicles.  The other is the southern end of Manning River Drive, a kilometre of unsightly industrial and commercial buildings on one side and half that length on the other, including the ghastly Council palace.  

How any planner or Council imagined that this entrance might enchant anyone seeking a lovely tourist town is hard to envisage. The idea that this monstrous eyesore should be extended to the east is intolerable.  Is the approach to Taree to be turned into a replica of downtown Chicago or Pittsburgh?

Is there no pride in Australia’s countryside and wildlife, or is money the only thing close to Australian hearts?

Terry Stanton


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