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Tomaree Ratepayers and Residents Association Update

TRRA Update, March 2024

A Discussion Paper on The Future for Housing on the Tomaree Peninsula

The paper acknowledges the need for more genuinely affordable housing, but questions whether the State Government’s ambitions for overall housing growth, which they appear to be imposing on all Councils, are realistic.  The paper identifies 8 pre-conditions that need to be met for community acceptance of significant infill development.  Council will soon be putting a draft revised Housing Strategy for Port Stephens on public exhibition. TRRA will be preparing a submission based on its discussion paper, the principles of which can be applied throughout the LGA, although perhaps with different conclusions for other parts of Port Stephens.

This discussion paper is now available on TRRAs website

The Draft Shoal Bay Place Plan

This plan proposes some significant changes to planning controls to allow for more dwellings to be built.  In its submission, TRRA has applied the ‘pre-conditions’ identified in its Housing Discussion Paper, and concludes that there is very limited scope for new development in Shoal Bay at least until the major constraints of access and stormwater drainage have been addressed.

Proposals for significant increases in building height limits are also contrary to the clear wishes of the local community to preserve the local character.  Analysis of submissions will be reported back to Council at its meeting on 23 April. Our submission is available on the TRRA website.

Other recent submissions to Council included support for:

  • stronger controls on development in floodways
  • a new Community Wellbeing Strategy
  • a good policy on information signs on road reserves (which we contrasted with the weak controls on signs on private land).

Good News!

TRRA, particularly the former members of the Soldiers Point Community Group (now absorbed into TRRA) were very pleased to hear on 29 February that the appeal by Soldiers Point Marina against Council’s refusal of their DA for expansion of the Marina buildings was dismissed by the Land and Environment Court. TRRA members had made presentations against the appeal to the on-site Court hearing earlier in February.

Jet Ski Update

At February’s general meeting, guest speakers Ben van de Wijngaart and Frank Future, spoke on the subject of personal watercraft  (PWC) in particular jet skis and the community’s concerns about behaviour of some owners. The following issues were noted:

  • Lack of speed limits, with the exception of a few 4 knot buoys, on the water for all leisurecraft
  • Danger to swimmers because of limited vision area for a driver of a fast-moving jet ski
  • Destruction of marine life with particular reference to an incident involving black swans during the past holiday period, and the danger to dolphins and turtles because of the lack of signature noise underwater.
  • Sea Shelter data shows 41 turtles lost in the previous 3 months and Frank advised that if PWC were banned from Marine Sanctuary Zones, marine life would eventually congregate there and be protected.  
  • Increasing need for rescue – up 23% reflecting increased numbers on the harbour
  • Calls from people on beaches because of rule breaking behaviour.

The meeting was advised that the number to call to report bad behaviour or the need for marine rescue is 131 236. Ben added it was important to try and give the craft’s registration number. Frank mentioned that he had discussed the issue with Local Member Kate Washington particularly the need to have a leisure watercraft speed limit on estuarine waterways in NSW.  He also mentioned that Kiama Council had recently limited estuarine access for PWC to certain ramps.

After a lengthy and spirited discussion about possible control mechanisms, the following motion was passed:

That TRRA, with the assistance of Frank Future, work with EcoNetwork Port Stephens and the Marine Parks Association to lodge a petition, of 10,000 signatures, to the State Government via Local member Kate Washington and Minister for the Environment, Penny Sharpe.

The petition is to ask that the State Government legislate a speed limit for leisure watercraft on estuarine waterways in NSW. And as only 500 signatures are required to present a petition to Council, this should be done at the same time. It should ask Port Stephens Council to limit the access to local waterways for PWC to ramps that are not alongside family swimming beaches such as Little Beach. Soldiers Point Boat ramp was mentioned as being a likely point.

A committee meeting has since been held to progress plans for a petition and other actions, and to inform the EcoNetwork committee of TRRAs intentions.

More Information

Published: 2 Mar 2024