Catherine Hill Bay is at the centre of a development dispute between the handful of locals who want things to stay the same as they’ve been and those (including some locals) who welcome change. At almost an hour south of Newcastle in traffic, and about the same to Gosford, lifestyle and the proximity to the beach are the drawcards.

Here’s a picture I took of the bay on my way to Sydney on Friday.  Up on the hill in the centre of the photo is the disused mine that is the site of the controversy. More after the jump…


Currently there are some 100 residences in the vicinity of this beach, but when the proposed development is complete, an additional 1000 lots are estimated. This sleepy little slice of paradise will hit the big time with residential sales and housing construction if this development is approved.

It has been reported in the local newspapers that the developer, Rose Corp, has recently lodged preliminary plans with the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, and if the proposal is accepted it would be forseable that lots could be on the market within a year.

It’s hard not to have an opinion about developments that will radically change the local community, but a disused coal mine is sitting beside a beautiful beach, what would you do with it if you were a developer, or if you were the Minister for Planning. There will always be a vocal minority who oppose change, particularly, but not always limited to, those who’s lives are most likely to be affected. I suppose that some people would say that the site could be turned into a National Park or something, some comments:

  1. there doesn’t appear to be precedent for such a course of action for a site like this,
  2. the area is already surrounded by residential and could be integrated into (and even improve) the existing infrastructure.

I don’t like the idea of the local residents getting pushed around by a developer, nor do I like the way that the planning laws give a level of protection to developments that are environmentally sensitive, but at the end of the day, development is going to keep happening, particularly on the coast, rather than opposing every development proposal that comes along, how about we get behind some of them and bring about change in how they are built and the principles they stand on.

Published by Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas P.Eng. ENV SP, is the author of and Director of Engineering at the City of Revelstoke in the Interior of British Columbia, Canada.

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