Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Queensland white shoe brigade onboard as owner of around 33.49ha of James Creek land has another run at overdevelopment


The Daily Examiner online, 12 November 2021:

The James Creek plan could see hundreds of residential lots opened up.

The current proposal at Lot 104 James Creek Road, James Creek was lodged by Madison Ruygrok through Kahuna No 1 Pty Ltd. If approved by Clarence Valley Council it would see 327 residential lots, one commercial lot and two open-space lots created.

According to civil engineering drawings prepared by Geolink in October this year, the majority of proposed sites would be between 600-799 square metres in size with the subdivision to be delivered in five stages with most to have two or three sub-stages.

It’s not the first time the site has raised the ire of nearby residents so it is expected there will be some strong opposition to the most recent plan.

In the March 2014 fiery remarks were hurled from the public gallery as James Creek residents watched Clarence Valley councillors agree to rezone the lot from primary production to general residential and medium density residential.

Then, in November 2020, multiple submissions were made opposing a development application that proposed 336 residential lots, four drainage reserves, one commercial lot and one public reserve.

However, residents against the development were relieved to discover that a month later, the application was withdrawn.

But despite their best efforts to thwart that development, a future of medium to high-density housing in this quiet, semi rural Lower Clarence suburb seems inevitable.

Over a decade ago, James Creek was targeted as an ideal spot for urban growth.

According to the Mid-North Coast Regional Strategy 2006-2013, James Creek was identified as an area for proposed future urban release, along with Gulmarrad and West Yamba.

Residents and members of the community have until December 3 to make a submission to Clarence Valley Council on the development application (number SUB2021/0042).

The owner & only listed shareholder of Kahuna No.1 Pty Ltd is Billabong founder Gordon Stanley Merchant of Tungan Qld and Madison Ruygrok is currently listed as a Town Planner with Place Design Group Pty Ltd of Fortitude Valley Qld.

Oddly in SUB2021/0042 - currently before Clarence Valley Council - it lists the developer of the land as The Trustee for MPD INVESTMENTS UNIT TRUST not Kahuna No1.

Presumably The Trustee for MPD Investments Unit Trust - an entity created in 2021 with an ABN registered in Queensland - is associated with Gordon Merchant.

Mr. Merchant's financial difficulties became known when the Australian Taxation Office reportedly penalised him around $13 million "after an audit by the tax office has ended with Mr Merchant being disqualified for “recklessly contravening” superannuation laws, as well as owing $45m in back tax".  

Administrative Decisions Tribunal April 2021 records show that Mr. Merchant lodged an Income Tax Objection in October 2020 and, he remains disqualified from acting as trustee or responsible officer of corporate trustees of superannuation entities, under subsections 126A(2) and 126A(3) of the SIS Act. 

One has to wonder if either Kahuna No 1, MPD Investments Pty Ltd or The Trustee for MPD Investments Unit Trust are financially secure enough to meet all the fees and charges associated with this development application and commencement of works. 

Or indeed if it is wise to pack an est. 818 persons into such a sardine tin housing estate on approx. 33.49ha between Maclean and Yamba in what is essentially still an agricultural area on a sensitive part of the flood plain where floodwaters are  liable to cut off access to & egress from farms and urban areas in a strong flooding event.