Friday, October 23, 2009

Stop Bellingen Council's planned population explosion

Click for more on my bioregion
Another three hundred,
Three hundred houses,
And later three hundred more.
Then another three hundred
Will be urged out of greed
And each acre they'll bleed
Till this place won't be this place any more.

Babe Ruth said of a restaurant
"Don't go to that place. It's too crowded --
Nobody goes there no more."
And so of our town;
Bring in thousands and thousands
And all will lose what they came here for.

Bellingen Shire's conservative Shire Council is promoting the subdivision of enough land to squeeze in another 300 houses in the town area. If an average of just three people live in each house, the village's population (estimated at about 2,500) will almost overnight grow by 900, or a mind-shredding 40 per cent. And that will not be the end of it. Bellingen's characteristic sense of community is under threat, to say nothing of its natural assets.

Councillors, real estate agents and those making a beeline to the bank will ultimately be complicit in the planned destruction of the very things that attract people to this beautiful area in the first place, and will kill the goose that lays the golden egg if not out-strategized.

"Mayor Mark Troy said that draft plan was the principal framework underpinning the future growth and development of the Shire.

"'The draft plan is the culmination of several years of strategic planning work undertaken by Council, including the Bellingen Shire Growth Management Strategy 2007,' Cr Troy said." Source

Growth management? Management of cancer is designed to prevent the growth of cells that will lead to the death of the patient, not to promote such unrestrained growth.

The draft plan is now on exhibition until December 4, 2009 at Bellingen Shire Council Chambers. I, for one, will be making a written submission and I urge other locals to do so.

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Blogger Fignatz said...

Ah, Pip. There used to be an old saying that went along the lines of if you wanted to know where the next real estate boom was gonna be, all you had to do was follow the Kombies.

Back in the 1970s the money followed us into the Adelaide Hills, buying up what was once affordable property and replacing the "alternative community" (I don't really like that designation, but there you go) with white fences and princesses' ponies. Around the same time, friends who'd settled at Margaret River were experiencing a similar thing. So I moved on (aka fled).

In the 1980s Byron Bay was a quiet little town struggling to get over the closure of the local meatworks, and a laidback affordable paradise for surfers and alternatives – but the money was watching our Kombies.

So in the early 1990s I moved on again, fleeing to nearby Mullumbimby, but then the money that couldn't afford the by then outrageous prices of Byron Bay followed and created outrageous prices there too. (Currently, the money's about to develop hundreds of 600sqm blocks in Main Arm, 6km from Mullumbimby. That's the equivalent of building a small suburb at, say, Glennifer.)

Anyway, I moved on again, to an island in Moreton Bay. But lately, missing the chance to save the world via coffee shop discussions, I'd been thinking about moving to Bello, largely for the vibes and lifestyle, even though on recent visits I've been noticing an increasing influx of moneyed conservatism. And now, more to come, huh? Looks like I'll be staying on the island ( after all. At least the potential number of residents here is finite.

Uh-oh... Unless the money discovers the Moreton Bay Islands and decides to have us rezoned for high-rise.

As for you guys, watch out for parking meters sprouting in Church Street.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Pip said...

Damn right, Fignatz. I've been in and around the north coast of NSW since 1974, and moved to Bello in 75 or 76. It's grown and changed a lot. I still love it, but the lustre is wearing off ... mudbrick cottage on five acres for $650,000. It's disspiriting. Maybe we all gotta find another broke town, and disguise our kombis.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Fignatz said...

The really sad part of all this is the "subourgeoising" of the local culture. During my time in Byron Bay I watched as holiday-makers fell in love with the vibes, went home to their Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne suburbs and sold up, then moved to Byron Bay, bought a newly-built brick suburban-style home in a development on the edge of town, and then started complaining about the noise from the music venues and wanting the council to clean out all the non-mainstream freaky people that had turned them on so much during their original holiday.

Hey, now there's a flip-flopped scenario for your next theatrical production, Pip: the newcomers wanting to get rid of the locals.

9:09 AM  
Blogger Fignatz said...

Oops... I think I might've just described the white man's arrival in Australia.

9:34 AM  
Blogger Pip said...

Indeed. My play did in fact carry that sort of load.

6:58 PM  

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