The Birrigan Gargle Local Aboriginal Land Council’s (BGLALC) subdivision project in Hickey Street, Iluka, was a long time in the planning, attracting criticism for a host of reasons along the way and, like most communities, rumours have abounded; but speculation about what or what is not happening will soon be a memory … work is due to commence soon.
“The development application was prolonged,” said Clare Murray, the land council’s CEO, “but it has now been fully approved and work will be commencing shortly.”
Putting paid to a rumour regarding “financial” problems, Ms Murray said, “It’s important to know that stages 1 and 2 have been fully sold and that Birrigan Gargle will be releasing Stage 3 [for sale] in the near future.
“Birrigan Gargle is very proud of the fact that it is providing a high-end development in Iluka, which will be of great benefit to the wider community with the flow-on effects.”
The project first came to the public’s attention in January 2012, when the BGLALC announced that it had partnered with property development company, The Stevens Group, to develop the subdivision.
“We submitted our DA in December 2015,” BGLALC chair Amanda Laurie said.
But it wasn’t until September 2019 that the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) chair Garry West told a packed Iluka community hall that the panel “supported” the 141-lot subdivision “in principle, as presented”.
At that community meeting, Ms Laurie said that the development would provide “job opportunities” for the local Indigenous population.
“It will help us be sustainable and to protect our lands for now and in the future,” she said.
“We want self-determination on this; we ask for peace, respect and to be treated fairly.
“We have been patient for many years … and want to walk together towards reconciliation.”
Yaegl Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation CEO, Billy Walker, expressed similar sentiments, when he said, “Yeagl people have aspirations, economic and social; it’s taken 20 years to be able to talk here today.”
Ms Murray confirmed that “employment opportunities have been taken up by local Birrigan Gargle members”.
“That will continue as stages 3 and 4 are rolled out,” she said.
However, there was a catch: background radiation levels, left over from sand mining the site, would have to be reassessed prior to granting final approval – this issue was subsequently resolved when Cardno (NSW/ACT) Pty Ltd conducted a “peer review of the DA-submitted Field Radiation Survey Report prepared by [initial consultant] Earth Systems”.
The Cardno review concluded that it “generally agrees with the ‘Earth Systems’ conclusions [and] that the proposed development site is suitable for residential land use on the basis of the surface radiation exposure risk”.
Ms Laurie said that CVC approved the following street names on June 26, 2020: Laurie Drive, Yaegl Cresent, Bella Way, Aluga Avenue, Yarrgarri Place, Wuy Wuy Street, Gargle Circuit and Ngaru Close.
“In June 2020, the nest boxes were installed in Stage 1 works to protect fauna,” she said.
“On December 3, 2020, we finally received the subdivision works certificate from CVC for the Stage 1 vegetation clearing and bulk earthworks, which were completed on December 18, 2020.
“Following the completion of those works, we lodged the Stage 2 subdivision works certificate application.
“On July 9, 2021, we finally received Stage 2 vegetation clearing subdivision works certificate approval from CVC.”
Ms Laurie said the perceived “prolonged time” taken to get to this stage was “due to [requirements of] various levels of government and government departments”.
Ms Murray said the BGLALC’s “vision” aims “to empower our members to become socially and economically self-sufficient through improved health, housing, education programs and employment opportunities”.