From the Newsroom

Can the Valley cope with population expansion?

Rodney Stevens


Could the Clarence Valley be the over 50’s lifestyle accommodation capital of Australia?

A quick online search of over 50’s accommodation in the Clarence Valley reveals there are 11 over 50’s lifestyle accommodation facilities (3 are under construction) plus the proposed 250 home Glencoe resort at Gulmarrad.

With these and other subdivision developments at Iluka and James Creek, readers of the Independent have been asking ‘what plans are in place to cater for the infrastructure required for these developments?’

What measures does Clarence Valley Council CVC and the NSW Planning Department have in place to ensure adequate roads, road access, schools, health facilities, shops and sewage, to cope with anticipated population increases?

CVC Director Environment and Planning Adam Cameron said the valley is experiencing increased development activity.

“This includes a range of housing types, such as new subdivisions, some medium density development, and housing for the over-50s market,” he said. 

“These developments are generally characterised as planned growth, being on land identified in the Clarence Valley Settlement Strategy 1999 and zoned for housing in the Clarence Valley Environmental Plan 2011.” 

Prior to being rubber stamped ‘approved’ in the development application process, Mr Cameron said developers need to prove to council that appropriate infrastructure will be provided or is available. 

“This includes roads and pathways, water and wastewater, open space and community facilities,” he said. 

“Developers also pay contributions that go towards new infrastructure and maintenance. 

“Developments that have an unacceptable impact on our infrastructure are not approved.”

Mr Cameron said healthcare and education facilities are provided by the NSW Government, and the private sector delivers services like new shopping centres.

“It is local government’s role to ensure suitably zoned land and infrastructure are available to cater for planned growth,” he said. 

“Council routinely works with the NSW Government agencies to share information about population and demographic forecasting to assist with infrastructure planning.”

A Department of Education spokeswoman said the department uses population and dwelling projection data from government and non-government stakeholders to assess anticipated infrastructure demand. 

“The NSW Government is committed to making sure we have the schools across the Clarence Valley to provide high quality education for local families by investing in new and upgraded facilities as well as the ongoing maintenance of schools,” the spokeswoman said.  

“Based on the current population and dwelling data projections for the Clarence Valley Local Government Area, existing local primary and secondary schools are able to meet anticipated school enrolment demand.”  

The Independent has asked NSW Health about their plans for health facilities in the Clarence Valley. 

The council endorsed an Employment Land Strategy in 2022, Mr Cameron said which analysed commercial and industrial land available in the valley.

“This independent analysis concluded that there is generally sufficient commercially zoned land across the valley, and that more commercial land may be needed in the longer term in the Grafton town centre, Yamba town centre, Yamba village and Coutts Crossing,” he said.

“Council’s strategic planning work also strongly supports the State Government’s planned redevelopment of Grafton Base Hospital, as well as the approved Grafton Private Hospital, to create a health precinct in Grafton. 

“Council’s strategic planning documents also advocate for the future needs in Yamba, Maclean and the Lower Clarence.”

A long-awaited second Yamba access is progressing slowly.

“A ‘Yamba Bypass’ road remains part of our long-term planning,” Mr Cameron said. 

“The next step is currently underway, being a preliminary environmental assessment of the corridor, to gain an up-to-date understanding of the environmental values and constraints. 

“The feasibility and need for the bypass would be analysed only after a preliminary environmental assessment is completed.”