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What is the future for Iron Gates?

The masterplan for the controversial development at Evans Head has been withdrawn.

by Susanna Freymark, 08/11/2021, 2 min read

Claire Rankin

GOLD Coast developer Graham Ingles’s Goldcoral Pty Ltd has withdrawn the Iron Gates draft master plan lodged with the Department of Planning Industry and Environment.

The plan was to create 175 residential building blocks on the Evans River at Evans Head and has been under review for about five years.

Richmond Valley Council is now reviewing the withdrawal of the master plan for the controversial development.

DPIE approval of the master plan was a legal requirement before the DA could proceed.

“Council is aware the master plan has been withdrawn by the applicant and is reviewing what this means for the assessment of this DA,” a council statement said.

“This will require liaison with the applicant, the DPIE and other government agencies.”

Iron Gates opponent Richard Gates said legislative changes have meant that a master plan is no longer required for coastal developments.

However, the DA had been lodged under the old legislation, so the council cannot proceed with any assessment of it because the master plan withdrawal has made it defunct, he said.

Whether the developer will lodge a new DA under current laws is uncertain as Mr Ingles was unavailable for comment.

Under previous state environmental planning policy, the DPIE had to endorse the master plan prior to any DA determination.

Authority to consent to the DA rests with the Northern Regional Planning Panel, which determines large developments.

Iron Gates opponents have called on both the developer and the council to withdraw the DA, lodged in 2019, as it can no longer be assessed or approved.

Goldcoral was established after DA approval was lost and the original developer, Iron Gates Pty Ltd, went into liquidation in 1997.

This was about the same time as the Land and Environment Court ordered the developer to restore illegally cleared land at an estimated cost of $2 million.

Iron Gates has been strongly opposed by Indigenous groups, environmentalists and some Evans Head locals for many years.

“We need to turn to alternative solutions now rather than large residential development,” Dr Gates said.

Given a native title claim on an area surrounding the development was successful in April, the site could be included as cultural heritage, he said.

Opponents claim the DA should be rejected on a range of grounds including fire risk, river quality, claims of a misleading draft masterplan and the fact land restoration was never carried out.

Those in favour of the development estimate an increase in town revenue, hundreds of jobs, as well as a boost to local population and related infrastructure.