Squabble over Seaham Road development site

Claims from rural property owners that millions of dollars invested in farmland in and around Nelsons Plains could be jeopardised with a housing development have been rejected by the developers of a 38-lot subdivision proposal earmarked for 610 Seaham Road.

Neighbouring farmers to the proposed housing estate say they are concerned that an influx of residents complaining about the noise and odour emanating from their poultry and cattle farming practices has the potential to negatively impact their businesses.

But for the developers, John Lidbury and Hilton Grugeon, the accusations are unfounded.

“The truth of the matter is that this area is littered with subdivisions without issues or complaints from farmers,” said Mr Lidbury, a 40-year resident of the area and whose wife Jennifer (nee Foot) has resided there all of her 69 years.

“Why didn’t the farmers say something about other subdivisions or when the childcare centre went in? Why are we different? They are playing the man, not the ball.”

Left of the fence is the land that is earmarked for a 38-lot subdivision. Right of the fence is the property of cattle farmer Peter Manuel.

Plans to subdivide the 40-hectare property from RU1 Primary Production to R5 Large Lot Residential have been in the planning stages for decades.

However, a rescission motion signed by councillors John Nell, Giacomo Arnott, Ken Jordan and Steve Tucker saw the application returned to the September 8 meeting.

Despite some impassioned pleas from both farmers during public access and councillors, their attempts to stop its progress was lost when Ryan Palmer, Sarah Smith, Glen Dunkley, Jaimie Abbott and Chris Doohan voted down the rescission motion.

Nelsons Plains cattle farmer Peter Manuel speaking with neighbour Peter Bartolo as they look out to the land earmarked for development.

Nelsons Plains cattle farmer Peter Manuel speaking with neighbour Peter Bartolo as they look out to the land earmarked for development.

“We were relying on the councillors stopping it there and then but we were let down. We don’t understand the state government [Gateway] process,” said cattle farmer Peter Manuel, whose property adjoins the proposed development.

“We have been farming here for 24 years and for some years now we have been fighting these developers who want to build 11 [from a total of 38] houses alongside our boundary fence.

“We are on the lower side so there is real concern about the water run-off, chemicals in gardens, not to mention the security issues.”

Another neighbour, Peter Bartolo, says he has invested millions of dollars to run his nearby turkey farm.

“I am not against sub-divisions in the right spot … this is definitely not the right spot. I fear any residential development will bring constant complaints about the noise and smell emanating from our farm,” he said.

Cr Nell said he agreed that a housing development in the midst of a rural community would be “one hell of an impost on the farmers”.

“Many have invested or borrowed millions of dollars on their land and to all of a sudden have complaints from residents would not be right. I would like to see the applicant include the farmers in any future proposal in order they receive a fair deal,” he said.

West ward’s Cr Arnott said councillors were the gatekeepers for bad proposals and they “have the power and the responsibility to stop [this proposal]”.

“We should be protecting the livelihoods of our local farmers, we should be listening to our community and acting in their best interests along with their families and jobs. The community will remember this at the next election in 12 months time,” Cr Arnott said.

Cr Jordon said he supported the rescission because the farmers needed to be heard.

“I grew up on a chicken farm, I have known many of these farmers, many who have poured millions of dollars and are now worried they are being run out of town,” he said.

The councillors voting in favour of the planning proposal argued that the DA was being progressed through the correct channels and the community would get an opportunity to comment during the Gateway process.

Cr Doohan said that blocking the proposal at council could mean that the development would come back again and again.

“I understand that the people want to be heard but this is not the time, save your energy for the state government [Gateway] process,” he said.

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