500 signatures reached
To: Port Stephens Council
Keep Wallalong Rural
A few years ago you voted by a margin of 7:5 to designate the small rural village of Wallalong as a "new town", as part of the Council's Settlement Strategy. You made this decision against the advice of your own planning staff, and against the advice of the NSW Department of Planning, and the NSW Minister for Planning, and despite the proposal not being part of the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy. Apparently, your settlement strategy isn't working, and you want to dump future population growth on us to get you out of a bind, despite it being a bad, unplanned and highly impractical idea.
Before you made that decision, you didn't really make any meaningful effort to consult the people of Wallalong and Woodville, those most directly affected. You didn't really make any effort to consult them or publicise your decision after you made it either. Not a single councillor or council officer came to see us, invited us to see them, called a public meeting, asked our opinion or even sent us a letter explaining the decision. You still seem completely unaware that we, the people most affected, overwhelmingly reject the idea.
Wallalong is a sleepy little village of 900 people on a single hill in the middle of a floodplain. If your decision became reality, it would mean the surrounding farms being carved up into some 3,700 housing lots, to be lived in by some 10,000 people, with some 6,500 cars.
The developers, who represent just nine landowners, would need to create such a dense mini-city because that's the only way to make it pay - Wallalong is miles from anywhere, is served by narrow country roads, single-lane bridges and has very few services. At present, it doesn't even have a single corner shop!
Recently these developers put their concept plans on show for the first time and many residents discovered to their dismay that their land, homes and businesses had been included in this entirely inappropriate scheme. How would you feel if that happened to you without anybody asking if it was okay and ignoring your wishes to the contrary?
Before this foolish and costly idea goes any further, the residents of Wallalong and Woodville call on you to take a step back and review your hasty decision.
You see, recently, we had a large public meeting and workshop to formulate a very different vision for our community - our own vision. We agreed unanimously that we wish to maintain, protect and promote our rural heritage, agricultural economy and rural landscape and natural environment.
This time, we want you to come and see us, consult us, discuss the whole idea with us. Work with us, rather than imposing on us against our will a scheme that we don't want and is clearly unworkable. We're all for progress - we just have a different view of what progress is for our area. You'll find we have some very good, interesting and positive ideas. Let's start again and work together this time.
Why is this important?
First, the scheme itself is going to be very costly and very difficult to implement - all ratepayers will inevitably bear some of the cost of overcoming the massive infrastructure and access problems this site has - there are cheaper, better options.
Second, natural justice has not been done: our views have been all but ignored. This is wrong and undemocratic. Councillors have ignored the will of their electors and ratepayers. We will vote accordingly.
Third, our area has just celebrated its bicentenary - we have a 200-year-old tradition of sustainable agriculture and rural life. It is a very special social and cultural heritage of two centuries of continuous farming (most comparable land in Sydney has been swallowed by suburbs) and there is no reason to believe it could not continue for another two centuries - we have been good stewards of the land and we take pride in and value our heritage and our stewardship of the land. We offer food security for the future of the region and long-term growth in tourism income.