A View From The Edge
Issues in Rural and Metropolitan Fringe Planning
Principal Consultant, Edge Land Planning
Rural and Environmental Planning Consultants
Coastal Development Impacts
The coastal areas of NSW are experiencing significant growth. This phenomenon has been called sea change and tree change, however a more accurate all encompassing term is lifestyle living. People will move to coastal locations to live in small coastal and inland villages as well as on rural residential blocks ranging in size from 2ha to 40 ha. These blocks are often in a bush setting.
This has lead to a demand for expansion of settlements and more rural residential development. This also causes some division within the community - those who don't want change and those who do.
They are basically in 2 groups which can be explained by some acronyms - the CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) and the DUDES (Developers Under Delusionary Expectations). When the CAVE people meet the DUDES you get a LULU (Locally Unwanted Land Use). This explains the issue of coastal development pressures very well (and it is not just coastal development pressures).
The age profile of the people moving to these areas is a mixture of older people as well as people in their 30s and 40s with children. These younger people are moving for lifestyle and finding work in the local area or working from home. The older people are retiring.
This growth does have its impacts. Whilst it is acknowledged that there are some positive impacts, I will focus on the negatives. They basically stem from a lack of funding from all levels of Government.The migration is making demands for urban and rural residential land. This in turn is placing pressure on agricultural lands as vegetated land is more difficult to develop, especially if there are threatened species located there. It needs to be remembered that, along with the Sydney region the coast is also a part of the State's food bowl and a supplier of vegetables, nurseries, flowers and turf as well as dairy, beef cattle and other speciality livestock. The coastal urban areas have traditionally had small houses built mostly for holiday accommodation or for people on modest incomes. These houses made for a distinctive streetscape of small houses located in the centre of the lot with detached garage. However the people who are moving in want larger houses which take up the whole frontage and also have an attached garage which changes the streetscape considerably. The increases in urban and rural residential housing is also having an impact on the water quality as well as loss of vegetation and biodiversity. Nearly all rural residential development has on-site effluent disposal which causes water quality problems with the surrounding streams. In addition, a number of the smaller villages that are experiencing growth also only have on-site effluent disposal. This creates 2 problems - the rural residential lots might have sufficient area to dispose of the effluent but when there are 50 - 100 lots in one area, the cumulative impact causes problems. In the urban areas 1,000 m2 is too small to dispose of the effluent. The provision of infrastructure for basic things like water and sewerage, health and community services and to some degree education has not kept pace with the population growth. The Government's response has been to centralise the provision of services whilst not providing the transport for people access these centralised services.
On the whole, people living in coastal areas are transport disadvantaged. Transport in these areas is mostly restricted to cars. Bus services are only run on a regular basis for school children as it is only cost effective to run bus services in the larger towns. Rail transport is only useful if passengers can access the intercity or interstate trains - they cannot be used for short trips. Inter-city buses are available too. Taxis are a popular form of transport but this is beyond the financial means of a large proportion of these residents. Cycling is one form that is also restricted by the road surface which is not very safe.
The coastal areas are growing but this growth is having an impact on the amenity of the residents, the built form of the urban areas as well as the water quality, agricultural lands and biodiversity. The provision of infrastructure has not kept pace with this growth which is causing a problem with the quality of life of the residents who cannot access transport, health and community services in an equitable manner. It needs to be recognised that sustainable growth is a balance between the economic, environmental and social issues. NSW stands for New South Wales, not Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong. This imbalance needs to be addressed in order for us to achieve sustainable coastal communities.
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