Controversial $13.6m Bellawongarah development application dismissed

An artist’s impression of the proposed function centre, later changed to a restuarant, at the $13.6 million eco-tourism development at Bellawongarah.
An artist’s impression of the proposed function centre, later changed to a restuarant, at the $13.6 million eco-tourism development at Bellawongarah.

The Land and Environment Court has refused approval for the $13.6 million Rockfield Park development proposal at Bellawongarah saying it did not meet eco-tourism facility guidlines, was not in the “public interest” and had a number of outstanding issues including traffic.  

An onsite hearing into the controversial development was held in March with Commissioner Rosemary Martin handing down her judgement on Wednesday, October 18, upholding the Joint Regional Planning Panel and Shoalhaven City Council’s refusal of the development application for 801 Kangaroo Valley Road, Bellawongarah.

The Hamilton family through Camberlee Investments had applied to build a 42-cabin complex including a restaurant which could seat up to 300 people on the property between Berry and Kangaroo Valley.

In her judgment Commission Martin said development did not meet the requirements of clause 5.13 of the Shoalhaven Local Environmental Plan 2014 and could not be considered to be an eco-tourist facility.

The court also supported a number of merit considerations outlined by council and concerned residents including traffic, road safety and public interest.

“The proposal should not be granted consent as it it is contrary to the public interest, specifically regarding traffic and road safety,” Commission Martin said.

“In my view the traffic and road safety risks which the development would pose are unacceptable and warrant the refusal of the development.

“In my view, the road safety risks the development would pose are unacceptable.”

An artist’s impression of the proposed cabins at the $13.6 million eco-tourism development at Bellawongarah.

An artist’s impression of the proposed cabins at the $13.6 million eco-tourism development at Bellawongarah.

Commissioner Martin said the location was not suitable for the proposed development.

Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley said she was happy the court has upheld council’s refusal of the development on the grounds that it was not an eco-tourism facility and had a number of outstanding issues including traffic.

“This development was not in the public interest of Shoalhaven residents who clearly did not support the proposal,” Cr Findley said.

“Council originally refused this application and the applicant wanted to take the matter to court. It is fantastic that the court has supported council’s original decision and subsequently also refused this application.”

She thanked the residents who took such an active role in this process through providing submissions, attending court sessions and actively working to ensure that this development did not go ahead.

“The Berry community sent a clear message to the applicant and to council that this development should not be supported and it is pleasing that the residents have won their fight,” Cr Findley said.

Council’s development manager Cathy Bern said the proposal had been a long and detailed process.

“We are so pleased that the original decision of council to refuse the development, has been supported by the court,” she said.

“Council staff, with the support of councillors, have worked hard to ensure that the best case was put forward to the court for consideration and that all the issues were clearly outlined.

“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of all the residents in putting forward their case to the court and working so closely with council on this matter.

“It is wonderful that the court has recognised the hard work of council in achieving a good outcome for our community.”

  • A full copy of the Land and and Environment Court judgement is available here 
This story Land and Environment court rejects Rockfield Park development first appeared on South Coast Register.