Submissions have now closed
Thank you to the many individuals who took the time to forward submissions to Glamorgan Spring Bay Council through our website. The ECA is enormously grateful for your support.
While submissions have closed, the following will provide useful background reading for those wanting to learn about the Cambria Green SAP and its potential impacts.
Re: Specific Area Plan and Other Amendments, Cambria Estate, Swansea
Glamorgan Spring Bay Interim Planning Scheme 2015
Application Date: 20 March 2018
The Cambria Green Specific Area Plan (SAP) is requesting zoning and planning amendments to 3,185 hectares of land around Swansea, Cambria and Dolphin Sands.
The Cambria Green SAP and Masterplan is one of the largest planning scheme amendments and tourism developments ever proposed for the East Coast of Tasmania. If the SAP is approved, it would open the way for this and other developments with the potential to change forever the social, cultural and environmental characteristics of the entire East Coast, not just Swansea, Dolphin Sands and Cambria.
If approved by the Tasmanian Planning Commission, the SAP could allow significant changes in land use if no standards are established to limit, for example, the scale of any development or its impact on agricultural land. Glamorgan Spring Bay Council will have little control or right of refusal to any development application (DA) proposed by Cambria Green Agricultural and Tourism Management Pty Ltd if it sits within the new SAP rezoning. As no DA has been submitted; the developers have no obligation to implement any of what is “suggested” in the “concept” Masterplan.
Over-development in a pristine coastal setting
The Cambria Green Masterplan Concept (pages 48 to 51) includes the ‘potential to facilitate the following development’: 139 villas and units, wedding and function facilities within the Cambria Homestead Precinct; 161 villas and units along the Meredith River; an 80 unit health retreat and 150 room resort in the Hills Resort Precinct (plus 70 villas and 240 units of tourist accommodation below the Cambria Sky Hotel); a major conference centre; and an 18 + 9 hole golf course with 20 accommodation units.
Social and cultural
The Cambria (Homestead) Village – also described as the Cambrian Culture and Art Town – proposes to create an alternate shopping and cultural centre outside Swansea with shops, cafes, restaurants, pharmacy, galleries, medical facilities and aged care, potentially attracting commercial custom of locals and visitors away from Swansea’s main shopping area. The creation of a ‘town outside a town’ is contrary to the Southern Tasmania Regional Land Use Strategy 2010 – 2035.
Rezoning of agricultural land
Prime agricultural land is valuable. Significant portions of the development area are zoned agriculture, including much of the land proposed to accommodate many hundreds of tourists. The use of this land for tourism is contrary to the State Policy on Protection of Agricultural Land 2009, as demonstrated very clearly in the policy objectives:
To enable the sustainable development of agriculture by minimising:
(a) conflict with or interference from other land uses; and
(b) non-agricultural use or development on agricultural land that precludes the return of that land to agricultural use.
The East Coast around Swansea has a relatively low rainfall. The development would require a significant, readily accessible water supply to maintain the 140-hectare, 27-hole golf course. This is to be located immediately adjacent to the Dolphin Sands aquifer – a vital and precious fresh water supply for residents. Cambria Green has purchased water from the Swan River Irrigation Scheme (largely for tourism purposes, not agriculture) and intends to build dams for storage. This is non-potable water and doesn’t provide for the 550-plus tourist accommodation units proposed.
The SAP would allow several changes to building heights, set-backs and open the way for subdivision. Heights would increase from 5 metres on Dolphin Sands Road and 8.5 metres/2 storeys in Cambria to 12 metres/4 storeys on most development precincts, including the golf course. The SAP would allow any building, including tourist accommodation, to be within 5 metres of a boundary (currently these vary from 20 to 50 metres in the areas proposed for development). The SAP also does not prescribe building materials and colours to be used. The SAP would allow, in some areas, subdivision into much smaller blocks than currently permitted.
This major development has the potential to severely and negatively impact the pristine environment surrounding Swansea. We have on our doorstep a remarkably unspoilt landscape that supports threatened vegetation, highly vulnerable migrating shorebirds and other declining species. Moulting Lagoon is an internationally-recognised RAMSAR wetland potentially affected by pesticide and chemical run-off from the proposed adjacent 27-hole golf course. The Meredith River mouth is critical habitat for nesting shore birds – this sensitive environment is proposed for multiple accommodation units.
The existing small landing ground is located on land zoned Significant Agriculture. The Masterplan describes an ‘improved airstrip to service fly-in guests, provide scenic flights …’, and the developer has stated publicly up to 20 flights per day would be possible. Should an (upgraded) airport eventuate, currently prohibited in this zone in the 2015 GSBC Interim Planning Scheme, the possible intensification of air traffic, noise pollution and increased road traffic will severely impact neighbouring Cambria and Dolphin Sands residents (and vulnerable wildlife). This potential volume of airstrip use is not ancillary, and not commensurate with emergency use only.
The proposal has limited provision for, or detail on, roads and traffic management. Given a development of this scale and intensity, traffic would increase dramatically heightening risk for both people and wildlife. The Traffic Assessment report submitted with the ‘concept’ master plan also refers to Dolphin Sands Road providing frontage access to the holiday home and shack development along its approximate full 13.5km length, this could imply a serious misrepresentation of the current demographic of property owners, with possible underestimation of current road traffic. This would only increase considerably with proposed access to the 27-hole golf course located 5 kilometres along Dolphin Sands Road (already an inadequately maintained road).
The golf course – 27 holes with club house, maintenance buildings and twenty accommodation units requiring servicing (water supply, waste disposal, vehicular access, power supply etc) – is arguably located on the most sensitive land within the entire development. Adjacent to critical bird habitat and the RAMSAR-listed Moulting Lagoon – itself vulnerable to pollution from pesticide and chemical run-off – the 140-hectare golf course plan proposes an entry road that cuts through a Conservation Covenant. The site also includes areas within the Coastal Protection Zone, a sea eagle nesting site (highly sensitive to disturbance) and fairways crossing saltmarsh vegetation listed as threatened (EPBC Act 1999).
To the General Manager, Glamorgan Spring Bay Council,
I wish to make a submission regarding the Cambria Green Specific Area Plan (SAP) and the rezoning and planning amendments it seeks on 3,185 hectares of land around Swansea, Cambria and Dolphin Sands.
I am concerned about the impact this development – one of the largest ever proposed for East Coast Tasmania – will have on the local community, local businesses, farmland and beautiful, unspoiled coastal environment and wildlife.
Glamorgan Spring Bay Council: I am concerned that, if the SAP is approved, Glamorgan Spring Bay Council (GSBC) with have little control and right of refusal over any future development applications submitted from Cambria Green Agriculture and Tourism Pty Ltd. I also understand that Cambria Green Agricultural and Tourism Management Pty Ltd has no obligation to implement any of what is “suggested” in the Masterplan ‘Concept’.
I was alarmed to learn that GSBC Councillors had only four (4) days to read and understand hundreds of pages of complex reports, and yet at the council meeting on 24 April 2018, a motion to defer to allow more time was defeated and the SAP process was approved. My question is: would it not have been better for councillors to have more time to enable a more considered decision, especially given the enormity of this proposal, and its possible impact and ramifications on the community and environment?
A community swamped by uncertain and inappropriate development: Swansea and its surrounding small communities are much loved by residents and visitors alike. People come here to experience untouched nature, discover rare migrating shorebirds and other wildlife, visit local wineries, galleries, museums and cafes. Cambria Green’s vision is to create an independent stand-alone commercial centre outside of the existing commercial centre of Swansea, to build over 550 units of tourist accommodation – including near highly sensitive environments along the Meredith and Swan Rivers – and construct a 27-hole golf course with accommodation close to Moulting Lagoon, an internationally-renowned RAMSAR wetland and critical habitat for numerous bird species.
Loss of agricultural land and water supply: I am also concerned about the rezoning and resumption of large areas of significant agricultural land to allow for a massive, inappropriately-scaled tourist resort. The East Coast of Tasmania does not have a high rainfall. I understand the developers have purchased water from the irrigation scheme – established for agricultural use, not tourism. What guarantees will residents have that their precious Dolphin Sands aquifer will not be drained to maintain a 140-hectare golf course? And where will the potable water come from to supply the tourist accommodation?
Building regulations: I understand the SAP rezoning would allow changes to building heights, set-backs and open the way for subdivision. Heights would increase from 5 metres on Dolphin Sands Road and 8.5 metres/2 storeys in Cambria to 12 metres/4 storeys on most development precincts, including the golf course. The SAP would allow any building, including tourist accommodation, to be within 5 metres of a boundary (currently setbacks vary from 20 to 50 metres in the areas proposed for development). The SAP would allow, in some areas, subdivision into much smaller blocks than is currently permitted.
Airstrip and traffic: The Cambria Green developer has stated publicly up to 20 flights per day would be possible when the small airstrip is upgraded, currently located near Cambria residences. This would lead to an unacceptable intensification of air traffic and noise pollution impacting not only the neighbouring Cambria and Dolphin Sands communities but also its wonderful but often vulnerable wildlife. Traffic servicing the hundreds of accommodation units would also increase dramatically, heightening risk for both people and wildlife, whilst putting even more stress on an already poorly maintained road.
Environmental concerns: The unspoilt nature of East Coast Tasmania is a major drawcard for both Australian and international visitors. Much of this environment, including the plants, animals and birds that call it home is sensitive, with many species listed by government as vulnerable and threatened. Do we really want to destroy the very reason people come here to visit and live by allowing an over-scale, unreasonable and unsustainable development to overwhelm a unique and special part of the world?
I urge the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council and the Tasmanian Planning Commission to consider the inappropriate scale of this development and the impact it will have on the Swansea community and pristine coastal environment if the SAP is approved. Please reject the Cambria Green Specific Area Plan.
Thank you for reviewing my submission.