The sleepy Lennox Head surfing hamlet on the North Coast of NSW is waking up to an almighty fight against the State Government and Office of Sport.
The Office of Sport, last week, lodged a DA proposing the development of a 12-storey ski jump – a development that dwarfs all local and regional buildings (2 storey building limit in Lennox Head and surrounds).
Their plan is to plonk the jump at the Lennox Head Sport and Rec Camp where it will loom out of an otherwise pristine coastline. The jump would be made available to a very small number of elite athletes a year.
Rejected twice by QLD State government in 2012 for a lack of quantifiable social and economic benefits to the surrounding communities, Lennox Head now faces a battle royale. The QLD Premier at the time of the rejection is quoted as saying:
“I have no hesitation in cancelling this project, which was approved and progressed using some of the most financially unsound reasoning I’ve seen.
“With no credible business case to speak of and no tangible usage agreements, all this scheme would have achieved was to put a brand new pool off limits for actual swimmers.”
“According to what little information there is available, potential usage indicates that very few elite athletes would have used it for training purposes. “
The DA has been submitted by the Office of Sport to the local Ballina Shire Council, who will not have the final say as to whether the Olympic ski jump will go ahead. The proposal will go to the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel for a final decision – who has a track record of approving 98% of proposals put before it.
The panel will consist of two Ballina Councillors – one of whom has worked on the ski jump project for the past four years and is a vocal supporter – and three State reps.
Jindabyne Sport and Recreation Camp was shortlisted for the jump and is confounded as to why the jump can’t go there when the community is strongly in favour.
The Lennox Head community has had a number of fires to fight on all fronts in recent months including how to deal with a spike in the number of shark attacks in the region, surf cams and major bush fires. Whilst some of these issues have caused division, the issue of the ski jump has galvanised the community.
Lennox Head Against the Ski Jump Action Group Spokesperson, Michelle Shearer, says of the jump:
“This 12 storey steel ski jump is utterly inappropriate for a surfing village with pristine coastline enjoyed and valued by residents and visitors alike. Whilst we sympathise with the plight of our Olympic skiers, this simply is not the right place. Some locals have compared it to Cape Canaveral.
Visual aesthetics to one side (if that’s possible), the DA cites social and economic benefits to the local community yet really don’t provide any evidence of this – we note that this development was
rejected by QLD State Government on similar grounds yet they are trying to sell these factors to a tiny regional surfing hamlet.
Our action group consists of town planners, lawyers, architects and communications pros and all members are extremely passionate local Lennox Head residents who will do whatever it takes to stop this preposterous proposal.”
The validity of the community consultation process held by the Office of Sport is under question when it rejected its very own photos then issued them again, zooming out on the jump. The Office of Sport held the session at the same time as a community fundraising event raising money for local volunteer fire people who had recently worked tirelessly to keep a serious bushfire away from the village.
Lennox Head Against the Ski Jump has a Facebook page with reach over 30,000 and an online petition of well over 1,000 signatures. 31 objections have been received by Council to date.
- A permanent eyesore seen from every vantage point in Lennox despoiling our natural assets
- 38 metres above ground level (13 storeys)
- Location: Lake Ainsworth Sport and Rec Camp, Lennox Head
- Rejected by QLD govt in 2012 for not demonstrating economic/social benefit towider community
- Larger-than-Olympic sized swimming pool for skiers to be built in this sensitivelocation
- Only used for training April to Oct, by approx. 10 Olympians and the odd juniorteam.
- VERY limited access for public and sporting groups DA has been lodged.
Likely to go ahead unless serious opposition is madeOnline Petition: http://bit.ly/2nSCHfB
Facebook Page: http://bit.ly/2phRIZQ
DA: http://da.ballina.nsw.gov.au/pages/xc.track/searchapplication.aspx?id=010.2017.000 00216.001
Feature photo thanks to Natalie Grono