“What they’re saying is our history is of way less value than a dunnart, which doesn’t even live on our land anymore.”
And remarkably, there’s a suggestion that the National Parks and Wildlife Service was originally offered the land awarded to ULALC, and didn’t want it because it was of little conservation value, and adjoined an already developed residential area.
You might think that having finally won over National Parks and the Department of Planning, ULALC’s and Malbec’s plans for a major residential development things might race ahead.
By the time ULALC got the project through the state government, five years had expired since NSWALC had given approval to develop the land.
“The valuation was old and out of date,” says Shane. That original valuation had the land worth $9,990,000. But factor in a global financial crisis, a crash in land prices on the South Coast, and the loss of 40 percent of the land as a conservation zone, and ULALC was left with a valuation of just $3.1 million, less than one-third of the original price.
“We could only keep the original approval if the land valuation stayed the same, and obviously our joint venture partners weren’t going to pay $10 million for the land if it’s now only worth $3 million.
“So we had to redo all the NSWALC approvals.”
But that wasn’t the only problem.
Not only was the development now worth far less, but the ULALC’s Community Land and Business Plan (CLBP) – basically the core document of a LALC which governs its plans for the next four years – is also at its use-by-date.
“Our whole CLBP was written around us making the money from this development.
“The employment programs we wanted to run from it, the housing plans, the education trust, a new office for the LALC, a language program – we needed money from the development to do everything we wanted to do.
“In the end, the only thing we were able to do was a sporting and education trust, from the land sales from minor properties.
“The CLBP is now at the end of its life and we haven’t achieved five out of the nine goals, which were completely dependent on getting this land deal through.”
So in 2010, Shane and the Ulladulla LALC dusted themselves off, and started again.
“We went and got new valuations. We had to go through the whole rigmarole of having meetings, drawing up new contracts.
“It’s taken another couple of years with a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing on prices.”
And finally, in 2012 – 12 years after they first began – ULALC are finally on the verge of realising their dream.
“We’re now hoping to do some advertising for the sale of some of the blocks of land in September, just to let people know it exists and it’s finally going to happen.
“We’re not 100 percent sure when the first earth will get turned… some time in the new year, depending on certain thing happening.”
NSWALC has already approved ULALCs new plans, at a full council meeting earlier this year.
“We’ve still got to get approval from the Shoalhaven City Council, but that shouldn’t be anywhere near as hard, hopefully, as getting approval from the Department of Planning.”
On the upside, the development is now poised to begin. The revised project is a 104-lot development. Stage One will see the release of 14 blocks of land, with sizes ranging from 500sqm to 700sqm.
In later stages, lot sizes grow to an impressive 1,750sqm.
Stage One will see the 14 lots cleared, and is expected to take several months. It will include roads, kerb and guttering, street lights, water and sewerage.
It’s expected to generate local employment for Aboriginal workers, and ULALC is looking to add value to the deal by selling timber for firewood.
With things finally moving again, Shane is circumspect about the battles he had to endure for more than a decade to get a relatively simply land development through.