Key tourist site’s plan

The long awaited Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan was adopted by council at last week’s monthly meeting with councillor Steve Klipin stating the document was “the gold standard in stewardship”.

The sign-off signalled the end of a lengthy engagement period that saw many community groups, particularly the Gleniffer Community Association (GCA), and individuals offer feedback and thoughts.

The final hurdle for the plan came from Cr David Scott, which delayed the report from January until March, looking at key points not clearly addressed pre- viously.

These were:

– The toilet facilities and car parking at Earl Preston Reserve

The council identified that it would be pertinent to utilise the existing toilet facilities at Gleniffer Hall rather than build a new toilet block (due to the impact on the aesthetics of Earl Preston Reserve and the cost impost in terms of both construction and maintenance).

In response to council’s enquiry around the possibility of re-opening the Gleniffer Hall toilets, the GCA identified issues that need to be discussed and considered by council, but can be dealt with in consultation with the community when the Earl Preston Plan of Management is undertaken.

While car parking infrastructure at Earl Preston Reserve has been proposed by the Master Plan, drainage infrastructure needs to be a key consideration.

– Car parking (including the cattle grid) at Arthur Keogh Reserve

The plan’s consultants have outlined that a pedestrian grid can be installed in place of the cattle grid. This solution provides safe access for pedestrians and alleviates the need for drainage infrastructure.

Council’s inspection of this reserve also identified the potential risk to the public of the electric fence on the northern boundary of this reserve.

The Plan of Management for Arthur Keough Reserve will investigate options to mitigate risks to the public by way of, for example, improved signage.

– Picnic facilities at Angel Gabriel Caparero Reserve

The plan was adjusted to remove picnic tables from this Reserve. Consultants have now proposed that some public seating be installed within the arboretum – which is at a greater distance from the river.

This solution reduces the impact of flood damage yet still provides some public amenity.

The provision of refuse bins throughout the area covered by the Master Plan

The Master Plan now recommends no provision for refuse bins.

Instead, there will be educative prompts for visitors around the responsible management and removal of rubbish from the reserves.

In reviewing, council said, “it is important to note that the Gleniffer Master Plan is an overarching document that primarily provides a vision for the reserves.

“The plan will serve as a guide and reference to ensure there is
continuity and consistency in the way each reserve is managed and developed. While the plan looks at constraints and priorities, it does not aim to establish detailed strategies.

“Specific Plans of Management will need to be prepared for each reserve to ensure appropriate planning and environmental factors are considered.”

In total the Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan will cost council $257,052.

It was devised after the tourist destination’s popularity increased via word of mouth, social media promotion and advertising by local businesses, attracting an increasing number of visitors to the area.

The council report notes:

“The Gleniffer Reserves represent an area of high environmental, social and cultural value.

“The area adjoins Dorrigo National Park, which has World Heritage status. This increasing rate of visitation is having a negative impact on the environment. The plan addresses ways to protect the environment and reduce the impacts from increasing visitation.

“It identifies the need to determine the carrying capacity of each reserve prior to any further mass media promotion of the area.

“The plan outlines ways to influence behaviour of visitors through a range of strategies.”

Alice Burnet | The Bellingen Courier Sun | 30th March 2016

Gleniffer Master Plan delayed while council talks amenities

It’s a tourist hot-spot, and if this summer’s anything to go by, it’s only going to get busier, yet the vexed problem of how to cater for the masses at Gleniffer is proving challenging for Bellingen Shire Council.

A crew from Coffs Harbour enjoy Gleniffer’s rivers. The area is gaining in popularity and council is uncertain as to how to best cater for the masses.

The issue is not a new one and it was hoped the long-awaited, nearly $260,000 Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan would set out a course for sensible management of the area.

However, at last week’s council meeting councillor David Scott threw a slight spanner in the works by moving to delay the Master Plan’s passage through Local Government.

The motion requested five additional points to be addressed by council employees:

– the toilet facilities and car parking at Earl Preston Reserve
– car parking (including the cattle grid) at Arthur Keogh Reserve
– picnic facilities at Angel Gabriel Caparero Reserve
– the provision of refuse bins throughout the area covered by the Master Plan and
– an update of the graphics within the report.

In essence, the councillors’ concerns merely reflect what locals have been highlighting for years, namely excrement and environmental damage, and which are not explicitly addressed in the Master Plan.

This apparent oversight was not just Cr Scott’s beef either – Cr Gordon Manning spoke frankly of his unease regarding the plan.

“I have concerns about people shitting in the river and I do not think these have been answered,” Cr Manning said

“I don’t understand how this has not been addressed … there is just no solution in the report.”

Given the cost of building and maintaining toilets, Cr Desmae Harrison asked, “where is the money going to come from?”.

Cr Manning suggested “trialling port-a-loos during the peak summer period to see if that could be part of the solution”.

Council’s Michael Grieve responded to councillors’ queries by saying the Master Plan focussed on “information and education as the key strategy to addressing people’s toilet habits” and “it was a controversial issue regarding toilets … many for and against”.

He also noted once council “endorses a precinct” it encourages people to a central place and there are “consequences that come with that”.

Another aspect touched upon was Forestry Corporation’s Tuckers Nob State Forest, which surrounds the four council reserves. Though council staff were quick to stress “we have a good relationship with Forestry” the dichotomy of control means even the best practice document relies on State Government cooperation.

At the very least, it flags that people can park and camp free, and amenities are not closely available.

Or to put it another way, rubbish and folk’s faeces can wash down the river or lay by the roadside, thereby negating council’s best endeavours for hygiene.

Concluding the discussion, Mayor Mark Troy said he was “concerned the already lengthy engagement process was being extended further” but conceded it was important to get the document right.

Thus the motion was carried unanimously and an additional report, to be tabled at April’s council meeting, will be prepared to address the councillors’ queries.

The Gleniffer Master Plan acts as an overarching document with focus on five key themes:

1. Visitor numbers, sustainability and cultural heritage

2. Riverine environmental improvement

3. Reserve amenity values – infrastructure and maintenance

4. Managing positive visitor behaviour and

5. Local management amenity impacts.

A key finding of the plan is the recommendation to establish what has been termed as the Gleniffer Stewardship Advisory Group. It is anticipated that this group would guide the implementation of the Gleniffer Reserves Master Plan, provide advice to council and steer ongoing commitment to the protection, preservation and sustainability of the reserves. Implementation of the plan is proposed to be staged and priorities have been set within the plan with probable costings and suggested funding sources (including grants) linked to each.

Alice Burnet | The Bellingen Courier Sun | 15th November 2014

Visitor boom prompts need for Gleniffer Reserves Masterplan

Feedback is sought from the Bellingen Shire community about their thoughts on the Gleniffer Reserves Masterplan.

Residents have until Friday, December 19, to express views.

The four Gleniffer Reserves are adjacent to private properties and next to the World Heritage Area of Dorrigo National Park and Tuckers Nob State Forests and have been enjoyed by the community for generations.

In recent years, promotion tourism organisations and local word of mouth has resulted in the area becoming increasingly popular.

Gleniffer residents have reported a large increase in visitation levels to a point where it is impacting on the natural environment and local amenity.

Local residents have been caring for the reserves for many years by maintaining the amenities and restoring the environment.

However, the level of visitors now using the reserves exceeds the capacity of locals to care for them.

A consultant team led by Fisher Design and Architecture has been engaged by the council to facilitate community consultation and develop the masterplan.

Input should be provided via the Gleniffer Reserves feedback form which is available from the council administrative centre or downloaded from

Coffs Coast Advocate | 15th November 2014

Clubhouse upgrade given the thumbs up

Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club’s alterations and additions have been approved by Coffs Harbour City councillors with no comment on an objection that the design was a repeat of the 1950s clubhouse.

Cr Garry Innes asked for clarification on the above-regulation height of a small section of the building and was told it was 10.14m, with the existing building 9.14m and the proposed extra height was due to the site dropping away.

Objections about the lack of parking were aired, with Cr Keith Rhoades asking for investigation into the boundary between Fourth Ave and the coastal reserve north of the surf club entrance in an attempt to squeeze in a few more parking spaces.

Cr Bob Palmer said other surf clubs faced the same parking problem because of their beachside locations.

An attempt by Cr Keith Rhoades to question the club’s business plan, grant funding and planned completion date was firmly quashed by the mayor and Cr Palmer.

The mayor said the councillors were voting on a development application, not the club’s finances and Cr Palmer said the councillors did not ask other developers for their business plans.

Coffs Coast Advocate | 28th August 2015

Surf club redevelopment up for discussion

THE Sawtell Surf Life Saving Club is one step away from receiving a multi-million-dollar makeover.

A development application to restore and expand the club will be considered at tomorrow’s Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

Built by the community 35 years ago, the current structure is struggling to meet the club’s needs and limits club growth.

A sticking point will be height restrictions, as plans put the redevelopment at 10.14 metres above ground level – 1.64 metres above accepted levels.

Clause 4.6 of the council’s Local Environmental Plan 2013, however, allows for a degree of flexibility, and a council assessment of the proposal has considered the variation as “reasonable”.

SLSC committee member Garry Murray is one of many pioneers of the proposal, and remained confident approval would be granted.

“The main idea is to really bring the surf club into the 21st century,” he said.

“We’ve been looking at several compliance requirements and maintenance issues, so this is an opportunity to think about a more substantial upgrade, given the building has been there since the 1980s.”

The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.5-$2million dollars, and includes an expansion of the club’s cafe, renovations to change rooms and the function room, and a new entry.

The paved seating area would also be modified to facilitate outdoor dining, and outdoor showers are proposed for the southern side of the beach access.

Vice-president Sheena McTackett said the redevelopment would accommodate growth for the club, which has 400 members, and would “create a public building the community can be proud of”.

David Barwell |Coffs Coast Advocate | 26th August 2015