Last Sunday images and diagrams of the ski jump proposal were hung in the Community Centre foyer and representatives from both State govt and the project management company, Nix Anderson, were on hand to answer questions. Some quick facts:
• 35.5 metres high at its highest point.
• Made of steel (which will be painted).
• There will be 6 jumps in total.
• There will be a larger-than-Olympic sized swimming pool for aerial skiers to land in.
• The facility will be used for training from April to October.
• Access for the public will be limited, but there may be some opportunities for local clubs to use the pool.
• It will take around 9 to 18 months to build (we have conflicting information on this).
• Existing tennis courts will now not be demolished.
• Estimated extra traffic movements – 9 per day.
• Predicted ‘enormous’ economic advantages to the town, but these have not been quantified.
• DA to be lodged in April.
The information session was attended by around 100 locals, and in the days following, the response on Facebook has been unequivocal opposition. A Facebook group called Lennox Head Against The Ski Jump has been formed, a petition has been launched, and the Lennox Head Residents’ Association plans to devote a large section of its April meeting to the topic. (April 3, CWA Hall behind the Community Centre)
Perhaps the most notable feature of the proposal is the sheer size of the jumps, depicted in photos as they will appear from several key locations around Lennox Head, including Pat Morton Lookout, the water tower, the beach adjacent and the Lake. Even officials described it as looking like a large roller coaster, and a space shuttle launch pad.
However, today it has been claimed that a significant error of judgement was made when creating the photos – so that they make the ski jump look a lot bigger than it actually is. Project managers are now busily rectifying this mistake and will release new, ‘more accurate’ photos later in the week. However, the one taken at the beach (above) is accurate and shows the scale of the development.
The Office of Sport have released the following statement about the images:
‘The Office of Sport would like to correct some misinformation about the size and scale of the proposed Lake Ainsworth Olympic Training Centre at Lennox Head.
Images shown at the information session were larger than the proposed size which may have caused unnecessary concern.
Community members will be invited to view an information report following the Information Session and updated imagery to be available next week.’
What our Councillors Say
According to Mayor David Wright, he has been working on this project for 4 years, and believes that it will ‘put Lennox Head on the map’, providing enormous economic benefits and a boost in tourist visitations.
‘No-one can say it’s beautiful,’ he said, ‘but just saying “it’s ugly and we don’t want it” is not a good enough argument’.
Cr Sharon Cadwallader is also enthusiastic about the possible economic advantages, including during construction, when many local trades and services are likely to find employment. But she is more circumspect when it comes to her opinion about the facility.
‘I believe we need to all work together on this one, wait until the DA is lodged and assess it on its merits then,’ she said.
Cr Keith Williams agrees that we need to wait for the DA (due to be lodged this month), but agrees that it seems to be very ‘wrong for the site’ at the ‘natural end of town’ and surrounded by some of our most beautiful natural features.
Cr Jeff Johnson is also ‘very concerned’ about a development like this ‘that is highly visible from the Lake, beach, and Pat Morton Lookout, surrounded by low lying heathland and very close to the beach’. As Deputy Mayor, however, he may be required to sit on the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) where final approval will be given. For this reason, he also says, ‘let’s wait for the DA, and assess it in the proper way.’
‘Lennox Head is under enormous development pressure, and we must all (Council and community) ensure that it is properly and appropriately developed over time,’ he said.
So, from our Councillor’s point of view, it’s wait and see. Yet all of them agree that they will have little say about the final outcome. The lodgement of the DA is almost a mere formality. It will be assessed by Council staff who will advise the JRPP on local planning provisions and controls, but have no real influence. The JRPP will consist of 3 State government representatives, 1 Ballina Shire Council staff member and either the Mayor (David Wright) or Deputy Mayor (Jeff Johnson). They will make the final call.
For Michelle Shearer, who has set up the Lennox Head Against The Ski Jump Facebook page, the proposal is appalling, and many of those who have joined the site and commented, agree.
‘I’ve been calling it the Tower of Terror,’ she said. ‘I just cannot understand why anyone would think that this kind of development is ok on the beachfront in our lovely little coastal town.’
‘And I am also really concerned that once something like this is built at 35m high, that other developers will come along and say ‘look at that big structure, well my little apartment block is only 20m high, so why can’t I build it?! It opens the floodgates to more ugly tall developments that will just ruin the look of our pristine beachfront. The fact that it has even gone this far is beyond me.’
‘They say it will be good for the economics of the town, but why does everything have to be about economics?’
But as one of the project managers said to The Lennox Wave, ‘It’s the “Not In My Backyard” syndrome. You could try to put this anywhere and someone would complain.’