A group of around 200 people gathered at Crescent Head on Sunday to protest against the foreshore and Holiday Park future design plans.
Kempsey Shire Council moved a recommendation at the October 2020 council meeting that gave in principal support to Option A of the foreshore carpark design proposals, allowing for further design changes in the future.
A recommendation was put to councillors at the March 2021 meeting to decide on the 10 year concept plans for the Macleay Valley Coast Holiday Parks. The item put to councillors included a recommended plan for six cabins along the eastern boundary of the site to improve interface between the public domain and the Holiday Park.
A procedural motion was moved at last month's council meeting to defer any further decision on the changes to annual licence sites and the 10 year concept plans for the Macleay Valley Coast Holiday Parks until the April 2021 meeting.
Some locals believe the plan for cabins on the eastern boundary of the Holiday Park will also mean the removal of the foreshore carpark.
"This is a surfing reserve for a reason. If we rip the carpark out, it will be like ripping the heart and soul out of the community," protest organiser Joshua Dennis said.
"The elderly and the disabled won't be able to drive up and sit in their cars and watch the surf.
"The loss of car parks will also cause problems. It's already congested and is always full."
"What we really want is a holistic plan for the whole foreshore."
Four Kempsey Shire Councillors, including Leo Hauville, Bruce Morris, Mark Baxter and deputy mayor Anthony Patterson attended the protest. Mayor Liz Campbell gave her apologies as she wasn't able to attend due to other commitments.
Councillor Hauville spoke at the protest and highlighted the role council plays when making difficult decisions that impact the community.
"We are here to listen to you and we are taking on board the concerns," he said.
"We have to make the right decisions for the community. We are happy to listen and we encourage people to contact us and tell us your thoughts."
Deputy mayor Anthony Patterson said adopting the carpark future design plan in principal at the October council meeting allows council to move forward while also allowing for further design changes.
"You can't make progress without a plan. This is an iconic spot and I believe the whole area needs to be designed in a holistic way," he said.
"We should be asking the State Government to allow us to design this space as a whole area.
"It is good to be here and to listen to this part of the community," Cr Patterson added.
Councillor and Crescent Head resident Mark Baxter said stage three of the Master Plan for Crescent Head, which includes the foreshore car park, won't be implemented for a number of years.
"It's going to take six to eight years for that part of the plan to be implemented, which leaves a lot of time for further consultation with the community," he said.
"The protest is an example of the angst in the community regarding the whole foreshore area plans. I think the best outcome from this protest is the desire for a holistic planning approach for the foreshore."
Local resident and Kemspey Crescent Head Surf Lifesaving Club member Evelyn Jacobs has been a member of the community for 42 years and said the proposed plans for the caravan park will change the feel of the seaside village.
"I have heard people say they won't be able to afford to stay in the Holiday Park next year because it's too expensive. This is a camping area, people come here for that sort of holiday, not cabins," she said.
"It won't be a little family community anymore, we don't want it to be another Byron Bay."
Vice president of the Dunghutti Elders Council Joanne Smith said they are open to working with council on future design plans.
"We want everyone to be happy with the development plans and want to work towards achieving that in the community," she said.
Organisers of the protest, Maria Johnson and Joshua Dennis, thanked the community and councillors for attending the event.
"We want the best outcome for everyone and a decent plan for this area," Joshua said.
A recommendation regarding the 10 year concept plans for the Macleay Valley Coast Holiday Parks will be put to councillors at the April council meeting.
Locals can view the documents regarding the 10 year concept plans on council's website.
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