Locals are asking questions after a proposal to build a mansion on a beach which has suffered rapid erosion after a severe storm last year.
Locals are asking questions after a proposal to build a mansion on a beach which has suffered rapid erosion after a severe storm last year.

Fight over proposed mansion on eroding beach

Plans to build a luxury beachfront mansion on a rapidly eroding beach, far closer to the waves than recommended, have left locals furious they might be asked to pay millions to protect the home from rising seas.

Wamberal on the Central Coast became famous last year following a July storm that left part of three homes falling into the sea and damaged many others.

While construction started this week on a seawall along Collaroy beach on Sydney's Northern Beaches, residents along Ocean View Dr at Wamberal face an anxious wait for a solution.

 

Damaged houses on the eroded coast line at Wamberal on the Central Coast. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Damaged houses on the eroded coast line at Wamberal on the Central Coast. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

 

"The plans really need to be published about what's going to be done and what the options are for the beach so that we can progress," homeowner and Ocean View Dr residents' advocate Margaret Brice said.

"This is not just about houses on the beach, this is about the whole of Wamberal.

"If the dune is breached it will damage the whole suburb."

The cost of constructing the emergency protection works at Wamberal beach and The Entrance North beach has totalled more than $2.8m.

The council - under administration with more than $565m debt - received $992,501 in state government funding for Wamberal only.

 

Residents advocate Margaret Brice has called for plans for the beach to be made public. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Residents advocate Margaret Brice has called for plans for the beach to be made public. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

 

About 4000 tonnes of imported sand, 2300 tonnes of quarried rock and 1100 tonnes of rock-filled flexible bags are now in place following emergency works in 2020.

Despite these concerns of further erosion, however, one property owner lodged a development application in December to build a $1.7 million "luxury mansion" across two vacant lots.

The three-storey property, 350m from the worst of the erosion, would be built about 5m closer to the waves than the council's official building line.

Coastal engineers have argued "there are extensive, very stiff and hard clays at the subject properties that can be considered to be resilient against erosion/scour during a storm event".

 

Damage to Wamberal Beach and the houses along it after the storm. Picture: AAP Image/Sue Graham
Damage to Wamberal Beach and the houses along it after the storm. Picture: AAP Image/Sue Graham

 

Yet one anonymous council submission said that proposition is ridiculous.

"With climate change increasing the frequency and severity of major storms and erosion events ... who can confidently predict how structures, foundations, piers and the surrounding soils will behave," the submission said.

"I do not want to see loud demands for the Central Coast Council to build/fund a revetment wall to protect the owner's private assets and maintain the luxury mansion."

 

The erosion threat came after huge seas battered Wamberal Beach. Picture: Facebook
The erosion threat came after huge seas battered Wamberal Beach. Picture: Facebook

 

The development application remains under assessment, while a decision on a permanent seawall structure has not been made.

Meanwhile, a vocal group of locals say building a wall may save homes but it will destroy the sand.

Hugh Naven of Save Our Sand said: "There's no middle ground, it's either erode the beach and save the houses or save the beach and lose the houses."

Originally published as Fight over proposed mansion on eroding beach


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