Jacaranda Grove (formerly Grafton Gateway) residents Dorothy Chorley, Sue Jacquin and Kay Martin.
Jacaranda Grove (formerly Grafton Gateway) residents Dorothy Chorley, Sue Jacquin and Kay Martin. TIM JARRETT

Housing giant responds to caravan park concerns

A US housing giant at the centre of a development controversy in Grafton has responded to resident concerns.

Yesterday a number of residents from Jacaranda Grove (formerly Grafton Gateway) spoke out against Hometown Australia's plans to convert their caravan park into a manufactured housing estate.

The residents were unhappy the first they heard of plans to replace 62 short term sites with manufactured homes was after the development application was submitted.

A spokesperson for Hometown Australia said they met with the Homeowner Committee - an elected body representing residents - twice, outlining their plans and asking for feedback.

"No objections to the development were tabled by the HOC, with only minor suggested changes which were taken on-board by the HTA-development team," the spokesperson said.

"Given the HOC is elected by the residents to reflect the needs and concerns of the community, the HTA-development team felt it reasonable to interpret the support of the HOC as a reflection of community support."

Not so, says resident Sharon Beighon who said on an issue of such significance, residents should have been consulted.

"This is a huge development that is going to affect everybody," she said.

"We should have got some sort of notification that this is the plan so the residents could have had a say.

"If I had known this was going to happen I wouldn't have moved in and if this goes through I will be selling up because I don't want to see this park destroyed for the sake of another 57 homes."

The spokesperson for Hometown said they were "very surprised to learn of resident concerns" and met with some of them on March 17.

"We acknowledge the concerns and are willing to have more discussions with all residents, noting that reasonable requests for changes to the development concept will be considered," the spokesperson said.

"Modified plans can be submitted to council during the assessment process, so we urge residents to communicate with the HTA team and a response will be provided."

Hometown also responded to residents' concerns the removal of short term accommodation would have a detrimental affect on the wider community.

Hometown emphasised the importance of a permanent population base to the local economy - something that could be achieved with the addition of new housing.

"New homes and permanent residents add to the local economy and employment opportunities for local trades, building suppliers and contractors," the spokesperson said.

"As noted in the DA, providing opportunities for people to downsize into an established, well-located community is important for the economy as it provides an opportunity for families and workers to access local housing.

"And allows the local ageing population to remain secure and central to services and service providers."