A $380 million integrated Buddhist tourist and residential project, in planning stages since 2008, could finally go ahead after council and state planning authorities approved the concept design and the developer paid its mortgage for the site.   

Designed by Sydney-based Conybeare Morrison architects, the latest version of the masterplan for the 1,248ha “Buddhist Precint” was put to the State’s Independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) back in July 2014 and  promised to be one of the biggest developments in Shoalhaven City’s history.

The full masterplan (see attached), given to the PAC, accommodates a Buddhist Temple Sanctuary, a Kung-Fu Academy, an Agricultural and herbal farm, a 500 bed 4 star hotel, residential developments, small retail, commercial, professional and community services centre, and a 27-hole golf course and clubhouse.

The concept plan was approved by both the Shoalhaven City Council and the NSW state government planning authorities; however the residential component of the project and the golf course were rejected on the advice of the PAC.

The PAC scaled back the development in August 2014 after suggesting there was a potential risk to the area’s water quality in the longer term if the site was cleared for a golf course and that the residential precincts, featuring 300 dwellings, were not integral to the design. 

The project will be developed by China’s Shaolin Temple, an organisation based in China with a reputation for its strong martial arts and Buddhist traditions. Head of the Temple, Abbot Shi Yongxin recently visited Shoalhaven and paid Mayor Joanna Gash the final payment for the land at Comberton Grange. Gash has told the ABC that the final payment meant the project could finally move closer to development.

“The money from China has been transferred to the Shaolin Temple Foundation. We have today received cheques to the full amount," she said.

"That will now allow the project to finally move forward."

 It is anticipated that the construction of the development will be over a five to ten year period and, according to the project application, will be delivered in two stages.

Images: Artist Impressions: South Coast Register. Masterplan and Site Section: NSW Planning and Environment website