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Sunday, 10 September 2017 11:14

Development Proposal Adjoining Cumberland State Forest

Please consider sending a submission opposing Mirvac's rezoning and development proposal for land adjoining Cumberland State Forest in West Pennant Hills to:

  • Minister for the Environment, Gabrielle Upton This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Shadow Minister for Environment, Penny Sharpe This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Minister for Planning This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Hills Shire Council This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Member for Baulkham Hills This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Background

The proposal is to rezone the majority of the 26 hectare site of heavily forested land to R4, high density residential. About 12 hectares on the southern side is of high ecological value containing critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest or endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest. The rest of the site contains many mature trees believed to be over 30 years old.

The initial development plan is to allow for 400 apartments and 200 medium density houses in the northern part of the site with associated tree removal for bushfire protection. The proposed rezoning would allow eventual construction of apartment dwellings plus a recreational area on the entire site with no protective environmental zoning. This is a crucial example of the potential destruction under the NSW government’s new Biodiversity Offset laws.

The government is currently considering whether to give this rezoning proposal its in principle blessing under the Pre-Gateway review process and it is expected to be before the Hills Council before the end of the year.

Draft Submission Points

Thank you for the opportunity to make a submission on the proposed amendment to the Hills Local Environment Plan 2012 to facilitate medium to high density development at 55 Coonara Avenue, West Pennant Hills. This proposal is strongly opposed for the reasons outlined below.

  1. The proposed rezoning to R4 (high density residential) would apply to over 23 hectares that contains critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest and endangered Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest but no protective environmental zoning has been proposed. Any high density development would also destroy Powerful Owl habitats. This owl species is listed as a vulnerable species in NSW. An ecological assessment of the site discovered nesting trees and roosting habitats on, and adjacent to the proposed 28 hectare development.
  2. The initial development plan is to allow for 400 apartments and 200 medium density houses on the northern part of the site. Not only is the proposed development environmentally damaging – it also lacks appropriate infrastructure and amenities, with the nearest public transport link more than a kilometre away up a steep hill. Apart from losing treasured local bushland, neighbouring residents would also have to contend with additional traffic gridlock on local roads, especially Castle Hill Road, as a result of the increased local population.
  3. The bulk of this land should be rezoned as E2 for environmental conservation with strong protections for mature trees on any part of the site rezoned residential. We want this beautiful rare forest to be protected, not bulldozed for high-density apartments.

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