There is a parcel of land at the end of Chestnut Road, Mt Colah that has been privately owned for years. It is just below a playing field that was built on a former landfill site. Pollutants have been leaching out of the tip into the creek below. Nevertheless, the land has some high quality bushland and borders on Berowra Valley National Park.
The landowner submitted a subdivision plan for the land that would have created 49 housing lots on the 4.4 ha sloping site. The process has been ongoing since 2017 as Hornsby Council has requested further documentation and an EPA investigation was required of gas from the former landfill site.
Hornsby Council recommended refusal mainly on the grounds that most trees would be cleared, and major landform modifications would be required. Over 100 objections have been submitted by local residents on the grounds of site contamination, overdevelopment, traffic, parking and safety impacts, tree loss, flora and fauna impacts, acoustic impacts and unacceptable impacts on the catchment of the Berowra Valley National Park.
In October the DA went before the Local Planning Panel. It is a great relief that the Panel unanimously decided on rejection because the proposal did not comply with many principles of the urban bushland policies and the Hornsby Development Control Plan.
What happens next is not clear. Could some or all of the land be added to Berowra Valley National Park?
Hornsby Council is undertaking a four-month review at a cost of $70,000 into potential rezoning and acquisition of land in Byles Creek Valley that is currently unprotected. Council has come to this conclusion in all reviews and reports in the past.
In 2014 Hornsby Council made a very comprehensive submission to the NSW government pushing for acquisition of Byles Creek Valley land in 2014. In this document council’s expert environmental team stated that:
The Byles Creek catchment has been identified as environmentally significant due to the unique environmental values of the area … The preservation of these lands provides connectivity between the significant vegetation corridor along Byles Creek and Lane Cove National Park. The connectivity of this corridor ensures the ability for species to disperse between reserves and the national park and for the transferral of genetic material. The conservation value of this corridor is further emphasised by its inclusion as a core area in the NSW Biodiversity Investment Opportunities Map as part of the NSW government’s Green Corridors Program.
The valley is noted for the high quality of the water in the Creek that flows into the Lane Cove River. It is used as a reference standard for water quality in the shire.
As a member of the Powerful Owl Coalition, STEP strongly supports the protection of the valley as it links with breeding habitat for the Powerful Owl.
Our thanks to the Byles Creek Valley Union for this information.