Displaying items by tag: mirvac
Mirvac development – who ‘owns’ the forest?
The Mirvac development of the former IBM business park at West Pennant Hills is proceeding. In September 2021 the application to demolish the existing buildings and remove 1,253 trees was approved. This has now been completed despite a lot of community concern about the disturbance to wildlife during the spring breeding season.
In October 2022 Mirvac’s Concept Development Applications for the next stage of the project came before the Sydney City Central Planning Panel. This involved the technicalities of subdividing the land into sections relating to the various types of building – 252 apartments and 165 medium density houses. Plus the removal of another 1,877 trees. There were many objections to the application for a height variation but the Hills Council had no objection to the apartment buildings being eight storeys instead of the LEP standard of six storeys.
So the concept DA has been approved. The only amendments to the conditions of consent related to protection of the Powerful Owls that have a nest site close to development footprint, use of wildlife friendly fencing and fauna sensitive lighting.
Forest in Danger found a big surprise in the documents submitted with the DAs. The future of the 10.3 ha of high quality forest containing critically endangered Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest has been the subject of much controversy. The community believed they had a victory when Mirvac agreed to a Voluntary Planning Agreement dedicating the land to Forestry Corporation NSW so it could be managed as part of the Cumberland State Forest next door. This dedication of the land, defined as the Forest Dedication Land, was believed to be a condition of consent to be approved by the Panel.
Low and behold when the documents were submitted with the DA it was found that the Voluntary Planning Agreement dedicated ownership of the land to the minister for planning and would be only ‘managed’ by Forestry Corporation NSW. Not only that, Mirvac could request that the minister approve a change to the boundaries, and that the minister could approve or refuse the request at their absolute discretion and also request a change. So this land is no longer conserved in perpetuity. It appears that Mirvac can sell off some of the Forest Dedication Land. Forest in Danger has sent an objection.
Full steam ahead for the Mirvac development at West Pennant Hills
In the previous issue of STEP Matters we provided information on what wasn’t happening with the Mirvac development on the IBM site next to Cumberland State Forest.
A local planning panel meeting was finally held on 15 September to determine whether to approve Mirvac’s development application to demolish the IBM buildings and the surrounding vegetation. There was a large number of passionate speakers opposing the DA.
The chief concern was the clearing of 1,253 trees. There is a basic disagreement as to whether most of this area can be classified as Blue Gum High Forest. Mirvac argued that they were planted as part of the creation of the IBM corporate park. Council documents show that most of the trees had naturally regenerated. But then council determined that it is okay to clear them because of other conditions that will be imposed such as biodiversity offsets, dedication of forest on other parts of the site to management by Forestry Corp (that is, to become part of Cumberland State Forest), some weed clearing and planting a measly 60 trees elsewhere.
Unfortunately, the planning panel approved the DA so, no doubt, the demolition will be starting soon. There were some minor amendments to the conditions of consent. There were no definite assurances that the trees would be checked for nesting birds or nocturnal animals before the clearing takes place.
An attempt was also made to get the clearing of Blue Gum High Forest assessed by the federal minister for the environment as a controlled action under the EPBC Act but that was unsuccessful.
Mirvac Development a Threat to Critically Endangered Ecological Communities
The Office of Environment and Heritage has alerted the Hills Council to the fact that the presence of Blue Gum High Forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest, both critically endangered ecological communities are listed as potential ecological communities that meet the principles and criteria for serious and irreversible impact as defined under the Biodiversity Conservation Act. Under this act development consent cannot be granted to proposals that impact on serious and irreversible impact entities.
The Office of Environment and Heritage and an independent ecologist have identified large areas of Blue Gum High Forest within the proposed development footprint and the bushfire asset protection zones.
The Forest in Danger group does not believe that the planning proposal 1/2018/PLP can be approved in its current format. The draft development control plan, the planning proposal and the voluntary planning agreement would have to be re-exhibited.
For more details see previous issue of STEP Matters or the Forest in Danger Facebook page.