Thursday, February 22, 2024

Northern Beaches rejects Aboriginal Land Council bid for housing development

Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council is opposing a planning proposal that it says would see the “complete destruction” of local natural bushland for the provision of more than 400 homes.

Council says the planning proposal for ‘Lizard Rock’ along Morgan Road in Belrose is inconsistent with local and regional planning strategies and should be reconsidered in light of significant planning, environmental and hazard issues.

In its submission to the Department of Planning and Environment, Council said the Planning Proposal by Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) does not demonstrate strategic or site specific merit and should be rejected.

Mayor, Michael Regan said the NSW Government should find alternative ways to support Aboriginal self-determination instead of allowing inappropriate development on bushfire-prone land.

“Council 100% supports the intent of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act and appreciates the importance of enabling Aboriginal people to achieve economic self-determination through developing land,” Mayor Regan said.

“But we are required to consider all proposals on their merits, regardless of the landowner, and this proposal does not stack up.

“We have numerous, significant concerns about this planning proposal. This is 400 plus homes in the middle of the bush, not connected to any services, surplus to any housing targets set by the State, that will exacerbate existing shortfalls in the provision of community floorspace for libraries and active open space for sports fields, and destroy around 45 football size fields of bushland. Not to mention, it puts future inhabitants in an extreme bushfire risk.”

In its submission, Council outlined the following concerns with the Lizard Rock planning proposal:

  • Inconsistency with strategy – the planning proposal does not demonstrate strategic merit and is inconsistent with key aspects of the Greater Sydney Region Plan, North District Plan, Northern Beaches Local Strategic Planning Statement – Towards 2040 and Northern Beaches Local Housing Strategy.
  • Non-compliant process – there has been no formal pre-lodgement consultation with Council on the planning proposal which is required in this circumstance.
  • Short consultation timeframe – the 28-day timeframe to review the application and associated technical reports for a complex proposal and prepare a meaningful response is unreasonable.
  • Significant inconsistencies within the planning proposal documentation itself, including variously referring to 450 ‘dwellings’ and 450 ‘lots’ which has the potential to create double or triple that number of dwellings if seniors housing and dual occupancy is permitted.
  • Inconsistency with Conservation Zones Reform which recommends applying a C3 Environmental Management Zone to most of the site due to its high environmental value and the hazards that impact the site.
  • Enormous loss of high biodiversity habitat, with 44.7 hectares of bushland to be cleared (equivalent to the size of around 45 rugby fields) for the new development.
  • Bushfire risks – significant concerns exist regarding the bushfire hazard that applies to the site. Further, the proposal was developed on the premise of evacuation being provided by Morgan Road, a new slip lane on to Forest Way and a new emergency access on to Oates Place, but the availability and utility of these aspects has not been demonstrated.

“The community has only been given 28 days to comment on this fast-tracked proposal prior to a Gateway decision being made , which bypasses Council,” Mayor Regan said.

“We urge the Department of Planning and Environment to take a close look at our long list of concerns and carefully consider this planning proposal.”

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