Monday, June 17, 2024

Northern Beaches rejects planning authority for 400-home development

Sydney’s Northern Beaches Council has rejected an offer to be the Planning Proposal Authority for a plan that would see more than 400 homes constructed on local bushfire-prone land.

Council says it has long opposed the planning proposal to develop land at ‘Lizard Rock’ along Morgan Road in Belrose, citing destruction of natural bushland among a range of concerns.

Northern Beaches Mayor, Michael Regan said the planning proposal by Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) did not demonstrate strategic or site-specific merit and should be rejected.

“Council refuses to be involved in the progression of this planning proposal that would see more than 400 homes built in precious bushland, putting residents in extreme bushfire risk,” Mayor Regan said.

“As I’ve repeatedly said, Council one hundred percent 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, but we have to consider proposals on their merits.”

Northern Beaches Mayor, Michael Regan.

In April last year following a Council Resolution, Council wrote to Federal and State ministers to negotiate an alternate solution and financial model to enable the MLALC to benefit financially from its land and so that the land could be preserved in its current state – in perpetuity.

“It’s absurd that the government would allow the destruction of around 45 football size fields of bushland to build 400 plus homes surplus to any housing targets,” Mayor Regan said.

“We are declining the government’s offer to become the Planning Proposal Authority on Lizard Rock as the role is unlikely to give Council any meaningful powers to review the proposal or prevent it from going ahead for Gateway determination.” 

In its submission to the Department of Planning and Environment, Council warned that the planning proposal was inconsistent with local and regional planning strategies and should be reconsidered in light of significant planning, environmental and hazard issues, including:

  • 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 onto Forest Way, and a new emergency access on to Oates Place, but the availability and utility of these aspects has not been demonstrated.
  • 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
  • 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.

Mayor Regan said there had been limited explanation from the State Government on how the Sydney North Strategic Planning Panel came to the decision to submit the planning proposal for a Gateway determination.

“The community has really been left in the dark as to why and how this proposal is going ahead,” Mayor Regan said.

“There’s been no detailed justification as to how the Panel reached its conclusion and no meaningful discussion on the concerns and issues that Council and the community has repeatedly raised.

“We strongly urge the government to reconsider its position on a planning proposal that just doesn’t stack up.”

Council says it will officially notify the Planning Panels Secretariat that it is declining the offer to be the Planning Proposal Authority. 

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