November 6 - 12, 2022: Issue 561


NSW Government 'fast-tracks' destruction of endangered wildlife, habitat for local species and community consultation on massive new developments - lizard rock proposal for 450 dwellings lodged with NSW department of Planning

Wombat in Belrose, February 2022. Video supplied.
The Northern Beaches Council has received Notice from the NSW Department of Planning that the department has received a planning proposal for the Lizard Rock site, on Morgan Road, Belrose. The proposal was submitted by GYDE Consulting on behalf of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC).

The proposal has been submitted with supporting studies. The NSW Department of Planning states that these studies respond to key issues raised by the local community during public exhibition of the Northern Beaches Aboriginal Land Development Delivery Plan (DDP).

These documents are available at:

The Planning Proposal seeks to:

  • transfer the Site from Warringah Local Environmental Plan 2000 to Warringah Local Environmental Plan 2011 and implement standard instrument zones
  • amend the applicable local planning controls to accommodate up to 450 new residential dwellings
  • secure additional permitted uses within the zone for residential land uses such as dual occupancies and seniors housing, as well as community facilities
  • introduce maximum building heights (8.5 metres)
  • introduce a range of small, medium to large residential lot sizes
  • a cultural community centre and neighbourhood services to be located within the proposed B1 zone, including potential neighbourhood shops or supermarkets, food and drink premises, medical centre, offices premises and/or childcare facilities to be located within close proximity to new residents and the cultural site, offering high amenity for locals and visitors

The subject property is approximately 71 hectares in size. The proposal states it will retain 6.9 hectares of native vegetation.

The Planning Proposal proposes to rezone areas to C2 Environmental Conservation in approximately 19.8 hectares in size across the south and east of the property. The C2 zone, formerly the E2 zone, is generally intended to protect land that has high conservation value. A number of land uses considered to be inappropriate for this zone have been mandated as prohibited uses.

The project would exceed the NSW Biodiversity Offset Scheme on both the map and area thresholds. The Preliminary Biodiversity Development Assessment Report made available has listed some of the endangered species on the site but has not listed those who live adjacent know are present.

The BDAR acknowledges it is a preliminary document prepared for the purpose of a Planning Proposal.

The document states that ''The subject land does not contain any threatened ecological communities listed under either the NSW BC Act or Commonwealth EPBC Act.''

One threatened plant species, Tetratheca glandulosa, has been recorded at several locations within the subject land. However the BDAR finds that some uncertainty remains with regard to the presence of several other threatened plants species, one of which, Cryptostylis hunteriana, has been assumed present until additional field surveys can be conducted.

The BDAR also states that a large number of threatened fauna species are predicted to occur or have been recorded within the subject land. Two species credit species are known to be present - the Red-crowned Toadlet Pseudophryne australis, and the Eastern Pygmy-possum Cercartetus nanus.

Numerous other locally threatened species of wildlife are within the site.

''It has been assumed for this assessment that the draft Structure Plan would directly impact all native vegetation present within the subject land (the development footprint).'' the BDAR states.

The NSW Department of Planning states that the MLALC undertook early scoping with key agencies, including Transport for NSW, Sydney Water, Telstra, the Environment and Heritage Group and Schools Infrastructure NSW.

Copies of the proposal and the supporting studies have been provided to Northern Beaches Council for comment.

The NSW Planning Department will then prepare a report for independent review by the North District Strategic Planning Panel (the panel) in December 2022. This report will include any comments received from Northern Beaches Council.

The panel will review the proposal and make a recommendation to the Minister for Planning and Homes Anthony Roberts (or delegate) on whether the proposal should be submitted for Gateway determination.

If the proposal proceeds, it will be publicly exhibited for a minimum of 28 days in 2023 giving the community and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide feedback.

The local council is not the only one that has had its powers to oversee major local developments taken over by the NSW Department of Planning.

On Wednesday November 2nd 2022 reappointed Minister for Planning Anthony Roberts announced the NSW Government will be responsible for assessing three planning proposals that could unlock around 19,000 new homes, and secure the protection and implementation of important koala corridors, in Appin, Gilead and North Appin.

Mr Roberts said while planning proposals are normally lodged with councils in the first instance, the State will assess these proposals.

“The Department of Planning and Environment will undertake the assessment of these proposals, which are all located in the Greater Macarthur Growth Area, so councils don’t need to. However, it will be required to work closely with councils and other agencies to resolve any potential issues,” he said.

The three proposals which are expected to be lodged shortly are:

  • A 1,284-hectare site to support around 12,900 new homes, including affordable housing, and help secure new important koala corridors (Walker Corporation).
  • A 300-hectare site for up to 3,000 new homes and help secure and implement a koala corridor along Ousedale Creek (Ingham’s Property Group).
  • An 876-hectare site for up to 3,300 new homes, a school, public open space and environmental conservation land, and land dedicated for several koala corridors, that all implement the advice of the NSW Chief Scientist (Lendlease).

However, Wollondilly Mayor Matt Gould has slammed the NSW Government’s latest plan to fast-track development in Appin and leapfrog Council to assess planning proposals.

''Housing Minister Anthony Roberts announced today he will be fast-tracking the destruction of 2,460ha in Appin, taking on assessment of three large housing proposals for a total of 19,000 dwellings within Wollondilly.''

Mayor Gould said, “We are bitterly disappointed at the NSW Government’s rushed announcement and that once again we are seeing them rubber stamp massive residential developments in an area that completely lacks the most basic infrastructure to support it, and without any meaningful commitment to roads, public transport, schools, hospitals or other essential services.”

“The State Government has clearly learnt nothing from the mistakes it has made at Wilton. The Government’s own plans show there is no strategy for infrastructure or jobs,” he said.

“It is way too early to start building houses at Appin, and it is counterproductive to have growth areas competing against each other for basic infrastructure.”

“As it is, there is a half a billion-dollar shortfall in funding for infrastructure at Wilton and opening up another massive development front at Appin will only see growth areas competing for the same inadequate bucket of money to get schools, health and education in place.”

“If the State Government was serious about actually addressing the housing crisis instead of doing sweetheart deals with developers it would be focused on delivering the infrastructure needed to fast track the delivery of homes in Wilton, where the land has already been rezoned and where the delivery of thousands of new homes is only being held up by the failure of the Government to provide the most basic enabling infrastructure.”

“We are still waiting for important road connections to be built, for public transport, for schools, and for a hospital. Wilton will be a town the size of Port Macquarie and the Department of Education has been silent on plans for a new high school.”

“Houses are needed, but so are the jobs. Residents of these proposed developments will be travelling ridiculously long distances to access employment.”

Wollondilly and Appin is yet another area where koalas are part of the landscape and Appin is where development has been approved by the NSW Department of Planning and is proceeding, without any of the koala fauna crossings or mitigation strategies as yet in place.

This ranks alongside the recently announced by the NSW Department of Planning plan for razing 1500 hectares of the 6400 hectares of the critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland, again home to koalas, to facilitate 73,000 new homes in Western Sydney.

The Urban Taskforce, a developers lobby group with a Walkers Corporation member as part of its Executive Committee, released a statement on the same day supporting the state government overruling local councils, community and the wildlife which lives in these places. 

“This decision is a full 180-degree backflip from the former Minister’s policy to remove the State Government from the assessment process for major housing project proposals. The decision to have the State Government Department of Planning take the lead in the assessment process is entirely sensible.'' Urban Taskforce CEO, Tom Forrest said

“Urban Taskforce has been calling for State led assessment of major projects for years.

“These large projects often cross Council borders. Their impact is felt far beyond Council boundaries. Councils are ill-equipped to deal with the multitude of regulatory authorities and agencies that have a say on these types of development projects. This is the role of the State Government and kudos to Premier Dominic Perrottet and Planning and Homes Minister Anthony Roberts for taking action which will make a real difference to housing supply numbers.’’

Urban Taskforce were also the body that called for the Ditching of the NSW Design & Place Planning Reforms earlier this year which would have applied restrictions to building homes in flood and bushfire zones.

“Quite simply the concept of planning reform fatigue is real,” Mr Roberts told an Urban Development Institute of Australia lunch he was attending in Sydney on Wednesday March 16, 2022.

“There have been some great policy reforms but there comes a stage when the rubber has got to hit the road, and that means putting aside some of those policy reforms and ideas to provide certainty to the industry.” he stated.

On Thursday November 3rd the NSW Greens stated 'the NSW government must put a stop to development in pristine bushland at Lizard Rock'.

Greens Candidate for Wakehurst at the upcoming NSW election, Ethan Hrnjak, condemned the proposal and the state government’s role in it.

“As a long-time resident of Frenchs Forest, the news that this planned proposal is moving to rezone any of this land for housing, to chop the pristine bushland into suburban blocks, is tragic,” Mr Hrnjak said.

“It’s a slap in the face to the community, who have expressed extensive opposition to the proposed development. 

“Any resulting development would be environmental vandalism of the highest order.”

Mr Hrnjak said the NSW government had granted MLALC the land under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983.

Under the Act, Aboriginal land councils have been set up “to manage land, providing an economic base for Aboriginal communities as compensation for historic dispossession and ongoing disadvantage”, the NSW government said.

Further, the government this year included six sites, including Lizard Rock, in its Northern Beaches Aboriginal Land Development Delivery Plan (DDP), which “considers the high-level opportunities and constraints associated with future development”.

“This exceptional landscape provides homes for endangered species like the Grey-headed Flying fox and the Red-crowned toadlet. We know hundreds of Aboriginal cultural sites are also within the bush,” Mr Hrnjak said.

“The government has a responsibility to compensate First Nations people for their enormous losses inflicted by invasion but it must also protect local Aboriginal cultural sites, threatened species and the unique natural landscape of the area.”

All this comes atop the NSW Government's approval of a new mountain bike strategy for all national parks and reserves on October 21st, with the first proposal, to cut new tracks through the bush, made available for feedback on November 4th 2022.

A 2020 report sent in by a resident of Narrabeen, and showing a wallaby being run over the a mountain bike rider on an illegal track at Ingleside, may be some indication of what will occur as the NSW Government rolls that plan out. The local council has already made a statement that it supports and will approach the NPWS to formalise illegal tracks in Ingleside Chase Reserve.

Nicole Romain, one of the founders of the Save the Northern Beaches Bushlands community group, stated yesterday, November 5th;

''It is disappointing that no other solutions to a proposal that has received a huge amount of community opposition are being considered. That this is being pushed through by the state government, just after all three of our incumbent state MP's have announced they are retiring, is also very disappointing. It's not rocket science what is happening around us at present, when we're not in flood, we're dealing with horrific bushfires. This all needs to stop and change for the better, not for the worse.''

''It really is pushing the absolute limits now as once they find one angle it is relentless development and crazy proposals that epitomise greed over need.

It is out of control and out of hand and we need to keep taking a stand against this and call it out for what it is.''

Next weekend 12 and 13 November 2022  Nicole will be leading 2 x bushwalks details below:
Saturday, 12 November 2022 – 2pm to 4pm - meet at Slippery Dip Trail, Morgan Road, Belrose.
Sunday, 13 November 2022 – 11am to 1pm - meet at Ralston Avenue, Belrose.