June 25 - July 15  2023: Issue 589


Lizard Rock Petition Tabled by wakehurst MP: will be debated june 27

Wombat in Belrose, February 2022. Video supplied.
On Tuesday June 20th 2023 the NSW MP for Wakehurst Michael Regan tabled the petition of signatures gathered by The Bushland Guardians to the NSW Parliament of community opposition to the proposed housing development at Lizard Rock in Belrose.

The Bushland Guardians petition is one of two petitions on this subject, with another 'Save our Bushlands on the Northern Beaches', which closes on July 4th 2023 as an e-petition, having been submitted by Ms Nicole Romain, one of the founders of the Save the Northern Beaches Bushlands community group, which has also attracted 1,513 signatures online so far.

After a petition is tabled in the NSW Parliament the Clerk will announce receipt of petitions to the House after Question Time. Petitions with more than 10,000 signatures (or 20,000 in the case of ePetitions) will be announced by the Speaker. 

The subject matter of the petition and the Member who lodged it will be published in the Votes and Proceedings and the terms of each petition will be printed in Hansard. 

A copy of every petition received is forwarded to the Minister responsible for the subject contained in the petition. 

Ministers are required to lodge, with the Clerk, a response to a petition signed by 500 or more persons. The response must be received within 35 calendar days from the date a petition is received. The response is also reported in the House and published in the Votes and Proceedings and Hansard. 

Petitions of more than 10,000 signatures (or 20,000 for ePetitions) will be scheduled for debate in the House. Dates for petition debates are published on the Parliament's website and in the Business Paper.

The Business Paper lists:

 'Petition—from certain citizens requesting the Legislative Assembly repeal the amendments to the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021 so that the 227.3ha of land in the Northern Beaches is no longer subject to the Development Delivery Plan. (Mr Michael Regan). (Set down for debate on 29 June 2023).'

On June 20th Wakehurst MP Michael Regan announced;

''Today I tabled a petition on behalf of my community against the proposed housing development at Lizard Rock in Belrose. The petition has over 12,000 signatures, showing the widespread community opposition to this destructive housing proposal.'' 

''The size of this petition, organised by local group The Bushland Guardians, means the Government is obliged to respond to our community’s concerns, and ensure the issue is debated in State Parliament.

''The community and I, both when I was Mayor and now as the State Member for Wakehurst, have been very clear. The current Lizard Rock proposal goes against good planning and environmental protection principles. It would see the destruction of large swathes of bushland and place homes and people in an area with high bushfire risk and limited infrastructure. Seriously, have we not learned from the most recent of bushfires? Further, the latest independent studies rule out this style of development in high bushfire zone areas, and is why Ingleside was finally knocked on the head and its dwelling targets distributed to areas like Brookvale for in-fill development where infrastructure exists.'' Mr. Regan said

''More greenfield low-density housing, in areas without pre-existing infrastructure is not what our State, city or electorate needs. The Northern Beaches Council has a comprehensive plan for more homes, including a higher proportion of affordable homes in strategic locations – this is what the community wants, and this is the most sustainable, and fair way to tackle our housing crisis.

It's time for the new NSW Government to keep their pre-election promise and block this potentially destructive and unsustainable housing proposal. It’s crucial that the Government ensures the owners of the land, the MLALC, receive fair income from their landholdings, while making sure bushland on the Northern Beaches is protected.

I will continue to hold the Minns Government to account on this issue, and work constructively with all stakeholders to help find a smart solution that is fair for both the MLALC and our community.'' Mr. Regan said

The news has been met with thanks by resident indigenous people, one stating;

''Great job Michael Regan -  keep up this great work, we need this to succeed. My Country.''

Another responded:

''It's so hard to change a broken system. (NSWALRA) Set up to fail! As an Aboriginal woman birthed on the North Shore l say thank you for trying so hard to protect our creation. Power to the People.''

Based on 2021 census data, approximately 1,700 people who live in the NBC LGA are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander ancestry, including people directly descended from the original tribes of the northern beaches. Many of these opposed to the proposal as they want 'unbroken songlines' to be maintained here.

Another non-indigenous resident said;

''It’s great to save Lizard Rock but there are more sites to save.''


''Yes, save all of them. Build affordable housing on sites near employment, public transport, hospitals and schools. Build on land that’s already cleared. No more destructive urban sprawl for rich people to invest in!''

In September 2019 the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) requested the Aboriginal Land SEPP be amended to include its land holdings in the Northern Beaches Council local government area. This resulted in a proposal to include nine sites, six initial sites and three future sites, in the Aboriginal Land SEPP and the preparation of a development delivery plan.

Once processed, the local Aboriginal land council will have the ability to seek an independent review of any planning proposals for each of the six sites to consider whether they have strategic and site-specific merit. Of the six sites, Lizard Rock on Morgan Road in Belrose was earmarked by the then state government as the most suitable short-term development opportunity.

Then NSW Minister for Planning and Homes Anthony Roberts said in early 2022 if progressed the plan means new homes and jobs for the area as well as strengthened self-determination of the Indigenous community.

“This proposal is about Aboriginal people taking charge of using their land in ways that best supports their communities and protects their heritage,” Mr Roberts said. “Helping Aboriginal Land Councils achieve better economic outcomes from their land has long been a priority of mine and this project is a great first step forward for Aboriginal development in the Northern Beaches area.”

The proposal was adopted on July 5th 2022. In doing so the then NSW Minister for Planning approved a Development Delivery Plan for 227.3 ha of bush land located at Lizard Rock (Morgan Road), Aquatic Drive, Forest Way, Corymbia Circuit, Paxton St, and Ralston Ave. The sites are spread across the suburbs of Belrose, Davidson, Frenchs Forest, Oxford Falls and Allambie Heights. 

The Council has consistently opposed the proposal, citing in its March 2022 submission to the Department of Planning and Environment a number of serious concerns relating to the process and review of work so far, including the proposal's impacts on core known habitat for various threatened species of flora and fauna and Threatened Ecological Communities.

Council stated the proposal will also result in impacts on watercourses, wetlands, water dependent ecosystems, associated biodiversity and the quality and quantity of overland flow as it enters local and downstream waterways, including the highly valued Narrabeen Lagoon.

''There are also other concerns. The draft Development Delivery Plan does not adequately address the statutory requirements of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021 (formerly State Environmental Planning Policy (Aboriginal Lands) 2019), in particular, having appropriate regard to the Greater Sydney Regional Plan.

The draft Development Delivery Plan inaccurately and selectively suggests compliance with Council’s Local Strategic Planning Statement and Local Housing Strategy. The adopted Local Housing Strategy states that development in existing non-urban areas is not required to meet Council’s housing targets and is not consistent with good planning principles as established by the Government through its strategic planning framework.

There has been no proper independent review or assessment of the draft Development Delivery Plan.

The Lizard Rock site and other sites included in this proposed SEPP Amendment and DDP are designated as Deferred Areas of Non-Urban Land. They should be considered in the new local Environmental Plan which the Council is developing, which will be available as a Draft LEP.'' Council stated

Council had submitted a proposal (passed at the November Council meeting) opposing the MLALC’s application to proceed via a Gateway determination reiterating these grounds, especially risk of extreme bushfires with inadequate evacuation routes possible. Others included: inconsistency with the Conservation Zones Review; enormous loss of high biodiversity habitat; unjustified and outdated urban design; insufficient survey work of Aboriginal heritage; major impacts on waterways; slope instability; and insufficient information regarding stormwater infrastructure impacts.

Council was not due to meet until February 28th 2023, however, Councillors were called to an extraordinary meeting on January 24th, where the NBC voted against overseeing development of a planning proposal for Lizard Rock, meaning it will be free to oppose any plans when they go on public exhibition, rather than obliged to progress them. 

The North Sydney Planning Panel (NSPP) had filed a report to council on December 22 approving a Gateway determination for the MLALC’s proposal to build up to 450 houses at the Lizard Rock site.

At the same time, the NSPP via its "Strategic Planning Panel" had offered the council the role of overseeing the proposal, known as becoming the "Planning Process Authority", which would have meant the Council would have been responsible for progressing the Metro Land Council plans. Council were given 42 days in which to respond - ie by February 2.

Council's refusal to be the PPA means NBC will not have the opportunity to assess any ultimate plans for development at the site. Instead, this would go to a so-called "Gateway determination", which is granted by the NSW Planning Minister or their delegate.

On Thursday June 15th 2023 the newly elected Minns Labor Government announced Housing developments with a capital investment value over $75 million, which allocate a minimum of 15% of the total gross floor area to affordable housing, will gain access to the State Significant Development (SSD) planning approval pathway.

Further, these developments will also gain access to a 30% floor space ratio boost, and a height bonus of 30% above local environment plans.

Currently the Lizard Rock proposal is accompanied by a non-binding Voluntary Planning Agreement (VPA) offer which proposes to dedicate 10% of the saleable land by area for affordable housing.

Established by the former Coalition Government, the existing SSD pathway sees proposals assessed solely by the Department of Planning and Environment and bypasses local councils and planning panels. The SSD pathway allows faster planning decisions, providing certainty to developers and investors in these projects.

At the same time, planning controls or 'having a say' are taken away from the community and their Councils.

This can be applied to the Lizard Rock and other MLALC proposals in this LGA.

The Coalition established Sydney North Planning Panel, with former Liberal Minister Peter Debnam in the Chair, determined on May 23rd 2023 (published May 29 2023) that the Lizard Rock proposal should proceed towards Gateway Determination (consideration by the Minister). This is the next administrative step towards approval.

If the Minister wishes to proceed, it will then go to community consultation before a final decision is made. Read the decision at: https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/rezoning-reviews/planning-panel-or-commission-decision/lizard-rock-morgan-road-belrose

This makes apparent that the Decision was not unanimous. One member of the Panel found that in the Panel’s role as an Independent Aboriginal Review Panel from December 2022, its conditions to determining that the Planning Proposal demonstrates site specific merit have not been adequately addressed by the revised Planning Proposal; and that in the Panel's role as the Planning Proposal Authority under s3.33 of the EPA Act, the explanation of, and justification for, the amended Planning Proposal is not adequate.

In particular, the extent of the proposed R2 zone provides an expectation that the land within this zone can be developed with permissible uses. It does not provide adequate certainty in relation to land identified in the Structure Plan, for uses such as public/private open space, riparian zone, items of aboriginal significance and the APZ, where residential and other permissible uses in the R2 zone, are not envisaged. The inconsistencies in the revised Planning Proposal also do not demonstrate the suitability of the proposal to adequately respond to the environmental and other constraints of the site, that SNPP member found.

However, in response to the planning proposal that the Sydney North Planning Panel subsequently forwarded to the Minister under section 3.34(1) of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (the Act) the delegate for the Labor Minister for Planning, the Hon. Paul Scully, wrote to Northern Beaches Council advising that the planning proposal should proceed. 

The Gateway determination included a condition for a site-specific Development Control Plan to be prepared in consultation with Council and the Department of Planning before exhibition of the Planning Proposal and the delegate was, in the letter, encouraging the Council to liaise with the proponent on this. Further, the Decision of the Sydney North Planning Panel noted the Proponent had offered to work with Council on a VPA (Voluntary Planning Agreement) and that that offer should be progressed in consultation with Council and the Department advised accordingly.

Although Council has reiterated its opposition to the proposal several times, no update on whether the Council will now help prepare a site-specific Development Control Plan or VPA for Lizard Rock was available when going to press.

The planning proposal seeks to amend the Warringah LEP to rezone the land for residential and conservation uses; secure additional permitted uses within the appropriate zone for residential land uses such as dual occupancies and seniors housing, as well as community facilities; introduce maximum building height of 8.5m; and introduce a range of small, medium to large residential lot sizes.

Member for Pittwater Rory Amon stated in response that the Lizard Rock proposal has been greenlit by the new Labor NSW Government's delegate for the Labor Minister for Planning, despite significant community opposition to the plan which would see the destruction of 45 football fields of pristine bushland and wildlife habitat, and obviously all the wildlife that lives or visits there for food,.

In March 2023 then Labor Planning Spokesman Paul Scully stated he would work with the land council and the council to find a use for the site, but that wouldn't include a housing plan. 

The most recent announcement has been cited as a 'backflip' by the new NSW Government.

I have consistently campaigned against this developmentThis development will see 450 low density residential lots, which I am very certain will be carved up into Seniors Living apartments under the relevant SEPP after any final approval is given by government, with potentially 1,800 Seniors Living units or boarding house dwellings.'' Mr. Amon said on June 15th

''On top of the loss of pristine environment, the significant congestion created, without any regional improvement in infrastructure will significantly reduce local quality of life. More than this, the risk to life is deeply concerning. My experience in the Black Summer Bush fires and my detailed study of the fire studies, have steeled my resolve to ensure this development does not progress. Placing homes in such a vulnerable area is, in my view, a recipe for tragedy. I cannot stand by and let this occur. Government must work with the MLALC and community to ensure the land is protected and that the MLALC rights as landowners are protected,” said Mr Amon

The Bushland Guardians are asking residents and all local MP's to support the petition and Wakehurst MP Michael Regan at NSW Parliament on Thursday 29th June, advising to arrive by 3.15 for a 4pm start in chambers.

''We advise everyone arriving and meeting at the Fountain Court in NSW Parliament House between 3:15 and 3:30pm to allow the parliamentary staff plenty of time to seat everyone.'' organisers said on Friday

''Parliament has now asked the Northern Beaches Bushland Guardians to keep track of numbers and attendees, so please click the link below to register (it's free to attend).''

''You can also attend remotely via livestream.''

For details or to register to attend, visit here.

10,000 signatures held by (L-R) Garigal man Neil Evers, Dr Conny Harris, Pam Dawes, Deb Harris, Rachael Jackson, Cr Kristyn Glanville in March 2023

Wakehurst MP Michael Regan on June 20, 2023 with the petition.


The NSW Minister for Planning approved a Development Delivery Plan for 227.3 ha of bush land located at Lizard Rock (Morgan Road), Aquatic Drive, Forest Way, Corymbia Circuit, Paxton St, and Ralston Ave. The sites are spread across the suburbs of Belrose, Davidson, Frenchs Forest, Oxford Falls and Allambie Heights. 

As a result of the Minister's decision, these sites are now included in the NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (Planning Systems) 2021 ("SEPP"), with planning decisions taken out of the hands of Northern Beaches Council and decisions instead made by the State Government. The first site proposed for development is the 71 ha “Lizard Rock” site located at Morgan Road, Belrose, which proposes 450 houses.