An unequivocal “no” to nearly 3000 new homes in South Dural, is the message from concerned residents in the area.
Both a packed public meeting of 600 locals, plus 5,000 individual letters of opposition presented to council, has sent a firm message to developers, Hornsby Council and the Baird Government that they don’t want this huge development at their doorstep.
Lack of provision for schools, aged care, recreational activities and affordable housing, plus a local road infrastructure that won’t cope now or when promised upgrades take place, and development encroachment into vital wildlife corridors and endangered forest are all on the list of concerns of the perceived inadequacies of the intensive housing plan.
Local action group RIPA (Residents’ Infrastructure and Planning Alliance) handed over a sackful of submissions to Hornsby Council last month, while HMC extended its deadline by three weeks to further gauge public sentiment about rezoning former farming land.
RIPA Spokesperson Jacqui Goddard says the enormity of the response indicates the depth of feeling within the community about developing South Dural, while developers say there is a lot of misinformation about their proposal.
After the Cherrybrook meeting hosted by the Galston Area Residents’ Association, and attended by MPs Matt Keen, Damien Tudehope and Julian Leeser, co-host Hornsby Ku ring gai Greens Convenor Emma Heyde said: “Such a massive turnout sends a very strong message to local, state and federal politicians: development at South Dural is not in the interests of existing or future residents.
“It’s a disaster for traffic, a disaster for urban agriculture and a disaster for the environment.
“This is a developer-initiated proposal that relies on existing transport, education and health services to accommodate 7,700 new residents. Compare the developers’ South Dural Planning Proposal with the RFS Bushfire documents, the State Government’s housing plans, Hornsby Council’s own Housing Strategy and the Greater Sydney Commission’s Draft District North Plan, and you’ll see that it’s in conflict with all of them.
“The community is waiting to hear the response of their elected politicians. Will they deliver for developers, or will they listen to the community and save South Dural?”
Echoing constituents’ concerns, Julian Leeser said he has serious concerns about the proposal in its current form.“I don’t believe that the existing level of infrastructure is sufficient to support the current proposal.”
Damien Tudehope has always declared his staunch opposition to the project, while Matt Kean has, following the Cherrybrook meeting, been persuaded the plan will never get off the ground given the avalanche of opposition.“I’m deeply worried about the impact it will have on our road network, our local environment and the character of the area,” he said.
“I will be making sure that the community voice is heard by the relevant decision makers – HMC and the state planning department.”
Developers Folkstone and Lyon Group Australia said in a statement to the Monthly Chronicle, that the Government has no plans to improve the already congested roads in the area, and that “Developer funded road upgrade works are essential to get the much needed upgrade and future capacity road work started.”
Once complete, these road upgrades will accommodate the 2,900 new homes and “traffic demands for the next 20 years,” the statement confidently predicted.
Developers also said there is a “significant amount of misinformation” about the scheme, including the suggestion 20,000 new homes are planned. It stated that the rezoning will add affordable housing through “a mixture of different sized and priced” homes, enabling both older people to downsize while staying in the area, and first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder.
Hornsby Council has engaged a team of town planners, urban designers, traffic engineers, bushfire risk assessors, and environmental and heritage experts to evaluate the proposal and review the issues raised in the thousands of community submissions.
The combined evaluations will form a report to go before Council in the middle of the year, its contents made public nine days before the Council meeting it is tabled for. Council then has until March 2018 to communicate its response to the Department of Planning.