Disquiet over Peat Island future

Plans to create a tourist precinct and 268 new dwellings on Peat Island and in Mooney Mooney may sound like a great idea –  but the reality of the project has the community concerned it will be a badly-conceived mess.

Brooklyn Community Association says the problem lies with state government planners responsible for the development only talking to Central Coast Council, yet new residents will be using Hornsby Council amenities. It wants to see more stakeholders involved in the conception of the precinct.

Property NSW owns Peat Island, once a mental institution, as well as the 21 hectares of prime waterfront land on the edge of the Hawkesbury, included in the proposal.

It wants to build new houses and flats “to meet regional housing needs”, including 130 marina berths, 2.4 km of footpaths around Peat Island and along river foreshore, plus a new neighbourhood centre and service station.

Plans are currently with the state planning department at the first stage “gateway determination” part of the process. It is in partnership with Central Coast Council  (CCC) which is considering rezoning the land.

Brooklyn Community Association has misgivings about the development. BCA President Di Bowles said: “This is the Central Coast Council’s jurisdiction though most of the residents will use Hornsby Council for their infrastructure – that’s the problem. State planners will only work with Central Coast Council, not Hornsby, and we have complained about this.

“It’s a once in a lifetime chance to do something special like art shows, pop up concerts and a  marina wharf with public access as there’s hardly any access to water for the public.

She said that she had met with the previous Planning Minister Rob Stokes, last November. “I asked him to consider this as one council area, and one community not two, but he seemed to put it into the too hard basket.”

Various other aspects of the plan worry locals: “There’s no infrastructure there – no schools or transport. And where will residents park when there’s already no parking at Berowra station which is full anyway?

“We need to all be in the same room talking. Our ideal is a proper community consultation with Heritage NSW, Property NSW, both councils, the RMS and all the people who have a stake in the island and land, getting together to put together a joined-up proposal.”

Before anything happens the land needs to be rezoned and a revised proposal from CCC is currently before the Department of Planning for consideration.

If it has “enough strategic merit”, there will be a public consultation process, including with the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council, “to ensure everyone has an opportunity to provide feedback and is informed of the Government’s plans and the opportunities for the site,” said Property NSW spokesman Michael Bruce.

Peat Island has a number of revered buildings which have been listed on the National Trust Register, ensuring their heritage “forms a key consideration during the planning and development process,” he said.

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