IBM’s gem

Berowra Greens' candidate Monica Tan and Greens councillor Emma Heyde want the forest and buildings preserved
Berowra Greens' candidate Monica Tan and Greens councillor Emma Heyde want the forest and buildings preserved

Northern Sydney has an oversupply of apartments. But it doesn’t have an oversupply of koalas.

A new Forestry report released on 18 October confirms that there are koalas in the forest at the old IBM site in West Pennant Hills. But developer Mirvac wants to build 600 new houses and apartments on the land.

The developer claims to have looked and not found any koalas. They also didn’t identify the two rare bats or the Swift parrots that the Forestry Corp report lists.

But koalas or no koalas, this is a hotspot for wildlife.

The 25 hectare IBM site sits right next to Cumberland State Forest. Only about a third of the site is buildings and carparks; the rest is forest.

Large parts of the ten hectare forest have never been cleared for timber or orchards. Threatened species live on the site, including Powerful owls.

Originally the developer wanted to put 1,270 houses on the site. Community outrage forced Mirvac to scale back to 400 houses and blocks of 200 apartments, up to six storeys high.

Residents in Hornsby and Hills Shires say the forest should be protected in perpetuity and the buildings re-used as a school. Thousands of letters, emails, petitions and social media posts have been sent to the developer and to Hills Shire Council raising concerns about traffic, environmental damage and overdevelopment of the West Pennant Hills Valley.

If Hills Council continues its support for the project, despite reports of koalas, it will go on exhibition for public comment before Christmas.

“I am a retired IBM employee and spent many years in “Cumberland Forest”, as this location was called. IBM took a lot of trouble and spent a lot of money to plant the trees and even used environmental scientists to bring the birds back to the forest. It breaks my heart to read what is happening to this site.”

– Marilyn Thomas

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