Historic land south of Campbelltown will be filled with houses after the state government approved rezoning at the site.
Rezoning of the historic Mount Gilead farm off Appin Road was approved by Campbelltown Council late last year and the final approval was this week given by the NSW Government’s planning department.
The 210-hectare slice of land will now be able to accommodate a 1700-lot housing estate proposed by developers Lendlease.
Macarthur residents have been vocal in their opposition to development at the site in the past, including Greens councillor Ben Moroney.
Mr Moroney told the Advertiser he believed the government was not working in the community’s best interest.
“They obviously don’t give a stuff about our community,” he said.
“The government just does the bidding of developers.
“This decision certainly doesn’t have the support of a lot of Campbelltown residents.”
Mr Moroney said the farm was one of the very few “productive, peri-urban farms” still operating in Sydney and it would be a shame to see it filled with houses.
He said the site was filled with colonial and indigenous history and, despite the proposed curtilage around the housing development, that would be compromised by the estate.
“The only way I can see this development not going ahead is if someone straps themselves to a bulldozer,” he said.
“There are no more avenues of appeal.”
Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic (Labor) had a significantly different view of the rezoning approval.
He said it was a pleasing result because it would mean there would finally be some action taken to update Appin Road.
Lendlease had agreed to chip in $45 million to upgrade the notoriously dangerous road, pending approval of the estate. This would add to the $9 million promised by the state government and $50 million promised by the federal government.
“Appin Road will costs millions of dollars to upgrade and we desperately need that to happen,” he said.
“This $104 million will cover pretty much all of Appin Road within the Campbelltown electorate.
“It will save lives.”
Cr Brticevic said the council had also been in consultation with both governments and the developers to include koala-proof fencing along Appin Road and introduce underpasses so the marsupials could cross safely to the other side.
The mayor said koala crossings on Appin Road were a big issue and the upgrades would also help to save their lives.
He said any movement on the site would still be a significant time away, given the developers would still need to submit a development application.
“Before that can happen things like species studies need to be completed and they take a full 12 months alone,” he said.
“I couldn’t say what the timeline would be at this stage, but we will absolutely have infrastructure before housing.
“The roads will be upgraded and we will have parks and sporting fields for the residents before the houses go up.”
Cr Brticevic said the council was not interested in seeing a repeat of the housing surrounding the historic Blair Athol House and they would work hard to ensure the curtilage and vistas were maintained at Mount Gilead.
He said given the size of the development, consent approval would likely lie with the South-West Planning Panel, which features two councillors and three independent members.
Sue Gay, a vocal opponent to the development, said the rezoning was “criminal, unjust and wrong”.
“I am furious,” she said.
“It will be the saddest day in Campbelltown’s history when houses go up at Mount Gilead.”
She said that many Macarthur residents interested in the environment were highly concerned about the development.
Mrs Gay said pollution and infrastructure were two of the biggest concerns.
A Lendlease spokesman said the developers “welcomed” the approval from the state government.
“Mount Gilead will provide much-needed housing supply to meet local demand within the Macarthur region while protecting environmentally sensitive land and bushland corridors,” he said.
“The proposal will also deliver public open space, community facilities and infrastructure.”
The spokesman said the company would work closely with Campbelltown Council to obtain development approvals with the hope of beginning construction and sales early next year.
He said any works on Appin Road “would involve a review of environmental factors, as required by Roads and Maritime Services, and placed on public exhibition for community feedback”.