Wollondilly Council to take planning department to court

South East Wilton precinct artist impression.
South East Wilton precinct artist impression.

Wollondilly Council has taken court action against the Department of Planning.

The council lodged an appeal in the Land and Environment Court against the rezoning of the Wilton South East Precinct today.

The council obtained information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act which revealed the NSW Department of Planning and Environment ignored advice from the Office of Environment and Heritage from 27 September 2017.

The environment office recommended land identified within the primary koala corridor in Wilton New Town not be rezoned.

Council staff see this as a failure to comply with the appropriate procedure and grounds for a judicial review.

Mayor Judith Hannan said the decision to go to court came after numerous communication with the planning department and advocacy from the council.

"The council has tried to engage with the Premier and the Minister for Planning to restore a proper planning process and ensure these matters were fully addressed,” she said.

"This has proved futile and as a result, the council has no alternative but to seek for the matter to be placed before the courts."

“The council has been put in the position where we have no choice but to appeal what we see as an unreasonable and hasty decision.”

The council believes the rezoning of the precinct was premature.

The state government adopted the Interim Land Use and Infrastructure Implementation Plan, which clearly stated rezoning would not occur until traffic, transport and infrastructure matters were resolved.

It also stated rezoning would not occur until the Land Use and Infrastructure Plan was finalised and subject to further community consultation.

The council launched a petition after the rezoning process in April. Last week the petition reached 10,000 signatures.

Residents were asked to sign the council’s petition which called for the Wilton South East Precinct rezoning to be repealed and replaced with a zoning that protected the koalas’ habitat.

The council will present the petition to state parliament for debate, which should happen in mid-August.

Walker Corporation recently lodged its development application for the South East Wilton Precinct. Walker Corporation is seeking to build more than 3300 dwellings in the precinct.

A Walker Corporation spokesman said about 40 per cent of the site had been set aside for conservation, including the significant koala corridor along Allen’s Creek which would link to an existing underpass under Picton Road, allowing safe passage for the local koala population.