Residents, politicians unsure about deferral

Unsure: Residents against the proposed 136,000-plot cemetery in the Scenic Hills, including Jacqui Kirkby and MP Anoulack Chanthivong (second and third from left) met at Ms Kirkby's property on Friday. Picture: Anna Warr

Unsure: Residents against the proposed 136,000-plot cemetery in the Scenic Hills, including Jacqui Kirkby and MP Anoulack Chanthivong (second and third from left) met at Ms Kirkby's property on Friday. Picture: Anna Warr

“I don’t know whether to be disappointed or pleased.”

Jacqui Kirkby, head of the Scenic Hills Association and owner of the historic Varroville House, feels like she is in limbo.

A decision was supposed to be made at a meeting last Thursday by the Joint Regional Planning Panel on a proposed cemetery – surrounding Ms Kirkby’s property – in the Scenic Hills, the natural land buffer that separates Campbelltown from Camden and Liverpool.

But, to the shock of all in attendance, no decision was made (see sidebar).

“They cannot have not got the message that we don’t want to see this go ahead,” Ms Kirkby said.

“There were a lot of really good points being made [by residents at the meeting] and I don’t think they [the JRPP] should have been making the decision then anyhow.

“If the planning system was working as it should, this should be knocked on the head.”

Residents discuss what the decision deferral means for the proposed cemetery. Picture: Anna Warr

Residents discuss what the decision deferral means for the proposed cemetery. Picture: Anna Warr

Ms Kirkby has the support of Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong, who also wants the cemetery, proposed by the Catholic Metropolitan Cemetries Trust, rejected.

He is hopeful that the deferral of the decision will bode well for those in opposition.

“I’m hoping the panel is actually listening to the views of our community, a view of protecting the Scenic Hills which has been in place for many decades,” he said.

“We’re hoping the JRPP actually listens to our views and the value our community places on the Scenic Hills.”

Both Ms Kirkby and Mr Chanthivong were pleased by the strong and vocal arguments against the cemetery which were presented at the JRPP meeting.

“Those arguments, I think, carried extremely significant weight and I’m hoping the JRPP listens to those arguments and puts them on top of any other argument,” the MP said.

While Mr Chanthivong is keen to think positively about the impending decision, other residents are less forgiving of the panel.

Denham Court’s Lyndell Painter – who also spoke at the meeting – thinks the panel refused to make a decision on the night because they were afraid of the community reaction.

Lyndell Painter, Anoulack Chanthivong, Peter Gibbs, Lynton Painter and Jacqui Kirkby discuss the decision deferral. Picture: Anna Warr

Lyndell Painter, Anoulack Chanthivong, Peter Gibbs, Lynton Painter and Jacqui Kirkby discuss the decision deferral. Picture: Anna Warr

“They did not have the guts to make the decision that night, I think they were afraid of getting lynched,” she said. 

“They did not want walk out of that room and face the community.”

Campbelltown MP Greg Warren, who has been a vocal opponent to the proposed cemetery but was unable to attend the JRPP meeting due to parliamentary obligations, hopes the deferral is a sign the panel is taking community objection seriously.

“The lack of consideration of community opposition to date, as well as council objection, has been disappointing at best,” he said.

“There are plenty of other places a cemetery can go, why does it have to go in a the middle of green space that has been protected for decades?”

The CMCT is pleased with the JRPP’s consideration of the cemetery.

“The CMCT has welcomed the JRPP reception to our proposal,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

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