Campbelltown Council’s decision to support a 1700-lot development at Mount Gilead which would replace 210 hectares of green space with rooftops has infuriated residents.
The rezoning of the rural land off Appin Road, Mount Gilead to permit housing development was approved at the last council meeting and will now go to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure for final determination.
The council approved the rezoning, south of Rosemeadow, with a vote of 11-3.
The approval means the developers – Lendlease – will go ahead with a $54 million upgrade plan for Appin Road between Fitzgibbon Lane, Ambarvale and the southern point of the development, $9 million of which would be provided by the state government.
Developers say upgrade works would begin “immediately”.
Several residents spoke against the housing development at the meeting on Tuesday, November 22 citing environmental, heritage and wildlife concerns.
Pat Durman, a Wedderburn resident, labelled the plans for Mount Gilead “panic development”, the likes of which “happened in England and [were] now happening in Sydney”.
“Campbelltown is fast becoming a city without a heart,” she said.
Mrs Durman was worried wildlife – including koalas, which are frequently spotted along Appin Road – would be displaced and become roadkill without the adequate provision of a wildlife corridor.
Wildlife campaigner and curator of Facebook page Help Save the Wildlife and Bushland in Campbelltown, Richard Lonza also spoke against the development.
He asked if the councillors had actually visited the site they would be voting on.
“The property needs to be kept intact and untouched,” he said.
“It has significance in Campbelltown like no other – take any of this land and it would ruin the whole farm.
“The heritage has more value to the community than any rezoning – we need to keep it as it is.”
A site of particular heritage value at Mount Gilead is an almost 200-year-old windmill.
Mr Lonza also called the 1700-home development a “death trap for wildlife”.
Frequent development detractor John Gay said it would be a “disaster” if the plan went ahead and “Mount Gilead [needed] to be preserved in its entirety”.
Darryl Kite spoke on behalf of the proponents and said significant effort had been taken to ensure the best development for the region.
“We feel we have addressed residents’ concerns,” Mr Kite said.
“We believe the outcome will be advantageous to the people of Campbelltown.
“There are virtually no heritage items on the development site itself.”
Mr Kite said the developers had planned for a curtilage around the historic mill and homestead to “mitigate any adverse effects”.
After listening to the speakers, councillors Ben Moroney, Warren Morrison and Fred Borg all felt they did not have the appropriate information to make a decision and suggested the vote be deferred.
However, the other councillors disagreed and were enticed by the developers’ promise to upgrade a stretch of Appin Road.
Cr Darcy Lound said the benefit to Appin Road – and the people who use it – would outweigh any other detriments.
He asked: “How else would we fix Appin Road?”
Cr George Greiss was also firmly in support of the development.
He said plans had been going back and forth between the applicant and the council for six years and it was time to step up and make a decision.
“We can put this on hold again, but there will always be something just around the corner,” he said.
“Now, six years later, our staff are telling us they are comfortable with the proposal.
“We’ve done our due diligence and we haven’t done it overnight, it’s been six years.
“We’ve had ample time to consider this, if you believe it will be beneficial to Campbelltown and improve social equity, we cannot delay.”
The development was approved with an extra amendment by mayor George Brticevic asking the council to write to the minister for transport requesting a bus service to the Campbelltown CBD from Mount Gilead be in place from the first day of occupancy.