Related content: Hume MP Angus Taylor says Menangle wrong place for housing.
The small, rural village of Menangle will receive a massive makeover after a rezoning proposal to allow 350 lots was approved last week.
The rezoning is the first step in a broader plan to build 5000 new homes east of the rail line on Station Street.
All three Macarthur councils – Wollondilly, Camden and Campbelltown – publicly opposed the application, however, the independent Sydney South West Planning Panel still approved it.
Wollondilly councillor Matt Gould was the only person on the five-person panel who voted to reject the proposal.
Cr Gould said the area was designated as a metropolitan rural area which meant the land should be supported and protected for agricultural purposes. He also said the proposal, if approved, would not retain the rural character of the village.
Some of his fellow Wollondilly councillors were also left shaking their heads after the decision.
Councillors Michael Banasik and Matt Deeth both said it was a “sad day” for the small village.
The Sydney South West Planning Panel – along with several others – were established by the state government to oversee large developments.
Wollondilly MP Jai Rowell defended the need for the panels.
“The (panels) were made by the state government but they are independent and they don’t always do what the government wants. I can also give you a long list of decisions made by the council that upset the community,” he said.
Mr Rowell urged Wolllondilly Council to take a more proactive approach when it came to the preservation of agriculture in the shire.
“We can’t just say what we don’t want. The council needs to advocate for what they do want,” he said.
“When we say we need to preserve agricultural lands, what does that look like?
“Unless it’s used for agricultural purposes, it’s nothing more than a nice block of land with a view.”
The owner of the 350-lot site, Ernest Dupere, said he was “relieved” the approval came through after a “very long slog” in the “problematic” rezoning process.
He said the “handful of detractors” were not representative of the majority of residents who supported the proposed development, which would "restore life to the old creamery" and see the construction of a brewery, distillery, bar, kid's farm, cooking school, restaurants and playgrounds.
“I hope those detractors – and it really is just a handful – come and have a beer at the bar that was brewed right here in Menangle,” he said.
“I hope they'll see the mistake in their judgement. This is what the area needs – tourism and employment.”
See columnist Jeff McGill’s view on page 15.