Scenic Hills Association member Jacqui Kirkby is concerned “untrue” reports of a lack of burial space in Macarthur is deceiving the public.
Ms Kirkby, owner of the historic Varro Ville homestead in Campbelltown’s pristine Scenic Hills, said rhetoric that south-west Sydney was in need of more burial space was inaccurate.
She has spent years fighting a proposal from the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust to develop a 136,000-plot cemetery in the hills, adjoining her property.
Ms Kirkby was concerned with a report recently featured in the Sydney Morning Herald which detailed state Planning Minister Anthony Roberts’ decision to delegate consent authority of the Varroville cemetery and another at Wallacia to the state Independent Planning Commission.
The article referenced a report by cemeteries expert David Harley which said a lack of cemetery space was “eroding community confidence”.
Ms Kirkby told the Advertiser the state government’s own Metropolitan Sydney Cemetery Capacity Report, delivered in November last year, proved there was adequate burial space available in the region.
“Only the west-central and south-west regions [including the Macarthur area] are well served for capacity in proportion to the number of persons projected to die in each region,” the report stated.
The Herald article noted cemeteries trust chief executive Peter O’Meara was in favour of the planning commission taking over consent authority from the Sydney Western City Planning Panel.
"We have for some time expressed our concern that the processes for determining applications has been compromised at the council level, with vested interests attempting to thwart our applications," he said.
Ms Kirkby was concerned such a statement could mislead readers, as Campbelltown Council had no power to decide on the cemetery proposal.
“Council never had the decision-making authority,” she said.
“It has been merely assessing the development application for the Sydney Western City Planning Panel – the latter being the consent authority.
“As 70 days had passed since lodgement of the DA, the CMCT had the right to appeal to the minister to make the decision [instead].
“However, the minister has distanced himself from it by delegating his powers to the commission instead.
“As far as we can see, the council was being diligent in requesting more information for what we regard as a very flawed DA.”
Ms Kirkby said the cemeteries trust made a ‘bad decision’ to buy land in the Scenic Hills as it was never fit for a cemetery.