Mayor furious with 136,000-plot cemetery approval

Going ahead: An artist's impression of the now-approved cemetery in the Scenic Hills. Picture: Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust
Going ahead: An artist's impression of the now-approved cemetery in the Scenic Hills. Picture: Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust

Campbelltown mayor George Brticevic is furious that a controversial plan for a 136,000-plot cemetery in the pristine Scenic Hills is set to be approved.

The Independent Planning Commission (IPC) this week ordered the South Western City Planning Panel to approve the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (CMCT) proposal.

Campbelltown Council has opposed the development since the first application in October 2017. Cr Brticevic said the commission's decision was "against any sort of natural justice or democracy principles".

"It is very disappointing that a so-called 'independent' planning commission would direct a local planning panel to approve a cemetery," he said. "It makes a farce of the Greater Sydney Commission planning panels."

Cr Brticevic said a "very detailed council submission" objecting to the cemetery proposal had "gone by the wayside" in the IPC's deliberations. He said the planning process was "stacked in the government's favour" and condemned the fact the council had little ability to impact the decision.

Cr Brticevic said Campbelltown Council had been actively protecting the Scenic Hills since 1973 and was against development that threatened the important green buffer.

Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong said government ministers had "sat on their hands" and allowed the "overdevelopment floodgates" to open in the Scenic Hills.

"I vehemently reject the IPC's view that the cemetery is in the public interest," he said. "The only interest the cemetery will serve is the CMCT - aided and abetted by the Liberal Government."

IPC commissioners inspected the project site, held a public meeting and considered community views before making their decision to order the approval.

They elected to move forward with the cemetery because it would "address a need for additional cemetery space [and was] in close proximity to urban growth areas and transport options".

They also found "potential impacts to European heritage vales, including the Varro Ville Homestead, and the environment, have been minimised through site design and layout and are likely to result in positive and improved outcome and management strategy for the surrounding landscape and outbuildings".

CMCT chief executive Peter O'Meara said the approval would help future generations overcome the challenges of declining burial space.

"This approval ensures the internment practices and beliefs of all religious and cultural groups are respected and provided for," he said. "We welcome everyone to these world-class facilities and public recreational spaces."