Primary Industries 'does not support' current development plans around Hurlstone

The campaign to protect the agricultural integrity of Hurlstone has been ongoing for years. Picture: Simon Bennett
The campaign to protect the agricultural integrity of Hurlstone has been ongoing for years. Picture: Simon Bennett

The Department of Primary Industries is concerned residential impact close to Hurlstone Agricultural High School will harm the Glenfield school's agricultural curriculum.

A submission from the department, sent by Deputy Director of General Agricultural Kate Lorimer-Ward, on the high school's development plans - detailed in the draft Glenfield Place Strategy - highlighted fears of 'land use conflict' at the site.

The strategy identified Glenfield "as an ideal location for urban renewal because of its access to public transport, opportunities to provide new jobs and the potential to deliver high-quality new homes supported by infrastructure".

"A draft Precinct Plan was prepared for Glenfield in 2015 which proposed additional homes, increased density and heights around the station to encourage both renewal and potential for jobs through education, health care and commercial opportunities," the strategy read.

Hurlstone is located right by Glenfield Train Station, an area earmarked for further residential development.

A Department of Education spokesman told the Advertiser in late 2019 that "some land within the high school's grounds [was] being rezoned for alternative uses, including residential, public open space and commercial uses that will then be available for future sale".

The DPI submission feels that current high-rise plans are too close to the school's agricultural areas.

"The draft structure plan for the Hurlstone redevelopment is not supported," the submission states.

"The configuration of future residential and commercial land uses surrounding Hurlstone is likely to increase the potential for land use conflict between new residential development and the agricultural activities occurring at Hurlstone.

"Land use conflict between agricultural and residential land uses has a significant impact on agricultural production and its avoidance or mitigation through better land-use planning is a focus of the work being undertaken by the Agriculture Commissioner.

"Reduction in size of Hurlstone and upgrading and expansion of the agricultural facilities are likely to result in more intensive agricultural activities which, when combined with the closer proximity of high and medium density housing, could result in greater potential for land use conflict."

The submission also suggested odour and noise assessments were required before any approvals could be made.

It says that 'Buffer Zone Interim Guideline' separation suggestions for agricultural activities are not achieved in the area's current plans.

"No consideration has been given to alternative measures to mitigate any potential land use conflict," the submission states.

"While it is acknowledged that Hurlstone is not a commercial agricultural operation, it is still likely to generate similar impacts and separation distances to residential land uses should be maximised.

"The DPI Agriculture is concerned that the encroachment of residential land uses on the land surrounding Hurlstone may result in land use conflict which causes Hurlstone to curtail its agricultural activities, having a negative impact on the agricultural curriculum at Hurlstone."

The submission does support the upgrade and expansion of agricultural facilities at the school.

Macquarie Fields MP Anoulack Chanthivong, who has been a vocal opponent of overdevelopment in Glenfield and the wider electorate, called for the immediate cessation of plans for redevelopment at Hurlstone.

"Residents and the school community must be confident that any plans for development on the school site will not negatively impact agricultural activities at the school," he said.

"The Department of Primary Industries has made it clear that the Liberal Government's current plan to have high-rise so close to Hurlstone's farm is inappropriate and potentially dangerous.

"It would be a travesty to lose 82 hectares of open space at Hurlstone and risk the educational outcomes for students just to line the pockets of developers."

Mr Chanthivong said the Liberal Government must investigate the Department of Primary Industries' concerns and drastically modify the Draft Glenfield Place Strategy.

"The farmland at Hurlstone needs to be protected from development for the good of the students and the local community," he said.

"It is unacceptable for an agricultural high school with Hurlstone's history and reputation to be swamped and dwarfed by overdevelopment."