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HomeLatest NewsParliament fills with Beaches folks as 12,000-person petition presented

Parliament fills with Beaches folks as 12,000-person petition presented

A 12,000 signature petition calling for a halt to a proposed development scheme for 450 houses around Lizard Rock in Belrose was presented to the NSW Parliament on Thursday, 29 June, by Wakehurst MP Michael Regan.

Representations were also made by Rory Amon, Matt Cross and James Griffin, members for Pittwater, Davidson and Manly, respectively (the latter the former Environment Minister), expressing support for the campaign to save Lizard Rock bushland.

The public gallery was filled by the Northern Beaches Bushland Guardians, a coalition of residents, environmentalists, councillors and other concerned citizens. The Bushland Guardians gathered the 12,262 signatures on the petition, which they presented to Mr Regan beneath Lizard Rock on 17 June 2023.

The petition requests that the “Legislative Assembly repeal the amendments to the State Environment Planning Policy (Planning Systems) so that 227 hectares of land in the northern beaches is no longer subject to the development delivery plan.”

What is the Lizard Rock development?

The Lizard Rock development is a proposal by the land owners, Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC), to clear 71 hectares of bushland (equivalent to 132 football fields) and build 450 houses adjacent to Lizard Rock on Morgan Rd, Belrose.

MLALC-owned land near Lizard Rock, Belrose, where a development of 450 homes is proposed. Photo: Alec Smart

You can read its most recent history in our most recent Manly Observer report.

Regan’s reasoning

Mr Regan addressed the Chamber, saying “Precious bushland on the Northern Beaches should be protected for future generations … The petition before the House calls on the New South Wales Government to repeal the development delivery plan for the northern beaches that was developed in the previous term of government.

“The plan puts over 200 hectares of local bushland on a trajectory towards being cleared for housing and industrial use…”

Wakehurst MP Michael Regan and the Bushland Guardians in the NSW Parliament on 29 June. Photo: Alec Smart

He continued, “The proposal for a massive housing subdivision … is completely inappropriate. The first reason is the biodiversity value of the site. The Lizard Rock site adjoins the Garigal National Park and Narrabeen Lagoon State Park, and forms part of a wildlife corridor across private and public land. It provides habitat for iconic species of Australian wildlife—from powerful owls and red-crowned toadlets to spotted-tailed quolls and bandicoots.

“The second reason is the bushfire risk of developing the site. Surrounded by bushland and with constrained evacuation routes, the Northern Beaches Council states, “In its current form, the proposed development presents an unacceptable and, in some cases, a catastrophic risk to future residents.” Have we learnt nothing from the 2019 bushfires and the subsequent inquiry and Royal Commission? We must stop building homes where we know lives will be exposed to danger and where the lives of RFS and SES volunteers will be put in danger protecting them.

“The third reason is the inconsistency with strategic planning. The Lizard Rock proposal and development delivery plan are disconnected from the agreed strategic planning currently being undertaken to deliver more housing in Frenchs Forest and Brookvale. The Lizard Rock proposal would create a car-centric enclave that is not serviced by public transport.”

Wakehurst MP Michael Regan and the Bushland Guardians of the Northern Beaches present a 12,000 signature petition to the NSW Parliament on 29 June, campaigning to save the bushland around Lizard Rock in Belrose from a housing development. Photo: Alec Smart

Rory Amon, Matt Cross and James Griffin endorsed the petition in the NSW Parliamentary Chamber on 29 June and spoke eloquently of their support for the campaign to reject the Lizard Rock planning proposal.

Mr Amon raised the prospect of insufficient infrastructure and traffic congestion if the housing development proceeds. “There must be adequate infrastructure and services before any development. Whilst the proposal seeks approval for 450 dwellings, as a former councillor, I have seen this movie before and the ending is horrible. We know that developers will be receive approval for 450 lots and, once that approval is granted, we will see attempts to use State environmental planning policies to densify development.”

The Pittwater MP elaborated: “Those 450 lots could become 900 to 1,800 senior living units, or they could become boarding houses with thousands of residents. The gateway determination tries to prevent this. Does anyone sitting in the gallery, having seen this all before, really believe this cannot and will not be worked around?

“All in all, we could see thousands more cars on our roads and thousands of new residents for whom there is insufficient school space, open space, sports fields, bus services, health services, roads and more. I note that from mid‑July our bus timetable on the Northern Beaches is to be reduced.”

“The development simply does not generate the revenue needed to build and invest in the infrastructure and services required to accommodate the proposed growth.”

Land around Lizard Rock, Belrose, that has been targeted for 450 houses in a redevelopment scheme. Photo: Alec Smart

Mr Amon, a volunteer firefighter for Davidson Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade, also cited safety concerns. “Bounded by the Garigal National Park, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the Narrabeen Lagoon State Park, Pittwater is especially vulnerable to bushfires. Having borne witness to the horrors of the 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires on the front line as a volunteer firefighter, it would be an abrogation of my duty as a representative and volunteer to allow the proposal to be contemplated without reference to my lived experience of the risks of bushfire.

Rory Amon, Pittwater MP, addressing a Rally to Save Barrenjoey Headland at Palm Beach in January 2023. Photo: Alec Smart

“Having considered the bushfire expert reports prepared by the developer and by council, I am convinced that this development will put people, wildlife and property at catastrophic risk of death and destruction.”

Planning Minister’s response

Paul Scully MP, one of the key ministers to whom the petition is addressed, attended Mr Regan’s submission to the NSW Parliament on 29 June. After listening to the statements read by Michael Regan, Rory Amon, Matt Cross and James Griffin, Mr Scully summed up the situation and, interestingly, stated that ultimately the Rural Fire Service would have veto power over the approval.

Minister Scully responded:

“To clarify exactly where this planning proposal is up to, the Department of Planning and Environment issued a gateway determination with a number of conditions on 9 June this year. A period of three months has been set for those conditions to be incorporated into the proposal with a minimum 30‑day public exhibition.

“A further 40 working days must be provided for 15 authorities to consider the proposal. They include Transport for NSW, NSW SES, the Rural Fire Service, the Environment Protection Authority, the New South Wales and Commonwealth departments for the environment, and Sydney Water.

“Progression of the proposal now lies with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council. I note that any objections from the NSW Rural Fire Service would mean that the proposal will not progress, which will be of interest to those in the gallery.”

Paul Scully’s acknowledgement that the bushfire risks to a new housing development around Lizard Rock is a significant factor in determining its outcome is one which campaigners hope will sway the final decision-makers to reject the scheme and preserve the native bushland.

Campaigners opposed to a 450-home housing development alongside the proposed bushland site at Lizard Rock, Morgan Rd, Belrose. Photo: Alec Smart

Manly Observer previous reporting on Lizard Rock

https://manlyobserver.com.au/planning-panel-gives-nod-to-450-new-belrose-homes-minister-to-decide/

https://manlyobserver.com.au/indigenous-elders-join-calls-to-halt-proposed-lizard-rock-development/

https://manlyobserver.com.au/lizard-rock-development-debate-on-bushfire-prone-land-heats-up/

https://manlyobserver.com.au/mackellar-candidate-dr-sophie-scamps-proposal-for-mlalc-land-sale-solution/

https://manlyobserver.com.au/northern-beaches-council-oppose-native-bushland-redevelopment-proposals-as-inappropriate/

https://manlyobserver.com.au/rallies-to-save-northern-beaches-native-bushland-from-developers/

https://manlyobserver.com.au/proposal-for-450-new-houses-on-native-northern-beaches-bushland/

Northern Beaches Aboriginal Land Development Delivery Plan

https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/northern-beaches-aboriginal-land-development-delivery-plan

Sydney North Planning Panel June 2023 decision (download link)

https://apps.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/prweb/PRRestService/DocMgmt/v1/PublicDocuments/DATA-WORKATTACH-FILE%20PEC-DPE-EP-WORK%20RR-2022-35!20230531T065750.956%20GMT

 

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Manly Observer is an experiment in providing non-sensationalist hyperlocal news on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. We cover the big news across the LGA, but with a hyper focus on the Manly electorate encompassing Balgowlah, Seaforth, Freshwater, Brookvale and Curl Curl up to Dee Why. It is run by those living in the community for the benefit of an informed community. We care about an informed and connected community. That’s it. Simple. Thank you for your support in keeping quality local news alive!

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