New housing scheme in Belrose causes controversy

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Two senior government ministers are privately furious over plans to build hundreds of new homes in Sydney’s bushland, establishing a fresh political battleground for independents seeking to win the Northern Beaches Liberal seat at the March state election.

As the coalition is preparing to campaign on its environmental credentials to stave off the “blue-green” threat in next year’s pollgrowing concern over plans to clear bushland and build 450 homes at Lizard Rock in Belrose, advanced under new planning rules championed by Planning Minister Anthony Roberts, will provide local fuel for an independent campaign.

Local residents Nicole Romain (right) and Thea Harris (left) oppose plans to build hundreds of homes in bushland at Belrose.

Local residents Nicole Romain (right) and Thea Harris (left) oppose plans to build hundreds of homes in bushland at Belrose.Credit:Wolter Peeters

Local MPs, residents and some local councilors oppose the development, saying it will threaten endangered plants and animals, strain local infrastructure and create bushfire risks.

But the push has come from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, which owns the 71-hectare site and also wants to build a local cultural centre, recreational facilities and neighborhood shops.

The project is one of the first under new rules that allow some projects on indigenously owned land to bypass local council approval. Land Council chief executive Nathan Moran said he was “grateful for the leadership of Minister Roberts and the support of the Department of Planning and Environment” in developing the proposal.

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But outgoing senior ministers Rob Stokes and Brad Hazzard, whose electorates border the site, strongly oppose the proposal, as does the Liberal MP for Davidson and the Speaker of the NSW Legislative Assembly, Jonathan O’Dea. Environment Minister James Griffin, who is is being targeted in nearby Manly by teal opponent Joeline Hackman has also given cause for concern.

O’Dea said the land council had the same rights as any property owner to maximize the value of their land and he supported the idea of ​​a cultural centre. “But any development should be consistent with state, regional and local housing and infrastructure strategies and policies,” he said.

“That number of homes far exceeds any need predicted by any of the relevant authorities and there is insufficient infrastructure and services to support that scale of new housing. Other serious concerns relate to the potential for serious environmental damage and disruption to established wildlife corridors and the extreme bushfire danger.”

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