Public Bushland Land Grab – Sussex St Road Reserve

The owner of the former Scout land has approached council seeking to purchase the Sussex St unmade “paper road” reserve. Their intentions are to clear the land to create an asset protection zone and also erect buildings on the land. Building on this land will require extending an asset protection zone clearing onto the neighbouring council land (bushland currently being transferred to National Parks).

aerial-with-boundary-overlaysClick image to enlarge

This land is earmarked for transfer to National Parks along with the adjoining disused sanitary depot land. National Parks have stated they want the Sussex St reserve transferred to them.

Council has written to the neighbours adjoining the former Scout land asking for feedback. Public submissions can be made until Friday 30th August 2013. Please write to council and let them know you want this land transferred to National Parks.

The General Manager
Sutherland Shire Council
Locked Bag 17
Sutherland NSW 1499

Quote File Ref: CP/02/285112

Downloads:

  • An example letter for download [PDF] [DOC] [RTF]
  • Information sheet with more details [PDF]
  • Aerial photo with boundaries marked [PDF]
  • Map with boundaries marked [PDF]

If the developer is now arguing that they need to build on the public bushland along the ridge-line behind their property because the property is too steep perhaps they shouldn’t have bought it in the first place!

At first, the developer was asking to clear the Sussex St bushland for an asset protection zone. Now they want to build on it which will push the required asset protection zone further into neighbouring bushland. All this public land is earmarked for transfer to national parks.

Is this the beginning of a death by a thousand cuts or is the community going to stand up for the public interest and put a stop to this nonsense now? Is this an acceptable way to treat the Royal National Park – which is being nominated for world heritage listing?

Some points to consider:

  1. Sussex Street unmade paper road is situated on the ridgeline looking south and is heavily forested with a significant stand of old, slow-growing bloodwood mallee and dense understorey that holds the sand dune together
  2. NPWS have requested that Sussex Street unmade paper road is included as part of the transfer to them of the old Council Sanitary depot, for inclusion into the Royal National Park.
  3. If the new owner of the adjoining ex-Scout land succeeds in ownership of Sussex Street from Council, it will be cleared and developed, regardless of conservation and ecological values.
  4. If this public land becomes privately owned by the developer. It can be sold along with the ex-Scout land in the future for large scale development.
  5. Sussex Street and Spring Gully are the source of freshwater which feeds into the wetland, Bundeena Creek, and ultimately Horderns Beach.  Clearing and developing Sussex Street will affect the water quality and the health of Bundeena Creek.
  6. Has Council referred possible clearing of Sussex Street and Spring Gully to the Bundeena Creek Floodplain Management Committee for discussion under the current flood mitigation study being undertaken now?
  7. Sussex Street and the adjoining council Sanitary depot (see Map), are zoned E2, (environmental conservation) in the Draft SSLEP2013, due to their high environmental value.
  8. Clearing Sussex Street will create a scar in the bush land along the ridge line that will be visible across Bundeena and also across the water to other parts of the Shire.  It would also make the old Council night soil tip clearing visible.
  9. Any development of Sussex Street and Spring Gully would be a poor introduction to the gateway of the Coast Track, and the potential World Heritage Listing for the Royal National Park.
  10. The transfer of private costs to the community purse for Fire Brigade response for protection of Tourists, Staff and building infrastructure in a known High Fire Danger Area
  11. The cost to the Royal National Park for loss of one off the best examples of Bloodwood Mallee on the Australian Coast from clearing.

The current owner has paid a mere $325,000 for a massive 56,000 m2 piece of pristine bushland which they wish to significantly develop for their own private residence, kitchen area, sheds, unlimited number of cabins, toilets, showers and picnic areas.  This is all possible under the proposed zoning E2 with permissible uses “recreation camp” and “eco-tourism”.  The owner is now claiming that this is not enough land in which to build this development without causing significant environmental impacts.  In order to minimise this impact, the owner is seeking acquisition of Sussex Street that runs along the ridgeline.  This area would be cleared to provide a fire-break for the development, and a bigger building footprint, and in doing so create a massive ‘scar’ along the ridgeline. This acquisition represents a transfer of Public land for private profit.

bloodwood malleeCurrently, densely forested Sussex Street is home to a significant stand  of old bloodwood mallee and is likely to be one of the only group of it’s kind growing in Sydney Sandstone Gully forest this close to the coast. These are slow growing stems that have risen from large, mostly underground bulbous wood structures called lignotubers. This habitat has been considered worthy of including in a book promoting the listing of the RoyalNational Park for World Heritage Listing.

“The lignotubers on these bloodwoods are gigantic, covering many square metres. The stems in the picture may belong to one or a few individuals.”   (Excerpt from FirstNational Park, A Natural for World Heritage by Dr Geoff Mosley).

This magnificent stand of bloodwood mallee will be bulldozed for the sole purpose of assisting a development.  These trees have been dismissed as unimportant and disposable by a purported “eco-tourist” operator.   It is disconcerting that the developer does not want this land because of its ecological significance, to conserve and share with visitors to the National Park.  Rather, the owner would see these trees bulldozed.  This raises serious doubts about the credentials of the developer as an eco-tourist operator.

Council are zoning Sussex Street E2 due to its known environmental significance, the objectives of the zone are: To protect, manage and restore areas of high ecological, scientific, cultural or aesthetic values and to prevent development that could destroy, damage or otherwise have an adverse effect on those values. Council know that the intention for the road is to clear it for a fire-break and building works.  This is clearly in conflict with the objectives of the zone.  Zoning land for a use, then handing it over knowing that the intent for it was against the objectives of that zone is morally wrong.

It is wrong to assume that the ‘further away’ the development is the better it will be for residents. This is an inaccurate assumption as this is the part of Spring Gully that many residents in Bundeena (not just those backing onto the bush) can see and to obliterate it would impact hundreds of residents.  Further more, Council should consult with all  Bundeena residents as many will be affected by this proposal.   Only a small number of Beachcomber residents received notification from council about the request for road closure of Sussex Street.  At this level on the ridgeline, any clearing or development will allow residents to see directly into the development and vice versa.  In other words, we will have a situation where the residents of Bundeena, the occupants of the potential family residence, caretaker and tourists will be looking directly at each other.

The developer has no  pre-DA, no development application, no covenants or agreements on the land and no environmental credentials to our knowledge.  Council appears to be supportive of this development in spite of the local objection and with little regard for The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and regulations from relevant authorities.   The reasons for this are unclear.

Should the developer be successful in achieving the transfer of Public (Sussex Street) land into private owner ship from Council it can then be sold in the future along with the Scout land for an even larger scale development.

Development of this land will affect the health of Bundeena Creek by impacting the freshwater that flows downstream from here, cause greater siltation of the wetland and affect water quality in the creek in lower parts of Bundeena.

Has council referred the possible clearing of Sussex Street unmade paper road and neighbouring land to the Council’s Bundeena Creek Floodplain Management Committee for discussion in the current flood mitigation study underway?

There is the ongoing cost transfer, from the developer to the tax payers, for providing fire fighting responses; A response that the state must provide regardless of ownership of land and buildings.

Where is the Costing Study showing the Profit gained by the Developer verses the Loss to the Community, for this PublicLand transfer?

This is a public road and considering the high level of interest in it from 4 different parties namely the Developer,  National Parks and Wildlife Service, The Spring Gully Protection Group & local Bundeena residents it would make sense to investigate this matter further and not sell it off at this stage.  In order to prevent the road from being closed and sold to the Developer for their commercial gain please instruct council via a letter that Sussex Street should remain a public road and should not be closed and sold or leased under any circumstances to the Developer for their commercial gain.

Demand the land should be TRANSFERRED to NATIONAL PARKS and WILDLIFE SERVICE for inclusion in the RoyalNational Park along with the transfer of the Old Sanitary waste depot land.

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