Bundeena tourism options cause debate

Sutherland Shire Council has endorsed a report on tourism opportunities the Shire in its entirety despite it including a option for an Eco-tourism resort in Spring Gully, Bundeena which the council is opposing in the Land and Environment Court.

The report by consultants 2T Tourism Services says there is an opportunity for eco accommodation at the former Scouts land , 60-70 Bournemouth Street, Bundeena, known as Spring Gully.

The council has refused a development application for an eco-tourism resort on the site and is being challenged by the proponent in the Land and Environment Court.

At last night’s council meeting, Councillor Tom Croucher asked that the council not endorse the consultant’s proposal for an eco-tourism lodge at the site given that the council has refused the DA and it is defending its decision in court.

But Cr Kent Johns said the report should be endorsed in its entirety otherwise it could limit what is to be built on the land in the future.

“Council’s intention is already clear.It doesn’t change the council’s position,” he said.

“This will set in train a policy that would limit what is to be built on that land. This will sterilise that site for any future outcome.”

This could lead to the council having to buy the land or pay compensation.

Cr Kevin Schreiber supported him.

“It is a report that has been done by a consultant. It is not saying council is going to do it, simply a report,” he said.

Cr Croucher said he was not criticising the report.

“But one tiny part of the report says that a good idea would be to develop 60 - 70 Bournemouth Street, which is involved in litigation,” he said.

Cr Peter Towell asked that the mention of an eco-tourism resort at Bundeena be removed from the report until the decision of the court.

“If we endorse this report it may be seen that we endorse this development when we don’t. We should just take it out,” he said.

“I don’t want to skew any legal outcomes. We can endorse it for some future development of the site once the Land and Environment Court makes a decision.

“Until Land and Environment Court makes a decision we should not have an opinion one way or another.”

It was pointed out during the meeting that an eco-tourism resort was only mentioned in the report as a potential option but was not listed among the 11 particular projects that would be the most interesting.

The council decided to endorse the report in its entirety.

Spring Gully Protection Group spokesman Mark Da Silva said adoption of the report undermines the official policy adopted by the council supporting the conservation of the former Scout land at Spring Gully.

“We believe that the council’s endorsement of this report will undermine the official position of the council and may interfere with the council’s defence of its refusal of the development applications in the Land and Environment Court proceedings,” he said.