Heritage loophole ‘magically’ makes bushfire risk disappear

Number was up: Trees chopped down 150 metres from Heathcote Hall in Royal National Park last December.
Number was up: Trees chopped down 150 metres from Heathcote Hall in Royal National Park last December.

Two fire-related matters thicken the plot over the “farcical” Heathcote Hall DA process.

For decades, the Royal National Park’s Asset Protection Zone (APZ), which is supposed to protect homes along the park boundary behind Dillwynnia Grove and Tecoma Street, has remained heavily forested. 

Nearby, the state government and Sutherland Shire Council want to allow two 5-level sets of flats and many other townhouses totalling 55 units on the historic Heathcote Hall site. 

Such a development will create a huge bushfire and evacuation risk and have significant adverse effect on the amenity of the local area. 

So, as this DA is being assessed and after decades of the APZ remaining untouched, suddenly bulldozers and roaring chainsaws descend on the area of the national park right near the Heathcote Hall site. 

No one will ever convince us that the resulting destruction of ancient trees was just a coincidence and “routine maintenance”. Just like the removing of the heritage status of trees in nearby streets was a mere coincidence or a “mistake”.

The second matter relates to a dubious state government-inspired heritage loophole that has been discovered by wily developers. 

This heritage loophole magically makes the bushfire risk in this suburb disappear. Where much smaller developments like duplex or dual occupancy developments have been knocked back because the area is designated bushfire prone, suddenly the loophole makes it safe and good strategic planning to build 55 units on the edge of the national park!

The Sydney South Planning Panel get one last chance to protect this tiny, quiet and restricted community. 

We hope they use their considerable powers to adequately ensure our community will not be placed at risk by the proposed development and nor will any aspect of the amenity of the area be ‘‘significantly adversely effected’’ as required by law.

In the meantime what does our local state MP Lee Evans say, think and do and what are his duties to the community who elected him? 

Wally Koppe, Save Heathcote East