Perilous Heathcote fire situation

We have seen in recent weeks the sheer devastation caused by the out of control bushfires which have raced through this state like a spark to a gallon of petrol. There have been at least two reported cases of arson within the Royal National Park in recent weeks. It seems the 'Royal' is always on fire and the Heathcote Oval 'airport' is always crowded with helicopters and emergency vehicles fighting local fires. Hats off off to the firefighters who protect us.

Local residents of Heathcote have just been advised that the next Sydney South Planning Panel meeting to determine the future of the outrageous and dangerous Heathcote Hall DA has been set down for Friday 13 December at 1230. What a shame it is so close to Christmas. But perhaps it is timely in this horrendous bushfire season that the Panel members will have at the top of their minds the perilous situation we are in at Heathcote. Heathcote East has only one entrance in and one exit over a tiny bridge. We are surrounded on three sides by the tinder dry Royal National Park. The Heathcote Hall is in some of the most picturesque, greenest and quietest streets in the Shire and we keep asking how did this overdevelopment proposal get to this stage? Why is our amenity allowed to be threatened for the sake of a group of developers with the finances and resources to keep challenging our every move to protect our tiny suburb.

Because of the bushfire and environmental risks East Heathcote is not permitted by the state government's NSW Rural Fire Service and Sutherland Shire Council to have duplex or dual occupancy development. Council sensibly, with its E 4 protective zoning, does not want to increase the number of people at risk and impede access for emergency vehicles. Residents agree with SSC who state this ban is 'sensible planning strategy'.

Then, how is it that the NSW RFS, SSC and NSW State Government can allow two sets of ugly 5 level flats and a total of 55 units and town houses in this isolated bush fire prone area. We ask where is the sensible planning strategy? The curious heritage loophole should not be allowed to prevail. Perhaps, just perhaps the Sydney South Planning Panel on December 13 can clear this up once and for all. Get out the extra chairs because there will be yet another full house turning up to listen and have their say.

Patrick Kennedy, Heathcote

Residents Against Overdevelopment