Anger at proposed changes to foreshore controls

Community groups fear that Georges River ridge-top vegetation (lefthand side) could be lost to dual occupancy development under a proposed reduction of the foreshore protection area in the former Hurstville local government area.
Community groups fear that Georges River ridge-top vegetation (lefthand side) could be lost to dual occupancy development under a proposed reduction of the foreshore protection area in the former Hurstville local government area.

Community groups have serious concerns about proposed changes to foreshore controls contained in Georges River Council's draft Local Environmental Plan as Sunday's deadline for submissions draws closer.

There are fears the proposed removal of more than 2300 properties from foreshore protection in the former Hurstville local government area will lead to increased density, a loss of trees and biodiversity and threaten water quality with pollution run-off.

The draft Georges River LEP 2020 proposes to expand the Foreshore Protection Area (FSPA) into the former Kogarah LGA adding approximately 1,297 lots.

But it also proposes to reduce the existing FSPA in the former Hurstville LGA removing approximately 2,380 lots.

A total of 1183 lots in Oatley will be removed from the foreshore protection zone, 253 lots in Mortdale, 282 in Peakhurst Heights, 114 in Peakhurst, 534 in Lugarno and 14 in Riverwood.

Sharyn Cullis of the Georges River Environmental Alliance said the changes would lead to a chainsaw massacre on the up-slopes and ridges of properties in the former Hurstville LGA.

"The adoption of the council's new draft Local Environment Plan will reduce lot sizes to enable an exploding number of dual occupancy dwellings throughout the suburbs from Oatley to Lugarno," Ms Cullis said.

"Georges River Council is ignoring its own expert study that found that the trees that frame and soften river views aren't always on the actual waterfront but on the up-slopes and ridge tops behind - on these properties council wants to remove from foreshore protection."

"The whole approach of the council is a single size fits all instead of saving the trees. The Foreshore Scenic Protection zone is about protecting the scenic amenity.

"But the council approach is about protecting a narrow strip along the foreshore. It is not about protecting trees on the slopes and the ridgetops."

Bob Jones, who was a planner with the former Kogarah Council, described the removal of the substantial area of the FSPA from the former Hurstville Council LGA as a total betrayal of the residents who live in the Oatley West, Mortdale and Peakhurst Heights, parts of Lugarno and Riverwood.

"The council's map as depicted in their proposed new FSPA area for the whole Georges River LGA is an over-representation as it includes areas under water, bushland and Hurstville Golf Course," Mr Jones said.

"To include these areas is to mislead the public and to give the impression that the FSPA is still a significant area within the LGA, where in fact approximately 50 per cent of properties within the current FSPA are being removed from the Draft LEP'2020.

"Previously, Hurstville Councillors recognised that beautiful views and wildlife values just didn't depend on waterfront properties but also on the steep rocky and bushy slopes behind the majestic trees on the ridgelines.

"The removal of over 2000 properties from the FSPA will see a dramatic increase in densities and hard surfaces which will radically change the neighbourhood character of those areas by diminishing the quality of the bushland, wetlands and the Georges River itself.

"Hurstville LEP'2012 states a 1000sq metre allotment is required for a dual occupancy. By removing the FSPA these properties will now only require 650sq metres in area.

"The Draft LEP'2020 provides an increase in densities by stealth and will lead to a diminished tree cover for the area.

"The removal of so much of the FSPA from the Draft LEP'2020 means that Biodiversity will be undermined.

"Council's planning proposal states that it will not adversely affect critical habitat, threatened species, populations of ecological communities or their habitats.

"This is total nonsense. Sharyn Cullis provided information from the NSW Government database and mapping program, which documents both threatened species and ecologicalcommunities within the affected FSPA such as the Powerful Owl, the Grey Headed Flying Fox and the Red Crowned Toadlet.

"For the Council to state that threatened species will not be affected is totally wrong and unacceptable.

"The removal of so much of the FSPA will threaten the water quality in the Georges River and is a critical threat to the swimming baths within Oatley Park.

"The main reason Georges River Council is removing so much of the FSPA is to allow Council to reach its 2036 housing target, set by the NSW Government, without any rezoning."

Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society Inc is strongly recommending retention of the existing Foreshore Scenic Protection Area as currently mapped under the Hurstville LEP 2012 and that it be carried forward to the proposed Georges River LEP 2020.

"Re-drawing of the FSPA to protect only a narrow band of immediate waterfront properties in this Planning Proposal is totally unacceptable," Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society Inc president Kim Wagstaff said.

"Merging the former Hurstville and Kogarah Council LEPs into one will tragically reduce the Protection Area by nearly 90 per cent in some areas on the Hurstville side and adds only a narrow band of protected foreshore properties, to the Kogarah side.

"Removal of thousands of properties from the protections of the existing Hurstville LEP FSPA will reduce minimum lot sizes, increase built densities, increase traffic and parking congestion and put greater pressure on recreational spaces.

"Reduction of the landscaping requirement from 25 per cent of a development site to just 20 per cent will also mean shrinkage of gardens, loss of neighbourhood leafiness, and very little space for trees on private land. These changes will detrimentally impact tree canopy, biodiversity values, scenic views, and increase stormwater runoff and pollution."

The Friends of Oatley have serious concerns saying the radical reduction of the existing Foreshore Scenic Protection Area (FSPA) under the Hurstville LEP will enable dual occupancy development.

According to president, Anne Wagstaff, "Apart from the removal of 2,380 properties from the FSPA from Oatley West through to Riverwood, we hold many reservations about the LEP process and the public exhibition of this important document.

"The harmonisation of the Hurstville LEP (which has an FSPA) with the Kogarah LEP (which doesn't have an FSPA) has descended to the lowest common denominator with the existing FSPA to be reduced by almost 90 per cent," Ms Wagstaff said.

"The map of the proposed FSPA is also misleading. Any increase in density of our neighbourhoods will result in less trees and vegetation, more traffic and parking congestion, and increased urban stormwater run-off resulting in more pollution of our waterways, including the Georges River," she said.

"Council failed to provide key information, namely the number of properties to be removed from the existing FSPA, not only to Council and the Local Planning Panel, but also to the public in a timely manner.

"Council ignored key issues, emerging directions and key principles identified in Foreshore Strategic Directions Paper. Council ignored the advice of its own expert environmental and planning staff.

"Council's biodiversity studies and Vegetation Mapping Report were not used to inform the draft LEP. Yet landscaping requirements have been weakened.

"Friends of Oatley will be requesting a Public Hearing to address their many concerns with Council's proposed reduction of the existing FSPA."

Submissions on the draft Georges River Council Local Environmental Plan 2020 close on Sunday, May 31:.