Huntlee: NSW’s biggest Residential Development Challenged Again

18 months after the NSW Land and Environment Court overturned NSW’ largest residential development for 7500 houses at Branxton in the Hunter Valley the issue  will come before the court again on 22-24 June.

Local resident will travel to Sydney each day to be observe the hearing.

Local residents group President Chris Parker said “In 2009 we said this was a biased decision and the court backed us up. Now we are saying it is still biased and we want the court to overturn it again.”

“To simply tear up a bit of paper, the Memorandum of Understanding signed by then Planning Minister Frank Sartor, and then approve  the same development doesn’t cut the mustard with us. We are asking the court to find that the approval, made four days before Christmas 2010, was biased and should be thrown out.” Mr Parker said.

Mr Parker also said the Government had failed to take into account the contamination present on the site when approving the development.  ‘Part of this site contains hundreds of thousands of tonnes of coal chitter resulting in acid leachate. In some places the site was used for a landfill operation. . No one knows exactly what has been dumped on that site.’

‘We are asking the court to rule on whether the Government had the power to approve the land for residential use when there was no management plan to rehabilitate the site.’

Cessnock Councillor James Ryan said the Huntlee site was a good example of how the previous Labor Government used Part 3A planning laws to make bad planning decisions.

‘We know that this site was identified by  planning professionals as being the least suitable in the lower Hunter Valley for large scale development.’

‘We know that this development has a real chance of causing the critically endangered persoonia pauciflora to become extinct.’

‘We know it will be a car based satellite city 60 kilometres away from the employment centre of Newcastle and even further from the Upper Hunter coal industry.’

‘We know there are no plans for increased rail services.’

‘Despite all these issues it was approved. In every respect the Huntlee development is a symbol of how bad and unsustainable planning has become in NSW. We can only hope the Court overturns the approval and NSW does not continue to make planning decisions as bad as Huntlee into the future.’ said Mr Ryan.

Chris Parker  President, Sweetwater Action Group   0434 332217

James Ryan  Cessnock City Councillor  – 0414 922 591

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