Developer Duncan Hardie leaves town

Developer Duncan Hardie leaves town

BY FRAN THOMPSON
11 Aug, 2011 04:00 AM
DUNCAN Hardie, one of the most controversial developers in the Hunter, has left Australia for his native New Zealand and put his Hunter lands, possibly worth tens of millions of dollars, on the market.Mr Hardie told the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday from New Zealand he had ‘‘departed’’ Australia but would not elaborate.

Mr Hardie lives in Wellington, from where his Hardie Resources now explores for coal, coal seam gas and oil in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

He holds an estimated 10,000 hectares of land in the Hunter and around Gunnedah through his Bio Lands Pty Ltd.

When asked if all these lands were up for sale, Mr Hardie replied: ‘‘Some.’’

Mr Hardie developed projects such as the failed Hunter Economic Zone at Kurri Kurri and Huntlee near Branxton.

The residential and commercial project Sanctuary Villages around Ellalong, Millfield and Paxton’s historic mine site came unstuck in a planning controversy over Part 3A legislation.

Part of that holding, the Ellalong Lagoon and more than 400hectares around it, are advertised for sale by Jurds Real Estate.

Director Alan Jurd described Mr Hardie as a ‘‘genuine vendor’’ whose ‘‘instructions are to sell’’.

He said Mr Hardie left the country because of the difficulties in getting approvals for his projects.

The lagoon’s value was hard to establish but Mr Jurd said the NSW Government paid $17million to protect land south-west of Sydney at about $96,000 a hectare.

The lagoon is protected by state and federal environmental laws and was environmental offset land for the Sanctuary Villages development.

Ellalong Wetlands Protection Group president Roger Lewis said the lagoon should become a national park.

Mr Jurd said another 140hectares of Hardie land was for sale in Paxton and he had sold another 160 hectares around Millfield.

The lagoon is for sale by expressions of interest closing on September 30.

The Sydney-based Hardie Holdings would not comment.

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