Friday, 4 September 2009

Community victory at Catherine Hill Bay

Via Socialist Alliance's NSW site:

Duroyan Fertl

Local activists scored a resounding victory against over-development on August 31, when the NSW Land and Environment Court overturned consent for a proposal to build 600 houses in the small coastal village of Catherine Hill Bay, near Newcastle, and another 187 houses at nearby Gwandalan.

While Justice Lloyd didn’t mention the $143,500 donation made by the developer Rosecorp to the ALP before the last state election, in his ruling he described the consent process as "biased", and a "land bribe in exchange for rezoning and associated development".

Last September, then planning minister Frank Sartor signed a binding deed with the developer that "committed" him to look favourably on the development, before the proposal had even been submitted for approval under the controversial Part 3A of the Planning Act.

The decision is likely to set a precedent preventing approvals that involve land swaps, where developers receive government development approvals in exchange for handing over private land for conservation purposes.

The case – run by Kirsty Ruddock for the NSW Environmental Defender's Office – could also have implications for a similar project at Branxton in the Hunter Valley, which locals are taking to the Land and Environment Court in October.

The battle against the development is not over, however. Planning Minister Kristina Keneally has promised that Rosecorp could still resubmit their plan for assessment by the Independent Planning Assessment Commission.

Duroyan Fertl is a Socialist Alliance activist in Sydney.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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