Panel to examine northern suburbs rezone

Wollongong City Council’s plans to rezone 1556 hectares of environmentally sensitive land surrounding Helensburgh, Otford and Stanwell Park have hit a procedural snag in the NSW Government planning process.

On Wednesday the NSW Planning’s deputy director general Richard Pearson announced the council’s rezoning plans for the area, formally known as 7d lands, would be referred to the independent Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) for further review.

The council’s decision to earmark most of the land for environmental conservation was made last July and was regarded as the resolution to a debate between landowners and environmentalists which has spanned more than 30 years.

Helensburgh rezoning angers landowners

However, Mr Pearson said the JRPP new needed to step in because of a competing planning proposal from Otford landholder Ensile Pty Ltd - which holds hundreds of hectares of land - and the Helensburgh Land Pooling Group.

The landholders requested a review from the regional panel under planning legislation because Wollongong council had not supported the group’s proposal, he said.

Mr Pearson noted there had been a range of views on the future of Helensburgh land, which were included in more than 58,000 submissions to the council’s last round of community consultation.

‘‘The central issue is whether new urban development on the fringe of Helensburgh should be allowed and whether this would impact the area’s significant environmental values,’’ Mr Pearson said. 

‘‘Consideration of the proposals by the JRPP will  ensure the merits of each plan are thoroughly, independently and transparently reviewed.’’

‘‘Following its review, the JRPP will provide advice to the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure on whether either of the proposals should proceed in their current form, or whether further amendments are required.’’

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