Huntley zoning decision prompts backlash

Three Wollongong councillors have joined forces in a bid to reverse a council decision to forge ahead with rezoning plans for the former Huntley Colliery site.The council's final meeting of 2011 passed a controversial draft planning proposal from HTT Huntley Heritage to rezone 178ha of former colliery land, some of which is environmentally sensitive.The rezoned land would pave the way for up to 470 houses to be built near the already-approved Greg Norman golf course.But Greens councillors Jill Merrin and George Takacs want the decision overturned for environmental reasons and have joined with independent councillor Vicki Curran to call for a recision of the council's December 12 decision.The councillors claim that allowing the proposal to proceed flies in the face of a plethora of local, regional, state and national policies and strategies put in place to protect environmental biodiversity.They say that if the proposal goes ahead it will set a dangerous precedent by allowing residential development in large areas with endangered ecological communities.The trio's concern comes despite assurances from HTT Huntley that most of the area at risk would be retained and protected."There is major opposition to this proposal by a number of government organisations and community groups who are concerned over environmental impacts," Cr Merrin said."We don't want to see the council thumb its nose at state government agencies and environmental legislation."What is the use of spending the time as a council developing all these plans, policies and strategies if when it comes to the crunch we aren't going to act on them?"If the recision bid is successful, Cr Merrin said she intends to call for the rezoning to be rejected altogether.HTT Huntley, headed by business partners Ken Tugrul, Robert Renshall and Chris Frederick, bought the site near Avondale Rd in 2001.The company's plans have been significantly scaled back compared with the original 2006 proposal, which earmarked the development of almost 500ha.

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