Environmental zone could make way for new homes

The controversial rezoning of environmentally sensitive land at Helensburgh remains unresolved, after the regional planning authority recommended some of Wollongong City Council's hard-fought plans for the area be deferred.

The council's decision last July to earmark most of the area formerly known as 7D lands for environmental conservation was regarded as the solution to a debate that had lasted for more than 30 years.

However, in February NSW Planning decided the Joint Regional Planning Panel had to step in because of a competing proposal from companies and residents who own hundreds of hectares of the affected land.

After several months of deliberations and heated meetings between land owners and environmentalists, the panel last week handed down its findings.

It recommended the council's plans for precincts around Lady Carrington Drive, Otford and North Otford be deferred to allow the development of a new proposal which would make way for residential development.

However, the panel agreed the council's proposal for an environmental zone should be maintained for 23.2 hectares on the southern side of Otford Road known as the Land Pooling site.

The 207 lots in the Land Pooling precinct are owned by 94 people or companies. Most landowners have owned their blocks for decades, after buying them in the 1970s and '80s under the assumption they would one day be able to build.

The panel's report will now be considered by NSW Planning.


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