RESIDENTS of The Islands Estate at Kurrajong Hills sounded loud alarm bells to each other last Friday when they first heard about a proposal for a 450-lot estate next to their own, due to come before Hawkesbury Council last night.
The Islands Estate, on Hermitage Road, comprises precincts known as Little Island, Middle Island and Big Island. The current 32-lot housing estate is on Little Island.
The proposal, put forward by Mountain Island Pty Ltd, is to rezone Middle Island to allow 450 lots varying in size with a minimum of 2000m2 (half an acre). The land on Middle Island is currently zoned for a minimum lot size of 40ha (100 acres).
Residents said it was their understanding that the original Islands estate development of 32 lots of around three acres (1.2ha) each, which were significantly under the minimum rural lot size at the time of 10 acres (four hectares), was only allowed on the proviso that no further development take place on the property.
However the property was put up for sale in 2007 just before its owner Howard Harris, died, and residents say the new owners ‘‘have different ideas’’.
The issue is further muddied by a DA for the property approved by Council in 1989 which allowed 199 rural residential lots, a 200-room hotel, a country club, equestrian centre, tennis courts, swimming pool, 300-car carpark, a nine-hole golf course, an 18-hole golf course and a clubhouse.
The current owners say work was commenced on that DA, which means the DA is still viable, but Council says their advice is that work wasn’t commenced and so the DA was no longer valid. Council said the current owner intends to pursue the issue of the old DA’s viability.
Council staff have recommended the current 450-lot proposal be rejected on a host of grounds. These included inadequate water provision, lack of a sewerage plan, no consultation with RMS on traffic impact, concerns over evacuation route in event of a major fire as there is only one access road, and the plan being inconsistent with Council’s Residential Land Strategy, the State Government’s Metro Plan and the draft North West Subregional Strategy. Staff concluded that the proposal ‘‘has no merit and is not worthy of support’’.
However residents are concerned that the 450-lot proposal is just an opening gambit. While they were confident the current plan would be rejected this time by Council, they think it will likely be followed by a smaller and less outrageous proposal, which may have a chance of getting through.
A resident who did not wish to be named said just the idea of what would happen on bin night was a nightmare. ‘‘There are currently 60 bins out on the road (when it’s recycling night as well) — what would it be like with 900 bins?’’ he said, saying they wouldn’t fit in the cul de sac outside the estate’s gates