Calls for halt to Redbank progress

A residents’ action group is calling for Hawkesbury Council to stop any progress of the North Richmond housing development until the completion of the ICAC enquiry into allegations of illegal developer donations.

The Redbank housing development on Grose Vale Road has been the subject of questions at the hearings over the past week at the Independent Commission Against Corruption enquiry.

North Richmond and Districts Community Action Association president, Beatriz Insausti, said in view of the evidence being produced, the project must not proceed further until the investigations are complete and the report available.

‘‘It must be Council’s highest priority to protect the community from any shady deals between developers and politicians,’’ she said.

The controversial 1400-home development has been heavily debated at Council in the past, with many councillors and community members concerned the development was not suited to the area due to the lack of infrastructure, lack of backing from the state government and the existing traffic congestion problems on Bells Line of Road and North Richmond bridge.

At the August 12 Council meeting prior to the current ICAC investigations, Councillor Leigh Williams put up an urgent notice of motion to put all development associated with the North Richmond rezoning on hold until the ICAC investigation into MPs was finalised.

Cr Williams said it was ‘‘a matter of supreme importance’’, also suggesting mayor Kim Ford look at his position on the matter, ‘‘considering it relates to Bassett, and you were his campaign manager, and have said he’s your best mate,’’ Cr Williams said.

Mayor Ford declined to declare a special interest, and the motion was lost on his casting vote.

In response to allegations arising from ICAC’s Operation Spicer, Council’s general manager Peter Jackson said the Commission had not yet handed down any findings, conclusions or recommendations.

‘‘Until this occurs it is difficult to determine what actions, if any, would be required or appropriate,’’ he said. ‘‘The rezoning of the Redbank site was finalised by the state government in April this year. Council has received a number of development applications in respect to the subdivision of parts of the site. At this stage Council has a legal requirement to process these applications.’’

Londonderry MP Bart Bassett, who will face allegations of accepting $18,000 in donations from developer Buildev for his 2010 state campaign, was slated to appear at ICAC yesterday, as was Mark Regent, contracted consultant to the Redbank North Richmond development.

Evidence presented at ICAC last week alleged that Nathan Tinkler’s property development company sought to influence Mr Bassett in his former role as Hawkesbury mayor over a housing development.

Following the allegation, Mr Bassett stood aside from his parliamentary role as Londonderry MP, joining the crossbench while investigations continue.

‘‘I reject this allegation and I look forward to my opportunity to clear my name,’’ Mr Bassett said.

Council general manager Peter Jackson said the state government’s Joint Regional Planning Panel was the determination authority for the Redbank proposal. A meeting date for the panel will be set once the assessment of the DA is complete.

● Last week Mark Regent was described as developer of the Redbank project. Mr Regent’s title is contracted consultant to the Redbank development.

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