THE proposed Navua Bridge will not be voted on by Hawkesbury Councillors, but rather assessed by Council staff then peer reviewed by Penrith City Council staff.
The North Richmond Joint Venture, the developers behind Redbank, has submitted a planning proposal under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
Submitting the DA in this way, removes Hawkesbury Councillors from voting on the DA.
Hawkesbury Council staff will assess the DA to see whether it meets the relevant regulations, and then its decision will be peer reviewed by Penrith City Council staff.
Hawkesbury director of planning Matthew Owens said this made the process more transparent.
“Hawkesbury City Council will be reviewing the documents submitted as the Review of Environmental Factors for the Bridge proposal,” he said.
“[Hawkesbury] Council will then have staff at Penrith City Council peer review the documents and assessment. Penrith Council are not “making a call on whether to allow the bridge” but are simply peer reviewing the matter to provide Hawkesbury Council and the community with additional transparency in this assessment.”
If the DA gets the tick of approval, the bridge will be built, and if not, nearly $24 million will be given to the state government by the developers for future infrastructure.
When developing land, the developers are required to either build some form of local infrastructure, or provide money to Council or the government to build the said infrastructure.
The proposed bridge is part of $55 million the NRJV will spend on public infrastructure, in exchange for developing houses at Redbank.
A DA was submitted to Hawkesbury Council last year over this issue, however, NRJV withdrew it, and resubmitted it through the Part 5 process.
The proposal has faced stiff opposition. There are concerns the bridge would destroy a pristine pocket of land in the Hawkesbury, while others object on the grounds the bridge would do little to ease the traffic problems which plague the Hawkesbury.
A 2016 traffic study by AECOM, supplied with the DA, estimated the proposed bridge would reduce the amount of traffic on North Richmond Bridge by as much as 30 per cent.
The report added that in times of significant flooding, evacuation time would be reduced by six hours
Redbank project director Mark Regent said he was pleased politics would be removed from the equation when the time came to make a decision.