The proponents met with the Forum Committee on 1st May to talk about a potential rezoning of land. They provided just a one-page map on which the subject land area was shaded. In declining their request for input from the Committee, it was explained that the Committee’s role is to inform the community, seek its views and advise Council.
The Committee strongly encouraged the proponents to consult with the community prior to commencing the planning proposal process. To date this has not happened, and the statement in the Proposal that the land owners consulted with the Berry Forum and provided a concept plan detailing the Planning Proposal is incorrect.
The Forum continues to strongly encourage the proponents to genuinely engage with the community. They should be required to submit, as part of their planning proposal, a Social Impact Report, which includes proper community consultation.
The draft Planning Proposal was discussed at the Forum public meeting on 12 October. Many aspects of the Proposal were covered and several concerns were raised by Forum members. It was clear that the meeting did not support the Proposal and this was confirmed by a unanimous vote of 86 residents based on the following points
- The Shoalhaven Growth Management Strategy (GMS) identifies Long Term Investigation (15+ years) land for potential future development. In this context, the LTI land only includes Lots 762 & 763, and this is the only land that should be considered for rezoning at the appropriate time.
- The Proposal claims that the available land for sale within Huntingdale Park Estate could possibly be exhausted within twelve months. The claim is based on an unrealistic extrapolation of recent sales activity and makes no reference to the number of dwellings that will eventuate in the medium density lots. It is far too early to determine the future course of demand, especially given the slowdown in the Sydney property market.
- In considering any future potential shortage of land in Berry, Council’s support for the Moss Vale Rd major land release as the focus for residential development should be taken into account, especially since the Berry to Bomaderry Highway upgrade is now funded.
- Huntingdale (including medium density lots) will contain close to 300 dwellings, of which only a small proportion are built. This Proposal would add another 130 to 150 dwellings. In total, these developments will result in an overall increase in dwellings in Berry of around 35%, with an associated major impact on services and infrastructure requirements. Consequently, the community has concerns over the following risks which the proponents should be asked to address: Impacts on school population and resources; Public transport options for residents; Visual impact for the Berry township, etc; Other relevant infrastructure components
- From a driver/pedestrian perspective, the impact on traffic flows on HPE Road from 150 additional dwellings will need to be measured through technical analysis. HPE resident concerns about an increase in traffic incidents/accidents on the single entry/exit road will need to be addressed.
- The Subject Land provides a crucial buffer between the new Bypass and the HPE residential development at the southern gateway to the historic town of Berry. An “urban expansion” into the subject land would effectively remove the look and feel of a gateway. The inclusion of a small lot (350sqm) area so close to the Highway would also create and accentuate an uncharacteristic urban aspect to the southern entrance to the town and deter tourists from visiting. Diminishing the attractiveness of the southern gateway and its impact on tourism should be addressed by the proponents.
- Theme 4 in the Berry Strategic Plan emphasises “preservation of the town’s heritage character and “village feel” as one of the very high priorities, including the context of the town within the surrounding rural landscape.” Strategic Focus item 4.2 refers to minimising “residential subdivisions and housing releases at the rural interface.” The proponents should be asked to specifically address these issues.
- The comparison of the proposed minimum lot size of 500m2 with that of Huntingdale Park is misleading, as the vast majority of lots in HPE are significantly larger than 500m2. The following reference in the Proposal to lot sizes in 6.5.2 must be much more specific. What exactly does “generous lot sizes” mean? – “These plans have determined that the site would likely accommodate in the order of 130 residential allotments. This number of allotments is based upon generous lot sizes consistent with the density and character of prevailing development within the Berry Township.”