THE greatest overdevelopment threat to Hunters Hill will come from the State Government – not the heritage muncipality’s new planning panel – former Mayor Richard Quinn said this week.
Mr Quinn is a community repsentative on the new planning panel and while he shares the current council’s opposition to panels usurping councillors right to determine development applications he has no illusions about where the threat to Hunters Hill will come from.
“The planning panel will not change Hunters Hill’s Local Environment Plan and Development Control Plan, which are there to protect our natural environment and our built environment,” he said.
“But large scale developments come out of the protection of the LEP and DCP because they become State significant.
“These are the development applications we are most concerned about because they are the ones which will be decided by bureaucrats, who don’t live in Hunters Hill and will not be concerned with a greater impact a large development will have on the environment and on the look and feel of Hunters Hill.”
Mr Quinn said the Gladesville shopping centre proposal is an example of where councillors had rejected applications and the developer had sought ‘Gateway Approval’ from the State Government.
Although Hunters Hill council recently held a public meeting to discuss this proposed development and will submit community comments, the fate of this proposal will be decided by the State Government.
The more large scale developments, the greater the risk, he argues.
“I totally agree we are seeing more high density, multi-storey developments and that more developments will have more impact.,” he said.
“It will impact on people’s lifestyle in all sorts of ways, particularly on the natural environment as our green space will be used by a much larger population.”
Small businesses face a particular risk of being sandwiched between larger developments and small, traditional shops face the risk of being undercut by larger neighbouring competitors.
“As we’ve seen in many areas where developers have purchased surrounding sites the small shop will find itself in a much more competitive environment, especially when the development will have an anchor tenant, like a supermarket.”
The former Mayor nonetheless regards his role on the planning panel as being an advocate for what Hunters Hill people value about Hunters Hill.
A frequent example he uses are the Cotswalds in England where strict planning controls have preserved and protected picturesque villages to the extent that they have become major and lucrative tourist destinations.
“We want Hunters Hill to be a tourist destination and our own unique picturesque, heritage municipality with beautiful parks and gardens,” he said.
“I want to help the panel, the outstanding panel of experts we have, understand the jewel we have here in our natural and built environments.”