Kirrawee Brick Pit Site

About this Item
SubjectsHousing; Sutherland Shire Council; Parks
SpeakersCollier Mr Barry
BusinessPrivate Members Statements

Page: 16318

    Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda) [5.10 p.m.]: The Kirrawee Living Centre project got under way in June 2001. Kirrawee was jointly nominated for the Carr Government's Living Centres Program by Sutherland Shire Council and State Planning following the recommendation of Mr John Woodward. The former commissioner made the recommendation after extensive community consultation as the first step in the preparation of the council's new million-dollar local environmental plan [LEP]. The Kirrawee Living Centre project aimed at developing a sustainable and economically viable plan for the future of the suburb, the shopping centre, the railway station and the old brick pit site, as well as the surrounding residential and industrial areas. The project's clear objectives included the revitalisation of the town centre, which had lost its only bank, improving public transport, supporting employment opportunities, providing quality open space, as well as better designed and more diverse housing types.

    This 20-month project was a partnership between the shire council, the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources [DIPNR], the owner of the old brick pit site—Sydney Water—and the shire community. The partnership was supplemented by regular discussion with the Roads and Traffic Authority, the State Rail Authority and the chamber of commerce. The project started with a clean sheet and involved extensive community consultation with residents and local business owners from the very beginning. For the first time in the shire this was planning from the grassroots up.

    The project produced a Kirrawee master plan, which incorporated a detailed proposal for the rezoning of the old brick pit site on the edge of the shopping centre. The proposal was for a mix of residential and employment uses, plus the dedication of 20 per cent of the 4.5 hectare site as a public park. The master plan looked to the future, taking into account major State projects, such as the easy access upgrade of Kirrawee railway station as part of the Cronulla line duplication. The master plan, which included the brick pit proposal, went out for public exhibition twice as part of the people's LEP. In his letter of 2 June 2004 to Sutherland council, DIPNR's Director of Metropolitan Land and Resource Planning, Gary Prattley, said:

    … I am keen to ensure the plan delivers on the implementation of the Kirrawee master plan which has been a significant exercise involving extensive community consultation and demonstrating successful partnership of local and State Government.

    What has happened to the Kirrawee master plan? On 11 April 2005 newly elected shire councillor and former Rockdale mayor, Kent Johns, rammed through council 45 amendments to the people's LEP. The Kirrawee master plan and the old brick pit site were among his targets. With the help of the Liberal majority on the council, Councillor Johns moved that the brick pit site should be rezoned "employment" along the Princes Highway frontage and the remainder of the site be zoned "special uses", that is, leaving the status quo. He noted specifically:

    … educational establishments are a permissible use in both zones.

    He moved also that further reports be prepared and the opportunity for community consultation occur. Councillor Johns also moved that all buildings on the site be limited to a maximum of two storeys in height. Councillors well know that the brick pit site is a crucial part of the Kirrawee master plan and their motion effectively destroys the entire Kirrawee Living Centre project. But these sudden changes also raise some very significant questions which I want answered. Why does the present council want to waste $500,000 of taxpayers' money already spent by the State Government, thousands of council hours in professional staff time and tens of thousands of dollars of ratepayers' funds spent by the council on developing the Kirrawee master plan?

    Why is the council now ignoring the 20 months of extensive community consultation with residents of all ages and business firms that went into developing the master plan? Why is the council ignoring information gathered at 22 community events, workshops, business forums, reference group meetings, as well as from the Kirrawee Living Centre shopfront, established and maintained by the State Government in the main street of the shopping precinct? Why is the council ignoring feedback on the plan, gathered from five newsletters distributed to over 3,000 Kirrawee households throughout the course of the project? Why is council ignoring expert consultant reports on the brick pit, including everything from environmental, flora and fauna, landscaping, open space, traffic and transport to archaeological and Aboriginal heritage considerations? Why call for more reports when council already has access to these?

    Why does the council suddenly want the area rezoned when, in fact, the rezoning has been subject to extensive community consultation, public exhibition and tacit approval by the State Government? In particular, why does Councillor Johns suddenly and specifically request it be noted that "educational establishments" are a permissible use of the brick pit site when these were never included as part of the plan? Given that the area has State primary and secondary schools, Catholic colleges and a TAFE facility nearby, what kind of educational establishments does Councillor Johns and the new council have in mind? Have Councillor Johns and members of the new council majority had discussions with other bodies seeking to establish educational facilities on the old brick pit site? If so, with which institutions or bodies did that consultation take place? Why does the council not want 20 per cent of the brick pit site set aside as a public park, when there is a shortage of open space in the area? These are just some of the questions that must be asked and must be answered by the present council. As a majority stakeholder in the Kirrawee Living Centre project, I call on the Minister, the Hon. Craig Knowles, to find out the answers for my community as a matter of urgency. As I have said, these questions must be asked of this council and they must be answered and I call on the Minister to get Sutherland council to do so.