Wide-scale development in Cherrybrook and the rezoning of nearby South Dural are shaping as battleground issues in Saturday’s Hornsby Shire Council elections, as the long-awaited Sydney Metro nears.
Cherrybrook will have its own station when the line opens in 2019, while the portion of South Dural between Old Northern Road and New Line Road lies close to new stations in Cherrybrook and Castle Hill.
Greens mayoral candidate Emma Heyde said that the arrival of the Sydney Metro does not justify many of the proposed developments in the area, rejecting the notion that mass development is an inevitable consequence of new public transport services.
“Other areas (around new public transport services) have been blighted by poorly planned development that has nothing to do with the community it now sits in, (it) doesn’t mean that we should replicate that”, Ms Heyde said.
“To impose ugly and arid and developer-centred buildings on a beautiful suburb like Cherrybrook is an outrage”.
Ms Heyde also said that, if elected, she would oppose any rezoning of the rural, environmentally-zoned portion of South Dural.
“Landholders have moved there because they love the rural landscape and they don’t want to see apartments in paddocks”, Ms Heyde said.
However, Liberal Ward C candidate and deputy mayor Michael Hutchence said that redevelopment in the two neighbouring areas was not only an inevitable part of its growing connection with the rest of Sydney, but also presented opportunities for the region.
To impose ugly and arid and developer-centred buildings on a beautiful suburb like Cherrybrook is an outrage
“You’ll actually have vibrant shopping areas, you’ll have an increase in the capacity of the schools, hopefully an increase in transport infrastructure as well”, Cr Hutchence said.
Calls to develop South Dural arose throughout the last council term. The most recent proposal, deferred in February, called for up to 2,900 dwellings to be built on the 240-hectare site over the next 15 years. It would retain 62 hectares of high-quality bushland on the site, though under “public recreation” zoning, which would allow for more public amenities.
Cr Hutchence said that allowing for some human activity in the South Dural bushland would see “residents being able to enjoy it”.
“If you have a look at some of the walking trails we have… throughout all of Hornsby Shire, it’s done in such a way where the environment actually co-exists with activities”, Cr Hutchence said.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment declared Cherrybrook as one of 16 new “priority precincts” in June. The move aims to boost housing and jobs, and allows the State Government to oversee the “fast-tracking” of new developments around the new Cherrybrook station.
Ms Heyde criticised this move, which she says will allow the State Government to bypass the community consultation procedures present at a local government level.
“We don’t think that’s acceptable, because the community must have a say in the type of development that goes on in their area”.
Cr Hutchence, while admitting that those fears were legitimate, downplayed the significance of the State Government’s move.
“I can understand why (residents) are concerned… (but) I think there’s a lot more water to go under the bridge before any rezoning takes place, and I think that (Hornsby Shire Council) is going to be a good conduit for residents to raise their concerns with us, for us to lobby on their behalf”, Cr Hutchence said.
Hornsby Shire Council voters will elect nine councillors and a mayor.