The Berejiklian Government’s breach of the Heritage Act has paved the way for a controversial cemetery development that will destroy one of the last green vistas in south-west Sydney.
Member for Macquarie Fields Anoulack Chanthivong has campaigned against the 136,000-plot cemetery in the Scenic Hills since before his election in 2015. He has labelled the Independent Planning Commission’s approval of the Varroville development application as the final nail in the coffin for the Scenic Hills.
“The Scenic Hills provide a crucial green space buffer in a city that is being hit hard by overdevelopment,” Mr Chanthivong said.
“I vehemently reject the Independent Planning Commission’s view that the cemetery is in the public interest. The only interest the cemetery will serve is the Catholic Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust – aided and abetted by a developer-driven Liberal Government.”
Mr Chanthivong has condemned two successive Heritage Ministers for failing to protect the vital green space corridor that offers significant environmental and heritage value.
“For 20 months, two successive Ministers were in breach of the Heritage Act by failing to decide whether or not to accept a Heritage Council recommendation to protect land surrounding Varroville Homestead – a decision that could have made the cemetery development untenable.”
The Heritage Council made its recommendation on 28 September 2017 to list an extension of the land surrounding Varroville Homestead on the State Heritage Register. The then Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton breached the Heritage Act by failing to make a decision on the listing within the required 14 days. A year later Ms Upton asked the Independent Planning Commission to review the case despite her inaction breaching the Act.
The next Minister, Don Harwin, continued to breach the Heritage Act by not making a decision when he took over the portfolio after the March 2019 election.
“Instead of taking action, two Ministers sat on their hands and now the overdevelopment floodgates have been opened in the Scenic Hills which are affectionately known as the green lungs of Campbelltown,” Mr Chanthivong said.
In a further blow to local residents, the Independent Planning Commission revealed that if the heritage listing had been approved by the Ministers, the cemetery development application would have been subjected to more intensive scrutiny under the Heritage Act.
Mr Chanthivong said the green light for the controversial cemetery was another example of the Berejiklian Government putting developers first.
“Local residents expected the Liberal Government to protect the Scenic Hills that has major heritage significance and provides valuable open space for our growing community,” he said.
“Instead, this disastrous decision to approve the cemetery will set in motion a devastating domino effect of new development applications, with the green rolling hills set to be further swallowed up by an extensive road network, function centre and cafes.
“The insidious incremental nature of this development will forever destroy the Scenic Hills, not enhance it.”
A Timeline of the Berejiklian Government’s inaction and procrastination that led to the beginning of the end of the Scenic Hills.