Exclusive Brethren fail in application to modify landscaping plan for controversial new Heathcote church

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Exclusive Brethren fail in application to modify landscaping plan for controversial new Heathcote church

Post by LadyKiwi » Fri May 11, 2018 12:20 am

Exclusive Brethren fail in application to modify landscaping plan for controversial new Heathcote church

An application by the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church to modify the approved landscaping plan for a controversial new 900-seat meeting hall at Heathcote has been refused.

The proposal included removing 35 trees in the south eastern portion of the site, leaving only 11 of the 46 trees that were to be retained in this area.

The church – also known as the Exclusive Brethren – submitted the proposal, including the planting of new trees, was to reduce bushfire risk.

However, the Sydney South Planning Panel said there were “no compelling reasons to support the proposal, noting the balance of environmental conservation and bushfire safety was given close, detailed and expert consideration at the development approval stage”.

A church spokesman said, “The local church community is disappointed with the decision and is now seeking further professional advice on what options may be available to them”.

Construction of the meeting hall as a place of worship has started and the church expects it to be a 12-month project.

The project on land at the end of Forum Drive, on the edge of Heathcote National Park, was strongly opposed by local residents and Sutherland Shire Council.

However, the Land and Environment Court approved it with a range of amendments in 2013.

The council assessed the proposed landscaping modification application and recommended it be refused.

The council said it could not establish whether there was another reason, apart from the suggested bushfire risk, for the requested modification

The regional panel unanimously refused the application.

Five residents spoke against the application at the hearing.

The minutes said, “No one spoke for the proposal, and no one attending for the applicant was willing to answer questions from the panel”.

“Representatives of the applicant instead requested the panel consider the written requests to defer the matter,” the minutes said.

The reasons for refusal included that the removal of additional trees would “not preserve or enhance the natural landscape setting of the locality as well as fails to protect and restore trees, bushland and scenic values particularly along ridge lines and in other areas of high visual significance”

The proposal would also result “in the destruction of significant environmental features in that the proposal results in the excessive removal of more 50 per cent of the existing trees”.

Another reason was it “would set an undesirable precedent for similar inappropriate development and therefore is not in the public interest”.


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