It is no coincidence that my first private member's statement in this place was about the proposed rezoning and development of the Lizard Rock site on Morgan Road, Belrose. This threat was a key motivation for me to stand at the March 2023 election. During the election campaign and since, the depth and breadth of community opposition has been crystal clear.
The 12,000‑strong petition I tabled in this place in June only reinforces this. Clearing high‑value bushland for a low‑density, 450‑home residential subdivision is outdated, is not strategic and is risky. The development of the Lizard Rock site is environmentally reckless, goes against good planning principles and is not in the public interest. It must be stopped.
Unfortunately, since my first private member's statement in May this year the proposal to rezone the Lizard Rock site has continued to progress through the planning system. On 15 June the proposal was cleared through gateway determination, which was extremely disappointing. Then, two weeks ago, the rezoning proposal opened for a six‑week public consultation, this time with a new name: Patyegarang. It was rebranded, yes, but it is essentially the same proposal to destroy 45 football fields of natural vegetation for a low-density residential subdivision in a location with high bushfire risk and limited infrastructure. Have we learned nothing from previous bushfire disasters?
In many ways, it is exasperating that Northern Beaches Council and the community is again being forced to jump through hoops to make their already well-established and well-founded opposition known. However, it is necessary. In fact, this is a crucial opportunity for to us make our voices heard. Submissions close on 7 November, and I encourage everyone in the community to participate and make a submission. I am totally committed to doing everything I can to oppose the progress of the rezoning proposal. In the coming weeks every letterbox in Wakehurst will receive a flyer with information and a submission that residents can post back to my office to be submitted on their behalf.
I am very much in favour of density done well; that is no secret. TheNorthern Beaches Local Housing Strategy makes clear that we are committed to meeting housing targets on the Northern Beaches—and we are doing so through adding density in strategic locations. This is consistent with good planning policy and the Government's stated vision for new dwellings to be concentrated close to infrastructure. Guess what? The Lizard Rock rezoning proposal is totally counter to that logic. With the Beaches Link tunnel now formally cancelled and with no plan B, we need to be even more judicious about the location and quantity of our new housing. The justifications for stopping Lizard Rock have not changed. There is the ecological impact, the lack of strategic planning merit and no supporting infrastructure. However, I particularly stress how managing bushfire risk has not been adequately addressed in this proposal.
As part of council's submission in the gateway determination, they commissioned advice from expert bushfire consultants Blackash. This assessment made clear that "The planning proposal has been developed on the premise of evacuation being provided by Morgan Road and a new slip lane onto Forest Way and a new emergency access onto Oates Place." Is that serious? "The availability and utility of both of these key aspects has not been demonstrated in the planning proposal and are fundamental enabling provisions for the proposal." These evacuation route issues remain unresolved, with the proposal currently on exhibition. I have spoken to firefighters who were in the field during the 1994 fires, which affected the suburbs sounding the Lizard Rock site, and the thought of having thousands of additional people to evacuate from the location is terrifying.
A local coastal engineer, Angus Gordon, OAM, has also recently brought to my attention the downstream implications of increased run-off if the development goes ahead. He outlines that this will have implications for the Wakehurst Parkway and will cause more flooding events. Additional run-off is the last thing we need at a time when flooding events are intensifying and we are trying to fix existing issues with Wakehurst Parkway. I ask the people of Wakehurst and the northern beaches to please make their submissions as soon as possible. I also encourage them to attend the information night being hosted by the Bushland Guardians at 6.30 p.m. on Thursday 19 October, next week, at Club Belrose. Let us protect Lizard Rock and stop this destructive and hazardous proposal from going any further. We must do this.