Protesters urge planners to protect Gilead's trees and dams

Willing to fight: Protesters opposed to plans for a giant housing estate at Mount Gilead rally outside Campbelltown Council: Picture Jeff McGill.
Willing to fight: Protesters opposed to plans for a giant housing estate at Mount Gilead rally outside Campbelltown Council: Picture Jeff McGill.

Placard-holding protesters hoping to prevent the imminent wholesale removal of trees and de-watering of dams at the historic Mount Gilead property staged a small but passionate demonstration outside the Campbelltown Council building this afternoon.

The protest rally, from 1pm-3pm, was held immediately before members of the Campbelltown Local Planning Panel were due to consider an application to clear the farmland site in preparation for stage one of a new 1700-home housing estate.

Residents opposed to the controversial development lost a battle in the Land and Environment Court last year to stop the farmland being rezoned.

Developer Lendlease wants to begin earthworks on the site despite not yet having formal approval to construct the housing estate it wants called Figtree, located along Appin Road just south of Rosemeadow.

Protest organiser and Appin resident Sue Gay said the proposed housing estate was "poorly planned" and did not adequately address air quality, water availability and sewerage issues.

"If Lendlease get permission to clear this land and then for some reason the estate gets knocked back, the entire landscape will have been destroyed," she said.

"It's a case of the cart coming before the horse."

Protest participant and Georges River Environmental Alliance spokeswoman Sharyn Cullis urged Lendlease to keep the trees and dams at Mount Gilead saying water sensitive urban design was becoming the norm in Australia.

"Everywhere else is keeping water in the landscape, it cools the land, it provides habitat for wildlife and is visually attractive," she said.

"The housing estate that Lendlease has planned for this site will be hot, arid and waterless."

National Parks Association Macarthur branch spokeswoman Julie Shepherd was another face at the rally.

"We are very concerned about the loss of Campbelltown's unique environment, assets and heritage," she said.

"We want best practice development but we're not seeing it."

Blairmount resident Cheryl Egan said she participated in the protest because Campbelltown had "already lost too much of its green space".

"We must protect what we have left," she said. "The more trees we remove the hotter it's going to get.

A comprehensive report prepared by Campbelltown Council staff for the four-person Local Planning Panel recommended that Lendlease be allowed to start earthworks at the site.

"The site is considered to be suitable for the proposed earthworks, as the land is located within an urban release area and has been zoned to provide for future residential development," the report states.

"Accordingly, the development is considered appropriate for the site and the application is recommended for approval."

Numerous speakers were slated to address the panel in opposition to the recommendation.

Panel members are expected to make public their decision on the matter by week's end.