The NSW Government has fast-tracked a controversial, 260-home development at Macquariedale Road in Appin.
The government recently approved an amendment to the Wollondilly Local Environment Plan (2011) which will allow for development at the site.
The Department of Planning website states that the $70.6 million project was fast-tracked "to inject investment into the NSW economy and keep people in jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic".
The Walker Corporation development has faced criticism from both Wollondilly Council and members of the Appin community due to its size, impact on the environment and lack of infrastructure.
Wollondilly mayor Robert Khan said the council now awaits a development application (DA) from Walker Corporation for the site.
"At the meeting of February 18, 2019, council looked at a planning proposal for Macquariedale Road at Appin," he said.
"The council gave a lot of consideration to this proposal but determined not to support it due to concerns about infrastructure servicing.
"The NSW Government has now approved the land for housing, opening the way for the landowner to submit a DA.
"The council's role now is to work with the landowner to make sure that infrastructure is delivered to support the development and to achieve the best possible outcome for the community."
Walker Corporation first approached the council about 26 proposed homes for its Macquariedale Road development in 2015.
In 2019 the development company sought council approval on a planning proposal for a low and medium density residential development featuring 220 residential lots.
However, councillors voted against the proposal citing concerns about water and sewage, roads, koalas and noting 'significant community opposition'.
However, Walker Corporation spokesman Michael Cox said the company was working alongside the state government to ensure infrastructure was a top priority.
He said the Macquariedale Road development would provide 260 new homes and preserve almost 70 per cent of the land for conservation.
"The project will also create 141 much-needed jobs in Appin," Mr Cox said.
"The conservation land that will be protected on Macquariedale Road forms part of the 562 hectares of land that Walker is dedicating across the region under Western Sydney's new conservation plan."
Mr Cox said the 562 hectares of bushland that Walker would dedicate to conservation and open space across the region equates to three Centennial Parklands in size.
"This conservation land was considered as part of a scientific and regional approach to conservation and koala protection," he said.
"Securing large areas of land for conservation and wildlife corridors across Macarthur will help protect the local koala population into the future.
"The new homes in Macquariedale Road will connect to Appin Place and the Appin Inn, which underwent a $1.2 million restoration by Walker in 2018.
"We are proud to have been able to restore such a historical treasure of Appin and are equally excited to be able to share this wonderful link to the history of the Macarthur region with more families.
"Walker has been a part of the Appin community for more than a decade and we are committed to ensuring we deliver the infrastructure the community deserves.
"We are already working with NSW Government agencies to carefully plan and deliver important infrastructure."
Development causes "grave concerns" for Appin's koalas
Appin resident Sue Gay said she was shocked and horrified to learn that the development had been fast-tracked by the government.
She said she held grave concerns for Appin's koalas because part of the development had been identified as a koala corridor.
"The community don't want it and the council don't want it, so it's pretty upsetting," she said.
"They fast-tracked it to create jobs, but I don't think it is a good idea until there is a plan in place for the whole Macarthur growth area, including Appin.
"The water and sewage system won't cope, stormwater run-off could affect the Georges River, it would play havoc with Appin Road; and how will Appin Public School cope when it is already at capacity?
"How will Campbelltown Hospital cope? How will the Appin shops cope because parking there is already pretty bad?"
Wollondilly east ward councillor Matthew Deeth said key infrastructure issues around the site still needed to be addressed.
"Appin Road is at a stand-still during peak times and we have been calling for a bypass of the Appin township for a long time," he said.
"I am worried about what adding an additional 260 houses to Appin will mean for the town.
"Back in 2019, we raised issues with access to water and sewage and those issues have yet to be addressed by the proponent.
"We have been working on the Koala Plan of Management and it would have been good to have that in place before this was approved.
"We have the only growing colony of koalas in NSW, and they are disease-free, so it's really important that we get that plan right.
"The state government has approved the rezoning, so now it's our responsibility to do everything we can to get the best outcome for Appin residents."