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Last Saturday a large group of angry residents gathered in MacArthur Park at Kellyville. Angry at the Hills Shire Council and the State Government for selling them out.
The issue is with Lot 301 Samantha Riley Drive Kellyville, where a major development appears to be being pushed through against the wishes of residents.
This is development applications O’Farrell Government style, and it is nothing short of riding roughshod over local residents. Given this is also one of the safest Liberal seats in the state, it is fair to say that voters expected a bit more loyalty, a bit more respect, and a damn site more honesty than what is being delivered.
The development in question includes 2 high-rise blocks of residential dwellings, each one 25 storeys high. There is, as yet, no plans by council, or state government, to upgrade the road to cope with the thousands of extra vehicles that will pour onto the already overloaded Samantha Riley Drive next to the T-Way car park. Then again, there are no planned upgrades to the road to cope with extra traffic here if the North West Rail Link ever happens either…
This will cause chaos not only on Samantha Riley Drive, and congestion in surrounding residential streets, but it will also add another clogged artery on Old Windsor Rd. You see, this is not just a residential slum being planned, it is actually meant to be a Town Centre, complete with a supermarket and all. Imagine Old Windsor Rd as traffic banks up to try and access the area via one roundabout and across a T-Way.
This development would also be completed over a decade before the proposed North West Rail Link became operational. “State Government, it seems, is keen to send people to the area on mass, but has no plans to increase or improve public transport or roads before the rail link is complete” one resident pointed out.
Residents have also noted that the flood zone, which the site stands upon, was important enough for the State Government to be “forced” to impose a Skytrain on the area, rather than underground as per resident’s wishes. However this flood zone has not stopped the planned construction of residential properties, and plans for these properties include underground car parking.
Does the O’Farrell government think these cars will float, or is this their idea of a modern day car wash? Either way, resident’s are not buying it.
To put things into perspective, there is no building currently in Parramatta that is 25 storey’s high. Not one. Parramatta is supposed to be Sydney’s biggest business district outside of the city/North Sydney, yet they don’t need skyscrapers of this size.
Those who visit Chatswood often, may be shocked to hear that the tallest buildings in Chatswood, the 2 Zenith Towers, are 21 storey’s high. This local development is to be even higher. It is also interesting to note that the high rise buildings at Chatswood arrived rather gradually. When I worked there, I was in the tallest building at the time which was 12 storey’s.
Out here in the North West though, the new Liberal Government under Barry O’Farrell, are going at it like a bull at a gate. Residents in the area were upset with the proposed 6 storey devolpment, so the New South Wales Minister for Planning and Infrastructure, decided to change it to 25 storey’s instead. Are we being punished in this region for something, it sure as hell feels like it.
The area in question is a residential area, with no building over 2 storey’s high. The planned skyscrapers will be mere yards from current residential properties. Far from being in keeping with the areas character, this development will forever change it.
Visitors to the Shire coming in via Old Windsor Rd will form an instant impression of the area as they wait to turn into Samantha Riley Drive.
On the Blacktown council side of Old Windsor Rd they will see a large park, complete with gardens, ducks, a pond, and a large fountain. Cycle and walking paths surround the park, with families playing, riding, and walking on them.
On the Hills Shire side, under council and state government plans, they will see a concrete jungle. A multi level concrete commuter car park, similar to that at Seven Hills station, and across the road, 2 25 storey eyesores with residents socks and underwear drying on their balconies. Nice.
One resident at the rally queried whether council were going to have the gall to continue to call the area “The Garden Shire”. “Maybe they have a sense of irony” the resident suggested.
What has also infuriated local residents is the lack of interest or care from council, the councillors, and the Local MP’s.
Liberal Clr Michelle Byrne was the only representative of any level of government to attend any of the resident action group meetings, none of them showed up for the rally, although ALP Clr Raymond Harty did send his apologies, as he had to attend the State Labor conference. It has since been confirmed that Labor councillors intend to fight the proposal, which is most welcome indeed.
Former Mayor, and Liberal Clr Mike Thomas did not respond at all to any correspondence despite it being his ward, nor did any other councillor respond, aside from Michelle Byrne. State Liberal MP’s David Elliott, and Ray Williams also showed no interest whatsoever.
David Elliot is a struggle at the best of times to be blunt, I did not expect too much from him. Rumour has it when he is in his electorate office he needs a map, a GPS, and a guide just to find his office door.
Ray Williams is also a bit slow on directions. It was only recently that he discovered he lived in a Sydney suburb after all, he was claiming taxpayer money for a living away from home allowance to stay in Sydney City. He thought he lived in a rural community. Ray probably thinks the North West Rail Link is a part of the CountryLink service…
One thing that the residents were keen to point out is that this is just the start for the Shire. “Those who see our actions as a NIMBY thing should think again” one lady remarked, “we are not the only ones who this will happen to, this Shire will end up like Surfers Paradise without the surf or sand”.
She may well have a point. There are current plans by the new State Government and council for hi-rise developments in Kellyville, Baulkham Hills, Castle Hill, and Rouse Hill.
Former Mayor, and current Councillor Mike Thomas in May 2011 said “Many of our residents will find they have a high density development next to their home. This is unacceptable. Fortunately our new State Government is currently removing this terrible policy”.
On the contrary it would seem, under a Labor State govt people got to fight to maintain their areas character. That’s why these things have not been an issue until now.
Clr Mike Thomas has failed to respond to any resident’s correspondence on this matter.
I hope Mr Thomas backs residents as his words would indicate he should. He is the only councillor for this ward we have not heard from.
We live in what is called “The Garden Shire”, we need all the help in the world to keep it from becoming the Concrete Jungle.
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