• Tony Bosworth

New village, homes for seniors, Ag college, funding towards bridge, roads – the Hambledon Park plan

Here’s an exclusive look at the outline concept plan for Hambledon Park, the 253 hectare block of prime agricultural land sitting on Terrace Road across the borders of North Richmond and Freemans Reach.

Since mid-2020 Hambledon Park has been owned by Celestino - the same developers behind nearby Glossodia’s 580-homes Jacaranda development - after the company bought it from the Peel family for a reputed $60m.

Hambledon was originally put on the market in 2018 with an asking price ranging from $120m to $140 million.

The Peel family also sold the land on which Redbank North Richmond now sits.

At the moment the Hambledon land – which used to be a dairy operation but more recently has been running beef – is zoned by Hawkesbury Council for a 25 lot subdivision, so essentially 20 acre plots.

But Celestino hopes to change that zoning and they have an initial plan which could include a new village, an agricultural college or school, homes for seniors and funds towards road improvements.

The Agricultural Enterprise Precinct, as Celestino envisages it, would be similar to the planning for the Sydney Science Park, which the company built in tandem with the CSIRO and Penrith City Council.

“The North Richmond site could demonstrate the future of agriculture and be a catalyst for an agrarian technological revolution in the Hawkesbury,” said Celestino.

Celestino say, “the development can occur with little, to no impact to onsite biodiversity values” and they say there is no heritage on the site.

The developer claims the development would be “complementary” to Glossodia – where the company is building the Jacaranda housing development - and North Richmond.

Celestino adds that any eventual Masterplan for Hambledon Park will include funds for what they call, “more bridge capacity over the Hawkesbury River”.

This is a crucial point because the preferred route for the duplication of North Richmond Bridge has still not been publicly revealed, though only this week Hawkesbury Liberal MP Robyn Preston said she was lobbying for $500m towards the new bridge and surrounding road infrastructure changes. It is not impossible – indeed it is likely - the company has been involved in the discussion given what they say about funds being available for more bridge capacity.

Such a move – were there significant funding – could potentially lead to Hambledon Park being labeled State Significant which would mean any further planning controls or any say on the development were completely taken out of the hands of Hawkesbury Council.

Celestino’s outline concept plans for Hambledon Park were submitted to Hawkesbury Council last October as a submission to the Draft Local Housing Strategy but were knocked back by Council at a meeting in December 2020 because they were deemed not to fit in with the Greater Sydney Commission’s Metropolitan Rural Area plan, which essentially protects agricultural land and provides rules for the number of houses that can be built in rural areas like the Hawkesbury.

The Draft Local Housing Strategy has since been passed by the full council and it sees the total number of new homes to be built in the Hawkesbury in the next five years set at around 1500 new residences.

Celestino’s submission to Council outlining their initial concept plan for the North Richmond site, said it could include:

  • diverse housing options to meet the needs of the Hawkesbury community

  • a new Agribusiness Enterprise Precinct to drive the local economy and enrich the local community

  • a new agricultural school consistent with the agricultural values and relevant to the community

  • a new village centre and open space within walking distance to service the new community

  • new sporting and recreational facilities

  • funding for road upgrades and more bridge capacity over the Hawkesbury River providing wider community benefits of greater evacuation and climate resilience

  • a private wastewater treatment solution and embedded energy network

  • a Masterplan sensitive to existing vegetation on site

  • rehabilitation of the existing watercourses, greening streets which all contribute to aspirations of a green grid and reduced urban heat island

Even though the suggestions were pushed back by Council, Celestino has told the Post they have not given up on the idea because “Celestino believes in the merit of the ideas in our submission on the Draft Hawkesbury Local Housing Strategy”.

“Celestino looks forward to working with Council, and other stakeholders in the Hawkesbury, to plan and deliver a project that is in the community’s interests,” the spokesperson said.

"We have a great working relationship with Hawkesbury Council from our Jacaranda development," added the spokesperson.

"Our first point of engagement for North Richmond will be to meet with Council staff, including strategic planners."

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