• Tony Bosworth

No to talks now with Oakville, Maraylya residents as housing strategy voted through council

A move to canvas Oakville and Maraylya residents about their views on future rezoning or development in their area was turned down at Tuesday’s council meeting as councillors voted to push through the new Draft Local Housing Strategy.

Over 200 submissions were made by residents in Oakville and Maraylya during the consultation period on the Draft Local Housing document and it led Liberal councillor Nathan Zamprogno to call for direct consultation with those residents.

The Housing Strategy document which will guide housing development in the Hawkesbury for at least the next five years, sees a total of just over 1500 new dwellings built between now and 2026, with no major development in Oakville or Maraylya, and no rezoning plans.

Cllr Zamprogno tried to get a motion up that would have seen the council consult with the two communities to see if there was support – or not - for residential development in the future. He was seconded by Cllr Sarah Richards.

Cllr Zamprogno said he was on the record as not being in favour of more development in the Hawkesbury over and above the numbers in the Housing document, which was in line with, and part of, State planning for Greater Sydney growth.

But he also said talk in the two communities was dividing them because some vocal residents wanted some form of sub-division and some did not. He felt it important to find out once and for all what the majority feeling was in those communities.

Cllr Zamprogno said the consultation could be similar to the process used for the Kurrajong Kurmond Investigation Area where a range of building options were canvassed.

He asked what those in favour of development saw as the standard they were “prepared to endure”. He pointed to development on the eastern side of Boundary Rd - Box Hill North, the Gables, Hills of Carmel – and said those developments overall were very poor, very dense, and didn’t seem well thought out.

“I think of that standard being incompatible with what we would like to see in the Hawkesbury. I think what is happening on the eastern side of Boundary Rd is a tragedy.”

He said asking the people for their opinion, “does not put Oakville on the radar for developments. I think asking this community what they want is the best first step at this time. We need to work out what people really want,” said Cllr Zamprogno.

Mayor Patrick Conolly supported Cllr Zamprogno, saying that council could not ignore over 200 submissions.

“I think we have an obligation to do something more to ensure we see what that community actually wants and we do a proper range of feedback from that community.”

And Cllr Sarah Richards said, “we should listen to the community. There is a further conversation to be had. Adding point 4 [to the motion] shows the community we have listened. As councillors we all know they have been hit significantly hard by this council with the rates, but also by the state government with the uncertainty of knowing where the orbital is going to go.”

The proposed M9 orbital motorway has not been given a specific route yet, but it is likely – if it ever gets the go-ahead – it will come close to Hawkesbury’s borders.

Deputy Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett said she didn’t oppose having those conversations with Oakville and Maraylya but she didn’t think this was the right format for it.

“It’s separate from adopting the Housing Strategy. It has been through consultation already. I think singling out something at this stage would slow it all down. I would rather it came as a separate round of discussions. And when we look at areas bordering the state precincts we do need certainty around the M9 orbital. The State government owes the people some certainty. It comes and goes off maps. They have to come clean with the certainty.

“It’s a good housing strategy and it’s a very important document. I think we should adopt the strategy and as a future strategy we engage again [with the people of Oakville and Maraylya].

Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler said, “I think this is a really complex problem. I am happy to consult with the people of Oakville and Maraylya, but this is perhaps not the place to do this. I would urge Cllr Zamprogno to bring this back early next year so we could have a more nuanced discussion. I think this needs to be decoupled from the housing strategy. We really need to endorse [the Housing Strategy] and get a move on. We’re required to have this in place by the state government.”

Cllr Barry Calvert said he had concerns about what message Cllr Zamprogno’s proposed action sent to the community.

“Cllr Zamprogno has tried very hard to carefully word that point 4 so it doesn’t say we’re going to rush out and sub-divide Oakville and Maraylya. But I don’t think it matters how carefully you word it, the people of Oakville and Maraylya will take that statement there as council are now going to start looking at Oakville and Maraylya. I don’t think there is any way of wording it that won’t lead to that idea. It’s not council’s intention and I don’t think it is Cllr Zamprogno’s intention either, because I think what he is trying to say is we are not precluding other areas as time goes on. Maybe a statement such as that would be better. I do have great concerns, I understand there are over 200 people expressing an interest but I don’t think we can mention it here in this strategy.”

Summing up, Cllr Zamprogno – who is an Oakville resident - said, “we can’t do nothing. I have strong views about development in Oakville. I’m against sub-division in Oakville but I want to be a diligent representative for people in our area. This issue is splitting our community.”

Councillors decided to pass the Draft Local Housing Strategy minus Cllr Zamprogno’s motion.

After the meeting, Cllr Zamprogno said he was disappointed with the decision.

The south eastern part of our City – the suburbs of Vineyard, Oakville and Maraylya, sit adjacent to some very aggressive urban growth. The ‘North Western Growth Sector’ is breathing down our neck across the county line in the Hills District, and has spilled into our own patch as the release areas named ‘Vineyard Stage 1 and Stage 2’

“This pressure is tearing our community apart. Some are in favour of development, many against.

“The one thing we can’t do is… nothing. I was disappointed that the Housing Strategy document said little about either the necessity, desirability, inevitability or show-stopping constraints of future development, other than remarking that the not-yet-finally-gazetted Outer Sydney Orbital corridor will continue to hang over us until that matter is definitely resolved.

“I have strong opinions about this, but they matter less than seeking to understand what the majority view in those suburbs truly is. Some individuals or groups might claim to represent a clear majority, but I don’t think they do. I have a responsibility to represent all those views, and I take that seriously.”

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