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Kurrajong Developer Claims Advance Knowledge of Council Vote

Nov 20, 2023

Local property developer, Matthew Bennett, claims prior knowledge that councillors will vote in favour of a change to local planning laws at tomorrow night’s council meeting.

The vote will greenlight his plans for a controversial new seniors’ development.

Local’s believe the proposed changes will set a precedent and allow more people to subdivide land into small plots for housing.

In an email to residents of Tallowood in Kurrajong, dated Nov. 15, Bennett states that the Subdivision Planning Proposal will head back to Council tomorrow night and will be supported by councillors and therefore sent to the NSW Department of Planning for gazettal. 

“There will be enough support from Councillors for it to pass,” Bennett wrote.

At the time he sent the email councillors had not even been sent the business papers for the meeting. It is unclear how he claimed to know how the voting would unfold or when the matter would come before the chamber. 

Bennett, is the domestic partner of Hawkesbury Mayor Sarah McMahon and now claims he is not a property developer. However, a trove of documents about the development, going back years – as well as the fact that he has two developments in Kurrajong in various states of progress suggest otherwise. 

The bid to change local planning laws comes as links between property developers and councils have become a renewed focus on the Minns government. 

The one-off change to the Local Environmental Plan (LEP) will allow Bennett to proceed with his plans to subdivide the 13-acre rural site “Tallowood Two”.

In the email to Tallowood residents,  Bennett variously attacks “disgruntled councillors” and “local trash media.”

“I understand that the Subdivision Development Application received nominal submissions when on public exhibition last month, will be supported by the planning staff and will then be sent to the external Planning Panel with a recommendation for approval,” he wrote.

As well as knowing he can get enough bites on council Bennett also predicts other events. 

“Even so, this matter will be used as political football by certain Councillors on Tuesday night and the Hawkesbury Post will be planning to write an aggressive and defamatory article on Facebook to encourage disharmony within the greater community.” 

Bennett has asked residents to either send councillors an email he drafted for them, in support of the plans or address the meeting. He warned that any negative publicity about the project could negatively affect their property values.

“We all need to work together to keep Tallowood’s property values going up and the Tallowood brand positive in the community. Any negative PR from local trash media and disgruntled Councillors will not help. These articles and comments can be googled for eternity by prospective purchasers of YOUR home when it comes time to sell,” he said. 

“Tallowood Two” – in reality an extension of the original Tallowood development – is being marketed as a seniors’ development which would see the land subdivided into 19 saleable blocks of not less 360m squared. The project has been dogged by legal action, allegations of death threats, and is deeply unpopular with many in the local community. .

 

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