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Kurrajong residents furious as controversial development begins
The construction of the divisive new Kurrajong development, “Tallowood Two” has commenced amid warnings from residents of neighbouring Tallowood that they will try and block the project. Local property developer Matthew Bennett, has officially informed Kurrajong residents about the beginning of construction of “Tallowood Two”, which began Monday as more trees were cut down.
The development is Bennett’s third in the small village alongside the completed original Tallowood and the residential/commercial “Bark Park” development that was recently approved by the Land and Environment Court.
“Tallowood Two” is situated next to Tallowood, on a 13-acre rural site. The developer wants to change the Local Environment Plan (LEP) to sell 19 dwellings on blocks of not less than 330 sqm. But residents of Tallowood argue that the developer does not have their required consent to do so, and that dealing with Bennett over more than half a decade has been a “nightmare.”
They say that their consent had been misrepresented on documents and in subsequent litigation.
“We have the title deed, we own the property. It’s got to be a unanimous decision of the owners of Lot 1 (Tallowood) to allow them to use the services and that decision is going to be – No,” Tallowood resident Liz Peers told the Hawkesbury Post.
“I wouldn’t touch the new development proposed, “Tallowood Two” with a barge pole because I don’t believe he has the authority to subdivide that bit of land. He’s got the authority to build 16 houses but on one title,” she said.
Peers bought into Tallowood seven years ago. “It’s a beautiful place to live marred by the activities of the developer. It’s been a nightmare. It’s been grief for seven years, it’s like fighting mercury,” she said of her dealings with the developer.
Bennett’s domestic partnership with HCC Mayor Sarah McMahon has also reignited long standing concerns of the relationships between property developers and local councillors. A final decision on whether there will be a change to the LEP rests with councillors. The majority of councillors voted in favour of the changes at a meeting earlier this year. Four councillors including the Mayor recused themselves from the vote.
There has also been unease about the perceived lack of transparency regarding the key players involved. “Tallowood Two’s” plans list Bennett’s 86-year-old mother, Pamela Bennett, as the sole applicant for the development but the actual beneficiary/s of the development’s financial gains remain a mystery. Bennett himself and his business partner, Steve Guo-Ting He, are both identified in the lodged planning documents.
Bennett and Cr. McMahon have both maintained they are not property developers. In November 2021 – prior to the local council elections – McMahon signed a Statutory Declaration stating that she is not a close associate of a property developer. The Office of Government issued a letter to Bennett last year saying he did not meet their technical definition of a “Property Developer.”
In an email sent late Friday to residents of Tallowood resident, Bennett asserted that the development is within its rights to proceed. He called upon residents to respect the Community Management Statement outlined in the Contracts for Sale and subsequent decisions from the Court, Council, and Department of Planning.
“These have all confirmed that Mrs Bennett and her representatives have all rights necessary to complete the approved Stage Two development of Tallowood with unrestricted access to the Community Property including installation, connection and alteration of services. Accordingly, we ask that you please respect the Community Management Statement that was contained in all Contracts for Sale and registered to all titles, and the subsequent decisions of the Court, Council and Department of Planning,” Bennett said in the email seen by the Hawkesbury Post.
The Planning Proposal is now on public exhibition until 20 September 2023. It can be viewed here: https://www.yourhawkesbury-yoursay.com.au/exhibition-of-planning-proposal-lep005-22-6-21-vincents-road-kurrajong
Written submissions in relation to the Planning Proposal can be made under the Survey tab in the above link or in writing with reference “LEP005/22” and posted to Hawkesbury City Council, PO Box 146, WINDSOR NSW 2756, or emailed to email@example.com