AIRPORT PROTEST | 'We're victims of Government planning'

About 50 residents turned up last Friday, when AngelaVithoulkas, leader of the Small-Business Party, joined residents and business-owners from the Southern Gateway Precinct group at Bringelly to discuss Government proposals to rezone land at Bringelly in preparation for the Western Sydney Airport and hub.

From August 21 to November 2 last year, the Department of Planning & Environment exhibited a Stage 1 Land Use and Infrastructure Plan for the airport hub.

"There's great community concern about the proposal to rezone existing mixed-use zones because such rezoning would cause significant detriment to businesses currently operating in this precinct as well as being a major blow to land values," Ms Vithoulkas said.

"The impact on community stakeholders has not been considered at all. There's been no proper attention to design and urban development and there's a failure to consider the environmental impacts of the rezoning."

The proposal by the Planning & Environment suggests the land south of the new airport be re-zoned as agricultural and agribusiness, neither of which are currently being utilised in the region. Expert opinion has found that the proposal is too restrictive in its vision and fails to account for key differences in site characteristics, Ms Vithoulkas said.

"Feasibility studies done here show that the land isn't even suitable for agricultural use, yet these families are being left in limbo while their future hangs in the balance. We're demanding that there must be a more flexible mix of land use to avoid the value of the properties dramatically dropping and to enable greater employment opportunities."

HelenAnderson, of Bringelly, a member of the Southern Gateway Precinct group, has been spearheading action, and her group is concerned that the proposal neglects the unique characteristics of the site that make it unsuitable for agriculture. "It's not agricultural land. We're private houses and businesses -- tradies, childcare, you name it. There's no agriculture in our section, and we're concerned that forcing the land to that use is going to force us out of business," Ms Anderson said.

Ms Vithoulkas agreed and the Small-Business Party is working with the SGP group. "Government all too often undertakes projects without thinking about the broader impact. Here we have hundreds of families with an uncertain future and the possibility that they will not only lose their businesses, but that their property values are going to plummet. It's just not good enough," she said.

"Both major parties are too busy squabbling over a stadium in the eastern suburbs to care about the hundreds of families and small businesses suffering from a ridiculous rezoning project for Western Sydney Airport that's profit-driven for big business masquerading as progress. This area is not suitable for agribusiness but that's what it's earmarked for," she said.

A spokesperson for the Planning & Environment responds:

"The 11,200-hectare Western Sydney Airport hub will be the newest economic hub contributing to 200,000 new jobs for Western Sydney and is the focus of all three levels of government through the Western Sydney City Deal. The agriculture and agri-business precinct presents a unique opportunity for the location of next-generation agricultural practices with the Western Sydney Airport promoting opportunity for significant increases in international exports.

"The draft Stage 1 plan provides a foundation for a conversation with the community and industry. No planning controls on the land have been changed at this stage.

"Extensive community consultation ran for 10 weeks and included three drop-in sessions attended by over 900 people, meetings with community groups, industry and the landowners in the agri-business precinct. We got over 36,000 website visits and held over 40 meetings with industry and landowners, with 600 submissions received in response to the draft plan.

"The Western Sydney Planning Partnership, comprising eight Western Sydney councils, will consider the submissions to inform the next stage of the planning process. Penrith Council and Liverpool Council are key drivers in assisting the government through the planning partnership to finalise the next set of land use plans for the area."

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