The recent independent 'peer review' of the Sharks Club's proposal to build five blocks of units 4-7 storeys high on the edge of sensitive Woolooware Bay has delivered good news for the environment.
The review, supervised by the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR), has found that serious environmental issues beset the proposed development - for example, acid sulphate soil contamination, stormwater threats, groundwater dynamics and ambient noise, light and visual impacts.
Despite the fact that DIPNR considers the site capable of supporting some redevelopment - which would be required to better manage and protect bayside areas and improve public access to foreshores - it has concerns about the physical scale of the development, intensive use of the site, and strong potential for impacts to outweight benefits.
The Sharks Club and Sutherland Shire Council must now work to prepare a draft master plan which will address the many concerns of DIPNR.
DIPNR wants a minimum 40 metre buffer zone, then a footpath and cycleway, between the bay and the development; as well as adequate groundwater and stormwater measures to avoid pollution of Woolooware Bay.
Had this proposal not been encouraged by the incautious support of a majority of Shire councillors in the early stages of the development application process three years ago, the Sharks Club would not have been encouraged to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultants' fees to prepare the develpoment proposal, and the ecology of the Woolooware Bay aquatic reserve and the Towra Point Ramsar wetland would not have been threatened in this way in the first place.
The fortunes of the Sharks Club have considerably improved since this massive development was originally conceived as a financial saviour. We now look to Sutherland Shire Council to be vigilant in its future negotiations regarding this proposal.
This article appeared in Sutherland Shire Environment Centre's March newsletter The Centre , and was written by Vicki Simpson.