Valley issues

Wolli Creek Regional Park

Complete the Park!

We’re opening (yet another) campaign to have the Wolli Creek Regional Park completed after decades of delays. There’s an open letter you can sign on the Nature Conservation Council’s website; go to Wolli Creek Open Letter – Nature Conservation Council of NSW . For additional background you’ll find a copy of the open letter below with links to further details and diagrams.

 An Open Letter to the leaders of all political parties represented in the NSW Parliament.   To sign and support go to Wolli Creek Open Letter – Nature Conservation Council of NSW 

Twenty-four years late, what a lark!

Come on, end the wait, make your mark.

We’re stuck on ‘repeat’:

It’s time to complete

Wolli Creek Regional Park.

In 1988, under the Greiner government, Tim Moore announced that the Wolli Creek bushland in inner SW Sydney would be “permanently protected”.

In 1993, Wolli Creek Preservation Society (WCPS) first sought the establishment of the Wolli Creek Regional Park (WCRP) via a private member’s Bill.

In 1998, the Carr government promised to establish WCRP under NPWS management.

In 1999, 2006, 2010, and 2018, WCPS ran campaigns calling on successive ALP and Coalition governments to speed up the glacially-slow rate of acquisition of lands earmarked for the park. 

By 2022, the community has waited an entire generation for their governments to deliver on their promises. But the goal is in sight: today, only 2% of the Park’s 50 hectares remain to be acquired.

Make your mark. Complete the park: ensure that the actions needed to acquire the outstanding blocks and complete the park are undertaken now.

  • Have the Office of Strategic Lands (OSL) instructed to complete the transfer to NPWS of lands it has already acquired for WCRP.
  • Have OSL instructed to actively pursue the acquisition of the four sections of blocks in private hands.
  • Have the Minister for Water instruct Sydney Water to transfer to OSL its land at Unwin St, Earlwood, for inclusion in WCRP

End of open letter

For further, back history to the Regional Park see http://www.wollicreek.org.au/wolli_valley/regional_park

 Wolli Corridor Plan Corridor Plan

A draft Wolli  Creek corridor Plan was released by Canterbury-Bankstown Council in the latter half of 2022 https://haveyoursay.cbcity.nsw.gov.au/planning-our-green-corridors

WCPS submitted critical comments on the Plan which can be read here

Odour Control Unit (OCU)

An abbreviated timeline for Sydney Water’s proposal to build an OCU within the boundaries of the Wolli Creek Regional Park follows.

Between 2009 and 2016, the Society was heavily involved in resisting a proposal to create a motorway tunnel dive site in the western section of the Wolli Creek Regional Park (WCRP) bushland for the New M5. When that was abandoned, with the deplorable destruction of an Endangered Ecological Community at Beverly Grove for an alternative dive site, WCPS turned to gaining the completion of the Regional Park as a whole.

  • 6/2017 WCPS wrote to the then Minister for Water seeking transfer of Sydney Water (SW) land in the Wolli Creek Valley to WCRP
  • 8/2017 SW wrote to Unwin St residents alerting them to site surveying and geotech investigations for an Odour Control Unit (OCU) and promising updates (not provided). WCPS was not informed.
  • 9/2017Minister replied advising that SW was assessing land not needed for operational purposes – and aimed to have surplus land transferred within 12 months.
  • 7/2018SW officer gives first indication (in phone call) that SW may seek to retain a key block of Wolli Valley land for operational purposes (the Odour Control Unit).

During ensuing consultations with Sydney Water from late 2018 to March 2022, the Society put up two alternative proposals for locating the OCU. It accepted the reasons for the rejection of the first, but pressed strongly for the second, which put the OCU just outside the Regional Park.

The Society ran an extensive campaign including lobbying of Government Ministers and local MPs, motions of support from local Councils, media releases and an SMH interview, ‘street theatre’, and support from environmental and heritage groups, plus a widely promoted petition to the new Minister for Water.

The petition received over 5,000 signatures.

In March 2022, There was a dramatic development in relation to Sydney Water’s proposed Odour Control Unit. After a frequently extended consultation period and further review, Sydney Water had narrowed the choice down to three options (see the February Wolli Creek Update of that year) with the choice between the three to be further informed via a workshop with stakeholders on March 24 2022.

But on 23 March we were informed that the workshop had been cancelled and the whole project ‘put on hold’ on technical grounds, while a potential new location outside the Wolli Valley is investigated. New information about toxic gases in the local sewer system means that an extra element would be needed at the OCU and the Unwin St sites were space-constrained and probably couldn’t fit it in without a cost blow-out and more extensive destruction of bushland.

It seems that without the delays occasioned by WCPS arguments, counterproposals, and questions, backed by the support of the 5,000 signatories on our petition, the OCU might have been built by now, only to be found ‘not fit for purpose’ with all sorts of costly consequences.

The odour and corrosion problems the OCU was to solve still exist, along with the new problem of toxic gases. So it is clear that, in principle at least, the OCU has not completely gone away, but only put on hold for 6-8 months, ie until Sept-Nov 2022.

Meanwhile, the Society returned to campaigning for the completion of the Wolli Creek Regional Park, with a return of the OCU to the Wolli Valley now seeming unlikely.

Updated to 30 Sept 2022

Highcliff Road Earlwood

A developer recently purchased a property located at the end of Highcliff Road Earlwood, enabling access to a lower section of three adjacent blocks that he owns that extend all the way down to the creekline. The lowest section of these, which includes the Undercliffe track of the popular Two Valley Trail, has long been designated as land for the Wolli Creek Regional Park under National Parks management.

Canterbury-Bankstown Council decided to postpone a long-000awaited decision to rezone this private land. Immediately after the Council decision, the developer began chain-sawing down trees on the blocks.

The timing of the clearing may just be coincidental, but this deferral decision by Council is a heavy blow. It has been known for years that the lands in question were to be rezoned for inclusion in the Regional Park. The State Government carried out extensive consultations with residents prior to Ministerial approval being given in 2004 to the Plan of Management for the Regional Park. This decision by Council is further evidence of procrastination by both levels of government extending over those twelve years.

Council’s long delays have put recoverable bushland below the cleared area at risk of damage or even destruction, even though it includes mature trees, native vegetation and wildlife. This vital linking corridor should be protected from direct damage or any indirect damage through work on the higher sections.

Henderson St Development Turrella

New twist in Henderson St Development Saga

There has been a series of interesting moves over the proposed industrial units on the creek at 1-9 Henderson Street, Turrella.

In attempting to meet the pre-conditions for consent set by Rockdale Council, the developers appear to have found that their buildings went over the high pressure ethane gas pipeline. This would prevent them going ahead with the original DA, for which they had the agreement of adjacent property owner Allkotes, subject to other conditions being met. A revised DA was the result, rearranging the buildings to avoid the pipeline without improving the elements of concern to the Society. However this no longer had Allkotes’ agreement, needed to provide the access road on the creek bank that we have so strenuously objected to.

The revised DA has now been withdrawn. At the same time Allkotes has two of its buildings up for sale. These adjoin No. 13 and possibly offer alternative access to the land.

We expect further episodes in this saga, and hope for an improved outcome.

A Development Application was submitted to build 20 industrial units on a contaminated site directly fronting onto Wolli Creek opposite Turrella Reserve near the Henderson St weir. This was given a conditional deferred consent by Rockdale City Council in December 2008. WCPS campaigned strongly against the proposal.

Council also received over 300 letters of objection supporting the Society’s stance, including the owners of several nearby industrial units. See the Society’s submissions on the original development proposal here. See our response to the revised developer proposalhere.

Despite the intrusion of buildings and access road construction well into Council’s own 30m foreshore building-free zone, the development is currently set to go ahead. The developer had until June 2009 to meet three pre-conditions:

  • satisfy Council engineers on revised arrangements for on-site stormwater control;
  • arrange a right-of-way access across the adjacent Allkotes site to Henderson St;
  • submit a risk assessment plan in relation to the ethane pipeline which runs across the site.

If these were met, the developer would then have three years in which to commence development.

In December 2009 the developer submitted a new DA with changes to layout to deal with the pipeline issue and a request to have the deferred commencement extended to five years.

It did not address the issues that were of concern in our earlier objections. The Society sent in a further letter of objection in January 2010. See it here.

In its 2009 approval Council issued a 27-page set of conditions to be met by the construction and no doubt many of these will be repeated for the new application, but whether all of them can be adequately policed is doubtful.

Waterworth Park

Waterworth Park is outside the revised boundaries of the Wolli Creek Regional Park, close to the junction of Wolli Creek and Cooks River.

Background

In 2005, The Touch Football Association sought Council agreement to an increase in the number of pitches on Waterworth Park, wanting to go up from four to ten pitches.

Late in 2005, Canterbury Mayor Furolo issued a press release indicating expansion of playing field areas and new picnic facilities along Wolli Creek.

This proposal would cost at least $150,000 to level the park, eliminate many mature trees and remove or significantly impact upon the other vegetation, which is important native bird habitat.

The Society developed a preliminary position paper and a set of counter-proposals that included a modest expansion of the vegetated area and extensive bush restoration work to reduce weeds and improve native habitat. This would enable the bush ‘feel’ of the Wolli Track component of the Two Valley Trail to be continued almost to the junction with the Cooks River.

Since then we have been urging the Mayor to commit to the development of a Plan of Management specific to Waterworth Park to ensure that its natural values are enhanced and the competing proposals for its use can be properly addressed. This request was declined. Council intended to address the issue only through any Development Applications that may be lodged.

Current Position March 2016

This all changed in late 2015 when Council discovered that in order to proceed with a proposal for an Archery range on Waterworth Park they needed to have a Plan of Management (PoM) approved by the Minister for Planning. This led to the hiring of consultants to develop the PoM. The Society’s analysis of issues in the preliminary material for the PoM can be found here Proposed Plan of Management for Gough Whitlam Reserve and Waterworth Park

That document references past correspondence with Council, the initial WCPS proposal, relevant maps and aerial photos and a list of these is set out below with links to them.

  1. cover letter for WCPS proposal Jan 2006
  2. WCPS position on Waterworth development Jan 2006
  3. map of CCC proposals for Waterworth Park
  4. map of WCPS position for Waterworth Park Jan 2006
  5. Wolli Creek Update Feb 2006 see p2-3.
  6. WCPS Proposal for Plan of Mgt Mar 2007
  7. WCPS letter pressing PoM proposal Dec 2008
  8. CCC letter declining PoM proposal Oct 2009
  9. aerial shot of Waterworth March 2015
  10. M’ville report on bridge options Feb 2011

The Future of Wolli Creek

The committee is dealing with many issues related to the future of Wolli Creek with local and State authorities, including the Sydney Catchment Management Authority. We need help on some of these and offers are always welcome.

And we are always seeking information from our older residents with long memories of the valley. If you have any memories or knowledge about this or have research skills to offer you may help us.

Get in Touch

The Society seeks to use members and others in the community to monitor the issues critical to our concerns. If you would like to be a part of this process or want to find out more, please contact let us know at info@wollicreek.org.au and we’ll be in touch.

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