NSW planning minister Tony Kelly announced on January 18 he had approved plans by Delfin Lend Lease to build 4800 homes in Calderwood, west of Albion Park.
The decision has angered many nearby residents. It also ignored strong opposition from Shellharbour council. Opponents of the development say it is unnecessary and will destroy prime agricultural land.
The Calderwood development, which falls within the boundary of Shellharbour Council, was approved under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act.
Part 3A allows the minister to approve unsustainable developments with minimal community consultation.
On February 1, NSW election candidates for the Greens and the Socialist Alliance issued a joint call for the annulment of the Calderwood development approval.
Greens candidate for Shellharbour Peter Moran said: “The Calderwood development is an environmental and planning disaster in the making.
“It is apparent that planning minister Tony Kelly has learnt nothing from the experience of Queensland families who built their homes and futures on flood plains.
“The filling of the [Calderwood] flood plain can be expected to increase the incidence of flooding in Albion Park, as well as increasing runoff into Lake Illawarra.
“To lose prime agricultural land for the sake of increasing a developer’s profits is a crime against the future.”
Moran said the “ratepayers of Shellharbour will be required to subsidise this development to the tune of $2 million per annum, according to Shellharbour Council. This will be an albatross hanging around the neck of the Shellharbour community.
“Part 3A … allows politicians to foist these unsustainable developments on communities all across the state. Shame on the ALP and the coalition, who both voted for it.”
Jess Moore, a Socialist Alliance candidate for the NSW Legislative Council, added:
“Rarely do we see such widespread opposition to a single development. The ALP has once again used Part 3A to run roughshod over our community.
“Developer profits have been put ahead of community need.”
She said the development’s environment impacts could affect residents elsewhere in the Illawarra region.
“Parts of this land are seriously flood prone,” said Moore. “The idiocy of developing floodplains speaks for itself. But worse still is that plans to fill in and develop the floodplains will also increase the risk of floods impacting homes in surrounding areas.
“Calderwood is too far away from adequate supporting infrastructure. The cost to the local community to service it will be immense.
Moore also said Calderwood is of high conservation value. “It is also among the highest grade agricultural land in the Illawarra. It shouldn't even be considered for housing.
“The community needs to decide what parts should be simply conserved and what parts should be used for food production.”
Gareth Ward, the Liberal candidate for Kiama, has also voiced his opposition. He told the January 19 Illawarra Mercury that the project leapfrogs development in West Dapto and he has "serious concerns about the development of the Calderwood flood plain and the development of class two agricultural land which is at a premium in the Illawarra”.