Residents defend Illawarra escarpment

September 27, 2008

Outraged by illegal and unsafe development on the Illawarra escarpment, more than 50 local residents piled into their community hall on September 21 for a meeting organised by Corrimal Action for Rehabilitation of our Escarpment.

The meeting discussed the "Vellar family mansions", two massive houses illegally built, but never completed, on the protected escarpment.

A 1993 amendment to Wollongong's Local Environment Plan allowed the Vellar family to build the houses on the eastern boundary of their lot on land deemed to be stable and zoned "7b Environmental Protection", which permits conditional development. But the Vellars built the houses to the west, on land zoned "7a Special Environmental Protection", which prohibits such development.

Local researcher Dr Clare Leabeater told Green Left Weekly that the deviation "provided the Vellars with a significantly higher elevation and breathtaking views. But it has damaged the foothills of the escarpment over a wide area below."

Residents are calling for the houses to be demolished on public safety grounds. A resolution unanimously adopted by the meeting called on the council "to order the full remediation of the risks of land slippage, stormwater contribution to flooding, and inadequate bushfire prevention ... at the expense of the property owner."

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