The first stage of the Huntlee development near Branxton has been approved by the Planning Assessment Commission.
Huntlee developer LWP Property Group welcomed the decision that represents an important step in the progress of the $1.5 billion project.
“We are very pleased with the decision, which follows many months of consultation with local residents, business groups, the Cessnock and Singleton Councils and the State Government,” LWP Property Group managing director Danny Murphy said.
The project is the Hunter Region’s first new town in over 50 years and includes the development of about 1500 residential lots and just over 50 hectares of mixed use employment lands and associated infrastructure including recreation areas, open space, roads and drainage.
The PAC’s decision last Friday follows an endorsement earlier in April by the NSW Government.
Friends of Huntlee spokesperson Michael Starkey said the decision was “a win for common sense”.
“It’s a huge step forward for our city,” he said.
“I hope the council will be reasonable with dealing with the development applications that will be coming through.
“It will set our city up to be financially and socially viable for years to come.”
Cessnock Greens councillor James Ryan expressed his dismay at the decision, saying the approval “shows that the Liberal Government has continued the former Labor approach to planning”.
“This is a desperately poor decision by the Planning Assessment Commission,” Cr. Ryan said.
“Residents had pleaded for the Commission to engage an independent assessment of the impact of Huntlee on the environment.
“The PAC, like the Department of Planning before them, has not thought this nationally significant site is worthy of an independent assessment.
“We must not forget that the Huntlee site was ranked as the worst site out of 90 for possible development by the Department of Planning in 2005.
“It is most disappointing that the Liberal Government has simply continued the appalling planning process of the former Labor Government.
“Minister Hazzard has refused to overturn the Huntlee site rezoning even though he has that power. Instead the Minister has been prepared to endorse a huge car dependent satellite city at the end of a freeway which will lack public transport and which will do enormous environmental damage.”
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