AUSTRALIA – Proposed development plans for Ingleside will not proceed after an independent bushfire risk assessment found the 2016 draft plan would put future residents in danger.
Department of Planning and Environment’s Acting Deputy Secretary, Planning and Design, Brett Whitworth, said the safety of residents is of paramount importance and both the Department and
Northern Beaches Council agree that continuing with the draft plan in its current form would introduce unacceptable risk to the community.
“Above all, we need to ensure the safety of residents at Ingleside,” Mr Whitworth said.
“During consultation, we heard loud and clear that bushfire risk and mitigation was a key concern to residents in the area. We listened and responded to these concerns, by going back and relooking at the way we were planning for bushfire protection in Ingleside,” he said.
An independent assessment was undertaken, including a peer review of previous studies and report on bushfires in the area and in line with the latest research and NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS)’ latest risk assessment requirements. The report found the draft plan would put the community at risk.
Mr Whitworth said the Department have halted plans at this stage to work with the Council and NSW RFS.
“We need to ensure we have the right evacuation measures in place for current and future residents – especially in the context of other nearby areas such as Elanora Heights, Warriewood, Bayview and Church Point,” he said.
“This evacuation assessment, as well as consultation with landowners will help determine whether any further development could safely exist in the area.
“Any development would need to be at a much lower scale and we would need a guarantee that the road network could handle the extra development in the event of an evacuation.
“It would also need to include upgrades to the existing road network and bushfire defences, for example by introducing strategic fire-fighting water supply tanks,” he said.
A Ministerial direction will be issued to provide certainty for both the council and the community by ensuring the assessment of any planning proposal to rezone land in the area considers the independent bushfire risk assessment results.
Northern Beaches Council’s CEO, Ray Brownlee, said safety of the community always has to come first.
“The safety and security of our community is Council’s number one priority,” Mr Brownlee said.
“Presented with the in-depth bushfire investigations by the State Government, it was immediately clear that the current plans for development at Ingleside are simply not viable.
“We understand this may be a disappointment for some of our residents, but we don’t see that we have a choice. We must put current and future residents’ safety first and we support the Stat Government’s plan to do further investigation to see what, if any, development is possible in the precinct,” he said.
Council will work with the State Government to ensure the community and the Ingleside Community Reference Group is updated as the important additional work is undertaken.