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Welcome to the Save Cranebrook Website
The old Air Services Australia Site, Northern Rd, Cranebrook

No Development of this land

 

 

Archived website of the successful campaign by volunteers to
save the former Air Services Australia site. WSCA homepage here

 

Latest News

June 2009
NSW and Federal Government unite to acquire entire site

On Saturday the 13th of June 2009 the NSW and Federal Governments jointly announced  the acquisition of the entire 181 ha former Air Services Australia Site at Cranebrook for $17.5 million. The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service will own the site and manage it as part of their National Parks Reserve System.

Carmel Tebbutt and Peter Garrett media release here 54kb
IFC Capital Ltd sale announcement here
234kb


Thanks go to Peter Garrett and Carmel Tebbutt for acting on the concerns raised with them by the public about the development of the site. They have undone a monumental mistake of the Howard Government who sold the site in 2004. Local politicians such as David Bradbury and Allan Shearan were equally involved in this fantastic outcome. They met with us about our concerns and took our message to their Ministers. Penrith Councils role in the outcome was crucial they set the ground work for the acquisition by resolving not to allow the site to be rezoned for urban development. We thank Council immensely. Staff within the NSW and Federal Environment Departments also deserve praise for their efforts.

The real heroes though are the people who refused to accept the development of this site. This was a win for people power. If ordinary citizens had not volunteered their precious time and money to this campaign there would have been no outcome. There would of been no $15 million in Federal funding which was used to buy back this site.

Media Release
Western Sydney Conservation Alliance Inc

Monday, 15 June 2009 

People power saves Cranebrook site 

The Western Sydney Conservation Alliance (WSCA) has thanked the NSW and Federal Governments for purchasing the 181 hectare former Air Services Australia site at Cranebrook in order to protect its unique conservation and Aboriginal heritage values. 

Locals and conservationists fought a five year campaign to stop development of the bushland after the Howard Government secretly sold the site in 2004 to a developer called IFC Capital Ltd for $15 million. 

In the years leading up to the 2007 Federal Election WSCA members had been leading a campaign alerting the public to the developer’s plans. A massive amount of public opposition was generated leading up to the 2007 Federal Election and WSCA convinced the Labor party to commit $15 million towards a conservation fund to help other levels of government buy back the site.  It was this funding extracted by WSCA that resulted in the acquisition of the Cranebrook site. 

“This decision by Carmel Tebbutt and Peter Garrett undoes a monumental mistake of the Howard Government. They deserve our thanks for listening to the concerns raised with them by the public over the last few years.” Said Geoff Brown for WSCA. 

“This result though is really down to the efforts of volunteers, ordinary citizens, who said this destruction of the environment cannot be allowed. These people ran a five year campaign to convince governments to come to this decision. People power extracted the $15 million from Labor at the last federal election which was used to buy the site. Everybody was saying you will never win, but we showed them.” 

“Penrith now has another conservation jewel to be proud of and we hope to work with the Dept of Environment and Climate Change to develop strategies for the sites ongoing management and other initiatives such as setting up a volunteer bush care group on the site.”

 

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May 2009
Penrith Council dashes all hope for Cranebrook developer

Penrith Council on May 4 voted unanimously in support of recommendations that the entire Cranebrook site be rezoned for either an E1 or E2 zoning to achieve a maximum conservation outcome for the site.

Download the Penrith Council May 4 resolution here

Download the Penrith Council May 4 Report here

This now puts pressure on the NSW Government and at a local level Allan Shearan, the ALP member for Londonderry, to deliver on its rhetoric that the protection of the entire site is a priority for them. An E1 zoning will obligate the NSW Government to acquire the entire site. It is now up to the NSW Government to put its money where its mouth is. They must get on with it and sort out a deal with IFC Capital Ltd ASAP.

The quicker we get on with this the better as the site currently has no management.

Download a May 8 letter to Carmel Tebbutt, NSW Deputy Premier and the Minister for the Dept of Environment and Climate Change (DECC), urging that DECC acquire the Cranebrook site here

 

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The buck stops with Penrith Council - The fate of the entire Cranebrook site now rests with the Penrith Councillors

Sam Haddad the Director General of the Dept of Planning has stated in writing that DoP will not override Penrith Councils planning powers. DoP has rejected IFC's proposal that DoP list the site on the Metropolitan Development Program and also declare the site State Significant Development under Part 3A of the Planning Act. DoP have handed back all responsibility for the fate of the Cranebrook site to Penrith Council and urged Council to rezone the site in Stage 2 of the draft Penrith LEP. Sam Haddad letter is here 74kb

Penrith Councillors will stand condemned forever if they back flip on their August 2008 resolution of pursuing the NSW Government to acquire the entire site for nature conservation and that the entire site be rezoned to E2 Environmental Conservation in stage 2 of the Penrith LEP. 

Brad Hazzard, Liberal Shadow Planning Minister, with Ross Fowler, Liberal Deputy Mayor of Penrith,
 declaring that the entire Cranebrook site should be protected by the NSW Government

 

IFC Capital Ltd lodge another revised development proposal with Penrith Council. This would require Council to back flip on its August 2008 commitment to the people of Penrith that the entire site should be protected

IFC Capital have lodged another revised development proposal with Penrith Council in a last ditch effort to get support from Council for a development outcome. This revised plan was lodged by IFC after the NSW Dept of Planning told them that it will not interfere in the planning process of Penrith Council. IFC's new proposal proposes some 450 lots to be developed and is just more of the same with only an additional 10 ha of the site being spared from development. 80 hectares of the site will be destroyed. No matter how the developers try to dress this development up as sustainable and good for the environment the fact is it never will be. It will never meet the sustainability criteria needed to get listed on the Metropolitan Development Program.

Penrith Council must not waiver from its position. The NSW Government and the Federal Government (Peter Garrett and David Bradbury) have both indicated support for the protection of the site and that they will work together with the aim that the site become a new nature reserve. Everything is in position - the funds are there to acquire the site should IFC wish to sell the land to DECC - so there is no excuse for Council not to finalise the matter by rezoning the site to E2.

 

IFC Capital Ltd half yearly financial report indicates the viability of their company is dependent on Penrith Council rezoning the Cranebrook land

This document is an extract from page 11 of IFC's half yearly financial report. It explains their dire financial predicament in that their financier the Bank Of Western Australia can enforce a clause in their contract and call in over $10 million of debt right now due to the fact IFC have failed to get a rezoning for the site. It goes on to say that whilst it is the right of the bank to call in the debt now that it will however give IFC until October 2009 to come good on a rezoning and to repay its debt. If IFC fails to meet its conditions then it will be forced to sell the Cranebrook land in order to repay the bank

It is fairly obvious that IFC are in deep trouble as Council will not be able to gazette Stage 2 of the Penrith LEP until well into 2010. Councils current position is not to support development of the site. Lets see if Council has integrity and delivers the protection of this important piece of Western Sydney

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Penrith Councils position August 2008

Another win for the people and the environment of Western Sydney

4th August 2008 - Penrith Council resolved to support the community view that the entire site be protected from development and that the Cranebrook land be rezoned E2 Environmental Conservation in the new Penrith LEP.

Council passed five recommendations including pursuing the NSW Government to acquire the site from the developer and that the developer be required to properly manage the site until a time comes that they no longer own the site.

Council met with Carmel Tebbutt the NSW Deputy Premier and Environment Minister on October 9 2008 and urged the NSW Government to acquire the entire site for a Nature Reserve. See Councils position paper presented to Carmel Tebbutt here 54kb Note: There are some errors in Councils position paper regarding the extent of endangered ecological communities across the site. Councils used the developers erroneous mapping and not DECC's biobanking mapping

Email the Penrith Councillors to urge them to hold the line and rezone the entire site to E2 Environmental Conservation in the new Penrith LEP

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The position of the NSW Dept of Environment and Climate Change (DECC)

In 2007 Verity Firth the former NSW Environment Minister conferred Biodiversity Certification on the Sydney Growth Centres. There have been conditions attached to this approval including how the proposed $530 million conservation fund is to be spent protecting bushland outside the Growth Centres. The entire Cranebrook site has been identified as a Western Sydney Priority Area for conservation by DECC and Verity Firths conditions state first preference is to be given to using Growth Centres funding to acquire the identified priority areas. This information is extremely important as the NSW Government will be seen to be a pack of hypocrites if they don't uphold the promises made in conferring Biodiversity Certification on the Growth Centres. DECC must ensure the entire Cranebrook site is conserved. See the Biodiversity Certification conditions here (Section 32) and the map showing the Western Sydney Priority Areas here 522 kb

Bob Debus, the former NSW Environment Minister, states in this letter that protection of the entire Cranebrook site is a 'priority'.

Email Carmel Tebbutt the current NSW Environment Minister to oppose any development of the Cranebrook site:
[email protected]

In 2006 Penrith Council started to prepare for its new draft Penrith LEP (Which won't be completed until 2010). Under Section 62 of the NSW Planning Act When a Council makes a new LEP they are obliged to write to DECC to seek its advice about matters such as Biodiversity and Aboriginal Heritage. Below is DECC's advice to Penrith Council regarding the rezoning of the Cranebrook site in the new Penrith LEP.

"Based on the assessments that have been undertaken to date it is clear that the site has significant biodiversity and Aboriginal heritage values.  The DEC considers that those values must clearly drive any future decisions regarding the site.

Having regard to those values, the DEC is of the firm view that the site has virtually no development potential.  Given the identified
conservation values and its size, shape, and current and likely future surrounding land uses, the protection of the entire site is therefore considered essential to maintaining its ecological integrity and the protection of Aboriginal heritage.

The DEC therefore considers that strong preference should be given to ensuring that the LEP delivers protection for the site as a whole. Options to achieve this outcome will obviously need to be the subject of further discussion.  However, the DEC is not convinced that simply because the land has passed into private ownership that this in itself provides clear justification for making the site available for development".

Here is DECC's Section 62 advice to Penrith Council urging Council to rezone the site for conservation

 

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The Sydney media have picked up on the controversy surrounding the Cranebrook development. See the Daily Telegraph story below here and an earlier story from the Sydney Morning Herald here.