Newcastle Herald – 11th January 2011If I were a coal mining consortium or a developer, I could afford colourful full page ads.Instead, I can only ask readers to go to or just search on Catherine Hill Bay Subdivision . and lodge objections online. Development here was not in any Hunter or Lake Macquarie planning: it came in under the Part 3A. This is a unique, living historic village – not museum/shops; we’re families, surfers and bushwalkers. Future generations will regret that the money (from mining) wasn’t found to preserve the jetty, but even more, that the dearth of sense and ethics meant the failure to save Australia’s only coastal mining village, almost as it was. My son and I met with Peter Garrett to ask for help to save the endangered flora and fauna, to no avail. There are sea eagles nests where Rosecorp wants clifftop houses; a cabbage tree palm wetland where Coal & Allied want houses, dogs, cats, bikes. Yes, first the canary, now a unique, historic village and habitat. Who will have the courage to protect our children’s  heritage?
Carmel Brown Catherine Hill Bay
Sydney Morning Herald – 4th September 2009Facts speak with many voices on Catherine Hill BayThe Land and Environment Court has reminded the State Government that deals with developers must not come before plans for the people, despite what Frank Sartor says (“Let’s have a little sanity – and a new planning act”, September 3).Consultation is the key to development plans in any area, and the National Trust supports Justice David Lloyd’s judgment that the entire consultation and subsequent determination in the Catherine Hill Bay case was biased by the “land bribe”.

Two years ago the National Trust called on the minister for heritage to place Catherine Hill Bay on the State Heritage Register. We again ask the minister, Kristina Keneally, to list this significant heritage site before considering any further development proposals.

John Neish Executive director, National Trust of Australia (NSW), Sydney

Sydney Morning Herald – 4th September 2009Frank Sartor attempts to vindicate the decisions he made as planning minister. He notes that the planning strategy for Catherine Hill Bay was ”well received”, but does not mention the public opposition to development in the area.The fact that Sartor ignores the wishes of the many citizens who rejected the proposed development shows the extent of the divide between the elected leaders of this state and its electorate.Deborah Pelser Killara
Sydney Morning Herald – 4th September 2009“Let the facts speak for themselves,” says Frank Sartor. Well, they did, and Justice David Lloyd was listening. What he heard them say was bribery and corruption. The answer is not a new planning act but a new government that will not seek to legitimise bribery in development approvals.John Murphy Sydney
Sydney Morning Herald – 4th September 2009Here is a policy matter for Barry O’Farrell (”Time for O’Farrell to open the barrel”, September 3). Will he undertake to save Catherine Hill Bay from destruction?Geoffrey Williamson Woollahra
Sydney Morning Herald – 3rd September 2009Has Simon Mansfield (Letters, September 2) actually been to Catherine Hill Bay? It is a complete 19th century mine-built town, with very few variations to the original streetscape. The only other example in NSW, to my knowledge, is Hill End, a vibrant and appreciated heritage-protected town. Would an AVJennings home be considered appropriate there, let alone 600 of Rosecorp’s dinky-style houses?The fact that Catherine Hill Bay is on the coast should not be an excuse for its destruction.Elisabeth Goodsall Wahroonga
Sydney Moring Herald – 2nd September 2009Congratulations are due to the Land and Environment Court judge, whose decision in the Catherine Hill Bay case should clearly demonstrate to developers and the ALP the difference between public interest and private gain (”ALP donor housing project scuttled by court”, September 1).Sound urban development involves compromises between economic, environmental and social goals, reached through a genuinely transparent and participatory process. In this case, Frank Sartor seems to have sadly confused a “closed door” deal with the rigours of open negotiations. I can only hope the current planning minister will remove the stench of deal-making between the development lobby and politicians.Not every group that protests against development is right. But it makes the case for balanced urban development much harder when the Government’s intentions are automatically assumed to be suspicious or biased.

Gary Moore Balmain

Sydney Moring Herald – 2nd September 2009Now that the Land and Environment Court has ruled the Catherine Hill development illegal, can someone please tell me the difference between a ”donation” and a ”bribe”?Gary Gibbs Rozelle

Older Letters

Sydney Morning Herald – 11th June 2008Is it possible that the Robert and Margaret Rose who were appointed members of the Order of Australia for “service to the building and construction industry … particularly in the area of sustainable urban development and planning” are Bob Rose of RoseCorp and his wife, whose Breakfast Point development is mired in controversy and who are planning the inappropriate overdevelopment of Catherine Hill Bay?Elisabeth Goodsall Wahroonga
Sydney Morning Herald – 17th April 2008Catherine Hill Bay already zoned for conservationBob Rose (Letters, April 16) continues to promulgate the myth that having a green buffer between Sydney and Newcastle is somehow contingent on him winning approval for his outrageous development at Catherine Hill Bay. The land is already zoned for primary conservation – let’s leave it that way.Ian Roffey Oyster Bay
Sydney Morning Herald – 17th April 2008So nice to read that the State Government has done a “swap” with the Rose Group of environmentally sensitive coastal land at Catherine Hill Bay – apparently to the great benefit of the people of NSW.Does it then come under the control of Lands Department? That would mean it can lease sections for 50 years to Babcock and Brown to build 200 “eco-friendly” units, because the department alleges it cannot afford to maintain the area? This is what has happened with the beautiful Killalea State Park at Shellharbour on the South Coast.

Helen Harle Wollongong

Sydney Morning Herald – 17th April 2008Courting the public with the name Rose Group eh, Bob? That a property developer by any other name should smell so sweet.Seth Richardson Enmore
Sydney Morning Herald – 14th April 2008Assault on planning process leaves councils vulnerableSince late 2006 Hardie Holdings has been trying to impose a large, dense development on the small town of Dunoon, 20 kilometres north-east of Lismore. Some of the methods you reveal (“Paving paradise to save it”, April 12-13) are familiar to us: going for the maximum lot yield (nearly 60 lots compared with a recently developed 16 lots on an adjacent site of similar size); seeking to cross zoning boundaries to accommodate lots; alienating prime agricultural land (in this case, for a sewerage plant within 200 metres of the town); and bombarding the local council with consultants’ reports.

The Hardie technique seems to focus on outflanking the planning authority while ignoring community concerns and legitimate objections. After the company first lodged its development application a packed meeting in the town expressed overwhelming opposition. Our letter requesting consultation was ignored.

What alarms us is the modus operandi, revealed in your article, of assaulting the planning process and then pressuring and isolating planners who are trying to do their job. If the company can do this to a state government department, what pressure might it exert on a local council?

Paula McDougall Dunoon Community Group, Dunoon

Sydney Morning Herald – 14th April 2008Not only was the NSW Government completely stupid to trade off unsustainable development and the clearing of sensitive bushland in return for a measly bit of undeveloped land that it could have zoned open space anyway, but thinking that no one would ever spot the link between this deal and Labor Party donations is incredibly naive (“Secret files expose sway of developers”, April 12-13).It’s as if the Government doesn’t care any more, and will happily offer planning approval or dish out any other benefits in exchange for party donations.

Brad Ruting Woolloomooloo

Sydney Morning Herald – 14th April 2008Frank Sartor’s credibility is shot. His claim that “A lot of these people don’t get their own way” is like saying that a child who gets nine ice creams when they want 10 is not getting their own way. Developers, like other pests, are resourceful, adaptable, unscrupulous and absolutely determined. They are to be tolerated, not encouraged. Having said that, if Morris Iemma wants to rebuild his Government’s credentials, the first thing he should do is to show his Treasurer, Michael Costa, the door. When in doubt about the source of the sickness that infects planning, and other public policy areas, look no further than Costa, the man who thinks planning is a “waste of time”.On a more positive note, it is heartening to see that there are still public servants like Steve Brown.

Michael Hinchey South West Rocks

Sydney Morning Herald – 14th April 2008Why don’t we save all that money spent on organising and running elections and just hand over the running of the state to developers? This would cut out the middle man, reduce the need for lobbyists, and achieve the same result.Don Leayr Albury
Sydney Morning Herald – 1st March 2008Tina Jackson (Letters, February 28) provides cogent reasons why Frank Sartor should not provide approvals for developers to make millions from the destruction of Catherine Hill Bay. But what matters more than how much money the developers poured into Labor Party coffers, is the minister’s belief that there is one man alone who exceeds the collective wisdom and expertise of the Heritage Council, the Land and Environment Court, two shire councils and their officers, those who zoned the area as a conservation area, those who nominated it for heritage listing, the officers of his own department who opposed the development proposals and sundry community groups.James Thomson – Dooralong
Sydney Morning Herald – 1st March 2008As a society, we must choose between money and morality. The proposal for 900 new homes in Catherine Hill Bay is morally bankrupt.Governments are elected to serve the people, not to blatantly accept donations that enable them to stay in power. Jack Mundey, where are you?

Ashley Berry – Toolijooa

Sydney Morning Herald – 29th February 2008The planning deftness of Sartor continues to astonishI was not at all surprised to learn that Frank Sartor rejected the advice of an independent assessment panel in approving the rezoning of land in Queanbeyan for a housing project built by Village Building Company. It seems he likes to ignore the advice of his department as well. In 2006 the Department of Planning ranked 91 sites in the Hunter region in terms of suitability for development. Catherine Hill Bay was ranked second-last.

Why then is Mr Sartor considering rezoning to allow proposed developments that may result in a tenfold increase in the number of dwellings and the destruction of the character of this historic former mining village? The land in question is zoned Conservation (Primary). Again, an independent panel has been appointed but if the minister can ignore its recommendations, what is the point?

Morris Iemma reminds us it is not a crime to make or receive political donations. However, the deftness with which Mr Sartor is able to set aside all impediments to contentious projects continues to astonish.

Sirpa Poyzer – Warrawee

Sydney Morning Herald – 28th February 2008 – First Word – Letters to the EditorAttached … Under the current state planning laws, 900 new houses may soon engulf Catherine Hill Bay. This idyllic Central Coast coalmining town from the 1870s comprises 100 historic homes and intact heritage streetscapes nestled in rolling green hinterland on a pristine surf beach. The area is rich in social history and abounds in biodiversity and endangered species…Tina Jackson – Executive Director National Trust (NSW) Sydney
Sydney Morning Herald – 25th February 2008I hope the donations to ministers involved with the Gwandalan/Catherine Hill Bay development proposals will be given back to the developers, their ridiculous proposals scrapped, and that sanity returns to these unique bushland areas so endangered plants and animals will be spared. Tell Frank Sartor to back off for starters, Mr Iemma, and then we’ll know it’s not all hot air.David Sayers – Gwandalan
Sydney Morning Herald – 22nd February 2008Challenge for SartorFrank Sartor must demonstrate he is not in the pockets of the developers with whom he wines and dines at Labor Party functions (“Developers coughed up to dine with Sartor”, February 18).

He could do this by putting heritage values over donors’ profits when he decides whether or not to approve the construction of 900 houses around the historic coastal mining town of Catherine Hill Bay.

Virginia Munro – Clovelly

Sydney Morning Herald – 15th February 2008Sartor’ s urban jungle. So Frank Sartor thinks that turning Ballast Point into public green space is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (“Headland ‘ s price tag a mystery”, February 14). So may it be, but here in Gwandalan and nearby Catherine Hill Bay, we already have the green space, and Frank Sartor wants to turn it into an urban jungle, with no transport, schools, health facilities or other necessary infrastructure in sight. Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ruin a piece of paradise.

David Sayers Gwandalan

Newcastle Herald 9th October 2007Two Friends of Catherine Hill Bay took out the full page advertisement attached in the Newcastle Herald on Tuesday, 9th October asking for local people to write to the Department of Planning demanding that the proposed new development in Catherine Hill Bay be stopped. This shows the depth of feeling that people have for this unique area. Neither of these people live in the Bay, but they do not want to see it destroyed by massive overdevelopment.
Sydney Morning Herald – 30th August 2007Rule rides roughshod over community voices in decision-makingThe timing of Jeff Angel ‘ s letter (August 28) is pertinent. Not only does Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act sidestep existing processes such as local council, community groups, the Land and Environment Court, the Heritage Office and even the NSW Department of Planning, it belittles recommendations and decisions made by previous generations of these organisations.It so happens that this very week Coal & Allied, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, is sponsoring a workshop to produce several master concept plans that will become part of a submission to justify the construction of more than 1000 homes on lands that are now zoned conservation. The lands affected include the heritage village of Middle Camp next to Catherine Hill Bay and valuable bushland and wetlands of Nords Wharf and Gwandalan at Lake Macquarie.

Coal & Allied is rightly proud of its long connection to the lands through the extraction of coal, which provided local employment and healthy profits for the owners for about 130 years.

The fact that development was mainly underground has meant that the above-ground flora, fauna, indigenous occupation remains and the historic mining village has stayed almost untouched and is now of state significance – a gem on the doorstep of Sydney ‘ s suburban sprawl.

The workshop comprises about 30 advisers on Rio Tinto ‘ s payroll, about 12 people representing various government departments but only seven community representatives.

Thus concept plans in favour of this development are assured, even though the majority of community representatives have categorically said they do not want any development whatsoever.

For more than 35 years, people have debated and negotiated the eventual use of these lands after mining ceased, resulting in the existing conservation zonings, yet Part 3A now puts in place the means by which this may be overturned in a matter of months.

Previous generations don ‘ t always get it right but we should at least pay them the respect of having attempted, through due process, to preserve a heritage coastal village and the adjacent, almost untouched bushland for future generations and not allow it to be overturned by the self-interest (for money) of a few and formalised by what is little more than a kangaroo court.

Graham Healy Nords Wharf

Newcastle Herald – March 15th 2005A bridge too far on consultationWHEN the second bridge was built over the channel at Swansea then road minister Laurie Brereton told us it was the bridge the people of Swansea wanted.

Now we have a minister telling us that we will have a development at Catherine Hill Bay that people strongly object to.

It seems arrogance, not consultation, is the way of dealing with people of the state seat of Swansea.

In 12 years of Labor I would like to know what they have actually done for the area.

Ian Atkins
Caves Beach

Published in the Pelican Itch Community Newspaper – March 2007 Through your pages, may I wish the residents and supporters of Catherine Hill Bay every good wish in their endeavours. I returned to this area after a 5 week absence & was delighted with the huge Unification Display presented by all the residents. Rarely does such a public display of community solidarity need to be called upon, but it cheers the cockles of the heart of this ancient crone to see, alive & well, the tried & true old fashioned community support & unity, now so rare & often not found in big cities or even the vast new urban areas filled with the MacSplendouramas & the miseries of huge debts, the owners too consumed with their own egocentric problems to consider anything such as the “big picture, long term”. I encourage all who are able to take a spin down Flowers Road to the Catherine Hill Bay hamlets & see a very special, magical & once in a lifetime, greatest public display or community support & love. My sincere congratulations to all residents of Catherine Hill Bay , & may you enjoy your homes & your beautiful & unique environment for many generations to come. Zoe Russell
Published in the Newcastle Herald Saturday 3rd March 2007I think NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor has let power go to his head. That sort of action can be dangerous, especially to sensitive areas like Catherine Hill Bay. Historical Catherine Hill Bay will be lost forever if this proposed development goes through. I wonder how many projects have been pushed through in his childhood area of Yenda-Griffith.Jan Holley, West Wallsend
Published in The Daily Telegraph, Page 018 (Tue 27 Feb 2007)The proposed Rosecorp development at Catherine Hill Bay reflects poorly on the nature of the relationship that the State Government keeps with industry bodies such as the Urban Taskforce (The Saturday Daily Telegraph, February 24).The inappropriate nature of large-scale development in this historic mining town makes it surprising that NSW Planning Minister Frank Sartor would muddy his name by getting involved. If the two local councils and the Land and Environment Court saw fit to reject the development (even quashing an appeal), one could safely assume that expansion by way of 600 homes, shops and a hotel is clearly inappropriate for the Heritage-noted village.

It is patently clear what has gone on here. Frank Sartor must have some gall to think that people would not notice.

Renee Ward, Beacon Hill

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald – Wednesday 15th February 2007 – “First Word” Letters to the EditorIf we don’t stop our heritage from being bulldozed, who will? I agree with S. Poyzer (Letters, February 14) that it was gratifying to see people demonstrating in Hyde Park against the NSW Government’s Part 3A planning powers. However, the small number present and the feeling that a Liberal government, judged by its past and present record, would change little, left me, for one, in deep despair.

A total of 316 development projects have been approved by the NSW Government in the past 12 months or so using the Part 3A legislation. This has occurred despite unequivocal rejection by either the Land and Environment Court, the Heritage Office, a local council, the NSW Department of Planning or a local community organisation.

In the case of projects such as Catherine Hill Bay, the proposed development was rejected by each and every one of the above over a period of five years. Yet just six months after the NSW Land and Environment Court’s rejection of the development, the Government reversed that decision through the Part 3A planning powers.

The Department of Planning had earlier assessed Catherine Hill Bay as one of the least favourable locations for residential development in the Hunter region (91st out of 92 locations assessed).

The evidence is overwhelming yet the greed factor is so high that all common sense is put to one side so that a few very wealthy individuals can become a little more wealthy. Meanwhile, the environment, natural or man-made, is possibly lost forever.

The Rocks and the Queen Victoria Building (with huge financial gains in mind for a few) were destined to be demolished as recently as 1970. They were saved essentially by a small number of people who gained nothing financially but gave the city of Sydney its soul. A soul that today nobody would advocate removing.

Each of the above 316 projects has been through a rigorous assessment process over many years and, if saved from the rejected development proposals, could very likely become the soul of their region in much the same way as The Rocks and QVB are for Sydney’s CBD.

I call on all to stand up and be counted, for our children’s sake.

Graham Healy Nords Wharf 

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald – Tuesday 14th February 2007 – “First Word” Letters to the EditorLibs no more convincing than Labor on protecting our heritage 
It was gratifying to see so many people on Sunday protesting in Hyde Park against the abuse by our Planning Minister, Frank Sartor, of the Part 3A planning powers (“Despite Frank objections, Debnam stays silent on ban”, February 12). Peter Debnam spoke convincingly and promised, if he is elected, that project planning decisions would be judged on their merits.Oh, how I wanted to believe you, Peter. But can I trust you? Early last week your planning spokesman said a Coalition government would dump the Government’s plans for high-rise in the redevelopment of East Darling Harbour. By Friday this had been watered down to an undertaking to conduct a thorough review.

Tellingly, there was no promise to repeal the abhorrent Part 3A legislation, only to limit its use, and no promise to ban political donations from developers, only the promise of an independent review.

Under the Part 3A legislation, the planning minister can declare any project a “major project”. In 2005-06, Mr Sartor declared 350 major projects and approved 316 of them, despite objections from residents and councils (the latter effectively having had their planning powers stripped from them).

Why is this Government approving just about every project that lands on Sartor’s desk, bypassing normal planning controls? I believe the main reason is that this Government is terrified that the “Premier State” will lose its title as a result of our slowing state economy. The Government, short on ideas, is naively hoping for a housing-led recovery. With this mindset, environmental, heritage, coastal protection, amenity and equity concerns are easily set aside.

Naturally, the big end of town is delighted to be profiting from the Government’s decisions. The losers, the people of this state, are left to watch as their heritage is squandered.

Can anything be done to control the excesses of this Government? Will the Liberals be any different, as they helped pass the Part 3A legislation? I would say the best hope lies in electing minority party representatives and independents. Voters disillusioned with both major parties can take what little is left of our democratic processes and use their votes to effect change at the election.

S. Poyzer

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald – Thursday 8th February 2007Save the hillMany thanks to Elizabeth Farrelly (“A little bare-faced cheek from the right people works wonders”, February 7).

Catherine Hill Bay is a treasure to be preserved. I have spent many days surfing there and always relished the difference this community holds in the modern world. To develop it would be un-Australian – and for once I use the term advisedly.

What seems to be apparent is that Rose Corp can make a quick buck from cheap land.

Frank Sartor, think again.

Paul Healy – Potts Point

8th December 2006 – Cr Keith Parsons – Newcastle City CouncilRecent comments by Planning Minister Frank Sartor (Star, Nov. 1) to justify approving 1000 new homes at Catherine Hill Bay (and in doing so destroying its unique character} were outrageous.
His decision overturned a Land and Environment Court decision, ignored Lake Macquarie City Council’s opposition as well as his own Department of Planning and NSW Heritage Office advisors and he reneged on his commitment to add the Bay’s two settlements to the State Heritage Register.
Sartor claimed that “people concerned about losing the town’s heritage needed to take their place in the queue”, implying a hierarchy of issues to consider. He cited these as “environmental, planning, infrastructure, urban design and heritage”. The issues should be complementary, not competing. It’s obvious that heritage was at the bottom of Mr. Sartor’s queue. The unsaid issue at the top was profit maximization by the developer, Coal and Allied and his Government’s indebtedness to the property development industry.
Sartor called on objectors to “take a cold shower and come back and talk”. Why bother? He has made his decision. The next step has already begun. It’s called “community consultation” by Coal and Allied but in reality it’s nothing more than damage control and public relations.
If Mr. Sartor’s Honeysuckle and Royal Newcastle Hospital site developments are anything to go by, community consultation means calling for public and council submissions and subsequently ignoring them.

The overarching issue here is the absolute powers Mr. Sartor has given himself under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. They allow him to, without justification, become consent authority for any development he chooses. He anoints them “major projects” and then do what he likes (with no right of appeal and the public be damned).

20 November 2006 – Micheal Osborne – Greens Councillor on Newcastle City CouncilAt our Newcastle Greens Local Group meeting on Saturday 18 November, 2006 it was resolved that:Newcastle Greens congratulate the Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association on its campaign to defend the integrity of the Bay’s natural and built heritage.Newcastle Greens condemn the unethical actions of Planning Minister Sartor in brushing aside the appropriate and legally based planning decisions of the Lake Macquarie City Council and the judgment of the Land and Environment Court.

Newcastle Greens call for the abolition of Part 3A of the Planning Act that has allowed Minister Sartor to take hundreds of decisions that favour developers at the expense of the community.

Newcastle Greens reiterate NSW Greens policy that calls for the banning of developer donations to political parties. They urge the Iemma Government to withdraw its opposition to, the Anti Corruption (Developer Donations) Bill introduced by Greens MP Lee Rhiannon to amend the Election Funding Act.

We note that the NSW branch of the ALP has received $7.4 million from the property industry since 1999.

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald – Friday 10th November 2006A louder voice neededWhile allegations against the Swansea MP Milton Orkopoulos are yet to be tested in court, his arrest confirms my long-held fears that the Swansea community has had inadequate representation at state government level.

With the Iemma Government’s proposals to sacrifice the historic town of Catherine Hill Bay to developers, on top of so many other overwhelming developments in the Lake Macquarie area, I wonder if we’ve had any meaningful representation at all. The Government needs to redress the situation by reviewing the recent decisions relating to the Swansea region.

D. Poyzer Catherine Hill Bay

Published in the Newcastle Herald – Saturday 4th November 2006Merit over money, now that is a development!The NSW Urban Taskforce- a group representing influential property developers-has given democracy in this state a chance to regain some lost ground.

The group has called for a ban on corporate donations to political parties, citing concern at the public perception that money from developers is undermining the planning approval process.

Members of the group include Hardie Holdings (which has a major profile in the hunter) Macquarie Bank, Meriton ad Multiplex.

Critics of the development industry have written off the call as a piece of insincere public relations, arguing that the suggestion has so many strings attached that the donation addicted politicians won’t take it seriously.

For example, the developers say the ban ought to apply not only to themselves, but also to mining companies, the gun lobby, timber firms and other interest groups.

And politicians have been quick to urge that any ban would have to apply nationally. Otherwise, donations could be made in a different state and funneled over the border in disguise.

Personally, I’d be happy just to have property developers banned from making political donations in NSW, for all the reasons that former Labor prime minister Paul Keating gave the other day when he addressed an audience of local government representatives.

Criticising the centralization of power in the hands of one person, Mr Keating described “the NSW planning minister-whoever that may be from time to time “as “the mayor for the…developers who’ve got projects over a certain value”.

Here Mr Keating was bluntly referring to the current practice of the minister “calling in” developments over a certain value, taking them out of the hands of local councils and beyond the reach of meaningful public input to make his or her own decisions.

In the Hunter in recent times many projects have been called in, leading one to wonder what is left for the region’s local government to actually do, other than fix potholes and pick up garbage.

Apart from being allowed to make some impotent observations and remarks on anything from coal mines and industrial infrastructure to office blocks and subdivisions, the councils and ratepayers have become virtually irrelevant.

Some worry that this may also apply to the salaried experts in the Department of Planning and other branches of the public service.

Cynics point to Minister Frank Sartor’s recent decision to strike deals with Hunter developers Hardie Holdings, Rosecorp and Coal&Allied over their land at Branxton and Catherine Hill Bay .

Documents obtained under freedom of information laws by the Hunter Community Environment Centre showed Branxton and Catherine Hill Bay were at the bottom of the Department of Planning’s 91-site list of development priorities, based on social and environmental factors.

Hardie Holdings’s Huntlee site at Branxton, formerly known as Sweetwater, was ranked last, and land at Catherine Hill Bay , which Rosecorp and Coal&Allied want to develop, was second last.

The sites were exclude from the draft strategy but Mr Sartor offered the three companies development rights in return for them donating land for environment protection.

For his part, the Minister said he was trying to “achieve a solution that delivers benefits that would far outweigh the impact of any proposed development”.

I am not for one moment suggesting that any political donations which may or may not have been made by these developers had any effect on the Minister’s decision.

But the developers’ own Urban Taskforce has pointed out in its call for a ban on political donations, that the industry faces a “perception-rightly or wrongly-from the community that we’re getting preference in exchange for money”.

If donations were banned, that perception would largely evaporate.

Mr Keating said this week:” The wall of money coming at a minister in these jobs is phenomenal because as you know, the industry is into political donations, which in my opinion should be outlawed”

Greg Ray

Published in the Newcastle Herald – Monday 6th November 2006This is a job for a Super PremierPaul Keating’s recent comment that the NSW Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor has become the “mayor for Triguboff” echoes a growing dissent in the community. The unfettered powers of the NSW Minister for Planning could go to his head. His recent deals at Catherine Hill Bay with developers have ridden roughshod over the wishes of Council, residents, National Trust, Heritage Office and even the Land & Environment Court.

In proposed deals with Rosecorp and Coal & Allied, the historic coastal mining village of Catherine Hill Bay is to be sacrificed to developers. Mr Sartor is dressing up the deal as a win for the environment with the developers handing over the majority of their lands for national parks. However, the obvious flaw in that argument is that Rosecorp had NO zoning for residential development in the Bay anyway as its plans had been rejected in the NSW Land & Environment Court. In other words. Rosecorp had NO leverage until Sartor provided it!

Premier Morris Iemma should intervene at Catherine Hill Bay before this unique, 140 year old coastal mining village, a jewel of our heritage, is destroyed.

S. Poyzer
Catherine Hill Bay

Published in the Newcastle Herald 30/10/06“A well written piece in your editorial of 24th October 25, 2006 on “Mr Sartor’s Deal”.It is quite frightening when one person – Mr Sartor – becomes the almighty in such matters, and history should have taught us better not to let this happen.

How is it that in the case mentioned in Catherine Hill Bay that an area rejected by councils, residents, and the Land and Evironment court, is an environmentally sensitive coastal area, has a unique heritage spanning over 140 years, an area at the bottom of the list of 90 potential sites for development assessed by the Department of Planning is suddenly the top spot for a new overwhelming development by Rosecorp and Coal And Allied?

Now I understand that projects of “statewide significance” should be interpreted to mean those that are significant to developers in terms of profits, and significant to the people of NSW in terms of loss.

David Poyzer
Catherine Hill Bay”

Published in Newcastle Herald – Wednesday 14th February 2007I agree with the protesters (“Village joins in protest” Herald 12/2). What is planned for Catherine Hill Bay is outrageous. Planning laws allowing the State Government to seemingly run roughshod over local government are absolutely ludicrous and a scourge taking our urban areas. There should be a law passed to cease such plans in order to protect this idyllic, tranquil suburb and others like it against such over-development.Dawn Grimshaw, Cooks Hill
Published in Newcastle Herald – Wednesday 14th February 2007A child can see more clearly“THAT would be wrong, Dad.”

Those were the words uttered by my 11-year-old son on the way to the idyllic Moonee Beach, south of Catherine Hill Bay.

It was in response to hearing about the proposed development earmarked for the very land we were walking on.

The statement surprised me as it illustrates concern for the environment from someone so young.

It is a shame that our political leaders do not share the same foresight.

To have a beautiful and unique landscape, with significant conservation and Australian heritage value for all to marvel at, replaced with dwellings to cater for the elite few is abominable.

The people of Catherine Hill Bay are screaming, yet the silence from the politicians and developers is deafening, choosing to turn their backs and be blissfully ignorant of the cries of concern emanating from this community.

The Labor Party appears intent on fulfilling developers’ dreams.

If only they could look through the eyes of a child at our country’s future and see that for this particular development to forge ahead would indeed be wrong.

Stephen Prior

Belmont North

“I really appreciate your cause…I lived on the Central Coast for around 30 years, and just loved Catherine Hill Bay…the lovely old miner’s cottages etc….please keep up the good work you are doing, I would hate to go back there and see the damage these ‘development’ companies are doing to such a great place.I don’t live around the district now, but am right behind you in your fight.”
“With this single decision, Mr Sartor will do more damage than 100 years of mining ever did to this historic area. He will be forever remembered as the person who destroyed this unique heritage area in New South Wales . “
“They would not be permitted to do this in other heritage villages like “Hill End”. Why here?”
“Coal and Allied milked the Bay for its resources for generations. You would think they would have endeavoured to preserve the heritage of the area upon their departure, not decimate it.”
“These development proposals are a disgrace, and will forever destroy the heritage of the Bay”
“Having come from the UK with so many amazing places protected for us to enjoy as they were, I find it surprising that Australia does not seem to have the same sense of protecting its heritage spots.”
“Rosecorp and Coal and Allied’s proposed development will obliterate the unique heritage value of the Bay’s village and surrounding landscape.”
“I am appalled at what I see as urban development
> intruding into the unique heritage village and coastal landscape at
> Catherine Hill Bay on the Wallarah Peninsula.
> Over the years I have camped many times on the beach foreshores and
> enjoyed a quiet ale in the Pub whilst listening to live music. The
> whole town is an oasis in a sea or urbanity … it deserves
> preservation not desecration !
> In approving plans for residential housing, the NSW government is
> ignoring the views of two Councils and the decision of the Land and
> Development Court against the RoseCorp development. It is simply
> deceitful to use the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy to over-ride
> established planning policy – no ‘existing use rights’
> can transfer between a mine and residential
> development !
> The State government ought immediately have the whole
> village listed on the State Heritage Register. I
> understand the National Trust believes the development proposal
> “gratuitously compromised” the natural and cultural value of the
> village and surrounding landscape.
> ……
> Don’t expect my vote in March if this proposal proceeds”
“Your Government’s (NSW) approach to consultation with the Catherine Hill Bay , Wallarah Peninsula , and Lower Hunter Communities doesn’t show leadership. It shows an abuse of leadership, and contempt for those communities. It is bad government.”
“Rosecorp’s slogan “Developing tomorrow’s heritage” seems most innapproprate, when within the Bay their development will undermine the current heritage of our historic village.

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