The futuristic Ingleside development has been heralded as the poster child for green living - boasting electric car recharging points, 3400 new homes, a town centre, a school and improved public transport. But local residents, including the Sustainable Ingleside Advocacy Group (SIAG) - made up of in ecologists, architectures, engineers and environmentalists - claim the project is falling short of what could be done. The 12-strong SIAG has made a 172-page submission to the NSW Department and Planning asking for Ingleside to show how a modern community can live sustainably and in harmony with the natural environment.
"It's not that we don't want the development to go ahead [but] there are over 100 land owners and sensitive ecological aspects to Ingleside, including plant and animal life, so the development needs [to acknowledge this]," says SIAG coordinator Graeme Jessup.
In the Ingleside Planning Team's Ingleside: Draft Land Use and Infrastructure Strategy, it states: "Ingleside offers a unique opportunity to create housing and community areas within a prized natural landscape, using the highest possible standards of ecologically sustainable development."
This is exactly what SIAG wants, and the group suggests every house has a large rainwater tank, electricity distribution by microgrid, solar PV on roofs, and a modern cycleway network linked to local shops and public transport.
"[Ingleside] should be a world leader. It's an affluent area in an affluent country - this is a real chance to stand out and show we can meet the expectations of a low carbon future in keeping with the state government's objective of a 50 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030," says SIAG member Ian Maloney.
Ingleside is home to numerous threatened and endangered species, and Duffys Forest Vegetation Community member and ecologist Jacqui Marlow says we could potentially end up losing them due to elements of the development.
"To put it in context, Ingleside has probably got more biodiversity than the whole of the United Kingdom. It's a really special area. Ingleside has the southern-most nest of the little eagle and the proposed development will be in its foraging ground.
"If the development isn't addressed properly, it's going to severely impact the whole area."
A spokesperson from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment tells Peninsula Living the department is working with the Northern Beaches Council, UrbanGrowth NSW, the local community and government agencies to prepare a plan that will create a sustainable development for the community.
"The department has carried out extensive ecological assessments for the area and will be seeking Biodiversity Certification for the precinct during the rezoning process,” the spokesperson says.
“It provides assurance that the cumulative impact of development on threatened species is considered before any rezoning for development occurs.
"A key feature of the strategy is the creation of ecological corridors to allow the movement of fauna between Ingleside Chase Reserve and the Katandra Bushland Sanctuary to the east, with the Garigal and Ku-rung-gal Chase National Parks to the west."
They continue, "There will be further measures to conserve the natural environment, including conserving areas to protect the habitat of the eastern pygmy possum, protecting the Angus's onion orchid and other flora and fauna that are unique to the area and conserving.
"There has been a strong community response to the draft, and the department is currently reviewing submissions, including one from SIAG."
The next stage of the process for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment will be to provide more detail on how to drive a high standard of water and energy conservation, as well as examples of water and energy saving innovations, and future provisions for electric vehicle recharging infrastructure.
"The department is also identifying practical and cost-effective sustainability solutions that could be considered for Ingleside," the department spokesperson adds.
The Pittwater community, including the SIAG, will have a further opportunity to provide feedback during the exhibition of Ingleside plan, which is scheduled to be presented later this year.