Land wars



Northern Beaches Council has given up on attempts to rezone bushland in Manly Dam Reserve for public use, after the State Government said it would charge for a key land parcel.

The site, currently owned by Sydney Water, has long been a source of contention, with the state-owned corporation receiving significant criticism after it advertised the surplus land for sale in 2015. 

As such, then NSW Premier Mike Baird promised the community the bushland would be transferred back into the Manly-Warringah War Memorial Park. 

Under this proviso, Council prepared a planning proposal to rezone the land along with four other surrounding lots from R2 Low Density Residential to RE1 Public Recreation. 

Council says it wanted to “preclude future residential development on the subject land, protecting the park’s natural aesthetic appeal and the water quality of Manly Dam by minimising potential residential development impacts.” 

However, the approval of Sydney Water was required to rezone the surplus bushland site.

In September 2019, Minister for Water Melinda Pavey MP wrote to Council CEO Ray Brownlee indicating that rezoning of the land lot, and its inclusion in the Manly Dam park, is conditional upon Council purchasing the land. 

Shortly after this correspondence, a community update on the Beaches Link Tunnel by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) revealed the lot has been chosen as the dig site for the project. 

“I must admit, I was pretty appalled when I read the letter from the Minister for Water,” deputy mayor Candy Bingham told Northern Beaches Council.

“I felt it was totally inappropriate.”

Council has since resolved to remove the piece of land from the rezoning planning proposal, as it cannot afford its significant estimated market value. 

State MP for Manly, James Griffin, told Peninsula Living despite Minister Pavey’s response, he understands the land is still intended to be integrated into Manly Dam Reserve following construction of the tunnel.

This is in accordance with the RMS’ tunnel project documentation. 

Stephanie Aikins, Journalist, Peninsula Living Magazine

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