A DOCTOR who has objected to a Mirvac development at West Pennant Hills labelled it an amoral move to destroy forests and warned it was dangerous for the community’s mental health.
Dr Robert Wansbrough spoke about the 600-dwelling development planned for 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills at The Hills Shire council meeting last week. He said said living in such a development could exacerbate mental health problems, including the breakdown of relationships, cause depression and violence.
“When close to nature our heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones decrease, plus our endorphins and good health hormones increase,” Dr Wansbrough said. “Physical, mental and social activities are more enjoyable and more beneficial when they are done in a natural environment rather than in the jungle of buildings, roads, cars, buses and trucks of suburbia.
“Our society has a high incidence of mental illness which is increasing exponentially due to the stresses and pressures of life in these times. Depression, memory loss and cognitive dysfunction can spiral into social isolation, violence and suicide.”
Dr Wansbrough said time spent in a forest such as the one at Coonara Ave could delay or prevent the onset of memory loss and mental disorders.
“It is unconscionable and amoral to allow a forest to be destroyed for commercial exploitation,” he said.
“If our State politicians, bureaucrats and the Hills Shire Council allow the Mirvac development at 55 Coonara Ave, West Pennant Hills to proceed, they will have to be accountable for the harmful effects that replacing 20- plus hectares of native Australian forest with bricks, mortar and asphalt will have on residents.
“If this forest is lost, so will the immense therapeutic and preventive health benefits that this natural resource affords.”
Research by beyondblue said the benefits for people who visited green, open spaces was vast.
Mirvac residential development general manager Toby Long said Mirvac built developments that left a positive legacy. “We focus on the health and wellbeing of those living in and around the communities in which we operate,” he said. “In this case, our proposal maintains the existing natural remnant forests and includes public access to the forest areas and dedication of open space for public recreation.”
REPORT SAYS HOUSING WILL SEND FOREST UP THE CREEK
WEST Pennant Hills residents’ anxieties over the future of the valley are growing after the State Government released a plan that shows the environmental significance of the site.
Mirvac plans to develop the site at 55 Coonara Ave where forest now stands.
Protecting Your Suburban Environment spokeswoman Jan Primrose said over 270 residents had sent letters voicing their objection to the proposal to the Planning Department, ministers, the developers and Hills Shire council.
Mirvac is proposing the development of 600 high and medium-density houses at the former IBM site.
Ms Primrose said key issues such as the Darling Mills Creek corridor, which was on this site, being included in Sydney’s Green Grid Plan were ignored.
“While there’s a lot of areas in Sydney that are under pressure from Priority Precincts and the resultant overdevelopment, this development is extraordinarily inappropriate,’’ she said.
The Greater Sydney Commission recognised the significance of the Darling Mills Creek as an important waterway for its ecological function and for greening and cooling the urban landscapes of the district in its Draft West Central Plan, which was exhibited in March.
“Many of the problems inherent in this proposal cannot be resolved after a Gateway approval,” Ms Primrose said.
“The problems should have been resolved before council sent the proposal off to the state government for determination — the Planning Department must not approve this development in its current form.”
Residents Infrastructure and Planning Alliance representative Justine Smillie said the Greater Sydney Commission has indicated that a precautionary approach be adopted when considering rezoning employment land.
“It is recognised by planning experts that access to employment near the home is a key element of livability,” she said. “An alternate option for the site would be an education precinct, noting that the population of the area is forecast to increase by approximately 30 per cent over the next 20 years, there will be a need for additional schools and tertiary education facilities. Both the location and facilities of this site make it ideal for use as an integrated secondary and tertiary campus.”
Mirvac Residential Development general manager Toby Long said Mirvac is working to understand and preserve the ecological importance of the surrounding environment.
“We have done extensive ecological mapping of the site, including the Darling Mills Creek,” he said. “While the planning is still underway, our proposal preserves Darling Mills Creek and the site’s natural remnant forest.
“Our plans sit within the existing footprint of the IBM buildings and roads, and protects the existing Blue Gum High forest and Sydney Turpentine Ironbark forests.”