Lewisham and Summer Hill residents fight for village atmosphere
By Lana Lam
A MASSIVE development proposed for Lewisham could make the small suburb a magnet for high-rise apartment blocks.
Marrickville Council is reviewing local planning controls and has identified the area around Lewisham railway station as a possible site for new multi-storey dwellings.
The areas immediately around Dulwich Hill, Petersham, and Marrickville stations have also been flagged as areas for new zoning controls.
Last week, about 100 residents met to discuss how to stop Demian Constructions’ plans to build five residential towers at the corner of Old Canterbury Rd and Longport St in Lewisham.
Residents fear it will destroy the village atmosphere of the area, harm shopping hubs in Leichhardt, Summer Hill, Petersham and Ashfield, and create traffic chaos.
The $150 million project includes about 500 apartments, 16 townhouses and a shopping centre. Two of the towers would be 14-storeys.
Under the council’s local environment plan, the proposal is not allowed, but Planning Minister Kristina Keneally will have the final say on the proposal because it has been declared state significant under a part 3A application.
NSW Greens MP Sylvia Hale said community participation was weakened under part 3A and that the 30-day exhibition and comments period was a “token process”. Ms Keneally said she would not decide whether to refer the matter back to the council until the plans had been publicly exhibited and assessed by the planning department.
She denied having had any talks about the plans with former Labor minister Carl Scully, who now works as a consultant for the developer. Demian Constructions has in the past donated about $20,000 to the ALP.
Marrickville Labor MP Carmel Tebbutt met senior council staff about two weeks ago to talk about the local environment plan review and the Lewisham development.
Ms Tebbutt said the plans were still in the early stages of assessment. “I will work with my constituents to ensure they are able to feed into the public consultation process,” she said.
Ms Tebbutt was not at last week’s community meeting, which was attended by Marrickville Council Greens and Ashfield independent and Labor councillors.
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TWENTY-FIVE years ago, residents successfully fought off a massive development in Summer Hill.
This week, residents, including some veterans of the earlier campaigns, formed a new group to oppose the Lewisham towers.
Summer Hill resident Glenn Leembruggen was part of a grassroots campaign between 1984 and 1987 which defeated a big development proposed for the Summer Hill carpark.
“It was to retain the village atmosphere,” he said.
Back then, there was no such thing as a part 3A application so the fight this time is very different, Mr Leembruggen said.
“We have no confidence that due process will be given to this,” he said.
Bob Bow lives in Ashfield and works in Summer Hill. He was also part of that fight decades ago.
“It’s a different scenario now,” Mr Bow said. “It’s a much bigger fight because of the presence of 3A, but we have a history as Summer Hillians of doing things and winning.” Details: http://www.nolewishamtowers.org