Documents received by Wadalba East landowner Paul Hanna under the NSW Government Information Public Access (GIPA) Act, show the scope of a Council sewer and drainage project changed after Council received State funding for the project.
Mr Hanna is one of more than 40 potential developers of the land release area rezoned for about 1200 residential blocks in 2021.
Council received funding from the State Government’s Regional Housing Fund in 2021 to fasttrack the development.
One document showed an email trail within Council after someone complained about the disconnect between the funding and what was actually happening.
The original project description stated “Planning and design of sewer and stormwater basin infrastructure for the Wadalba East release area”.
“That is what we made the original request for and was certainly the intention in the earlier days of the funding until the ‘De-risking Team’ became involved,” a council employee stated in an email.
“The NSW Regional Housing Fund (RHF) website does not say environmental investigations, interrogate the original rezoning etc.”.
The internal email asked how Council had pivoted to its “current focus on biodiversity and servicing”.
In reply, one suggestion was to ask the State Department of Planning to accept a change of wording on the scope of the project to “Planning and designs required to “de-risk” the release area leading into construction”.
Other GIPA documents show a proposed program of works included possible amendments to the DCP and the LEP/rezoning as well as revised ecology calculations. Landholders say this will add years to the process.
Council said the goal of the Derisking Wadalba East Land Release project is to address outstanding biodiversity and servicing risks to accelerate and optimise housing development in the area.
But landowners just see more delays with council duplicating work they have already done and that has cost them millions.
With increased Land Tax bills reflecting the residential zoning, and now needing to be paid, one land owner has already collapsed and Mr Hanna fears there could be more.
“People are sleeping in cars because of the lack of housing and we have landowners that have gone to the wall trying to deliver homes,” he said.