New data on land use planning in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven has revealed that since 2010 over 1100 hectares of bushland and agricultural land has been rezoned for residential developments.
The Shoalhaven is a hotspot making up 52% of the total across the Illawarra and South Coast. The 576 hectares rezoned in the Shoalhaven represents an area twice the size of the Sydney CBD.
Land zoned for residential development but not yet approved is sufficient to support an extra 30,000 dwellings across the region. This does not take into account approved developments not yet constructed which would further increase residential development potential. Wollongong accounts for almost 50% of land available for development with Shellharbour and the Shoalhaven both accounting for close to 25%.
Independent MLC Justin Field said, "Hundreds of hectares of bushland and farmland on the South Coast has been rezoned for development in the last few years and the Shoalhaven is the epicentre. The amount of bushland and farmland being rezoned for development is a huge concern to many residents the South Coast. Many people live in and visit the region because of our beautiful natural environment and rural landscape.
"The big opportunity for future jobs in the region is nature based tourism and agriculture. Bulldozing bushland and farmland and other unsustainable development puts these opportunities at risk. We need to press pause on new rezonings and councils and the State Government need to open a genuine dialogue with the community about the type of development we want to see and how the services and infrastructure that must come with that is going to be delivered.
“Importantly the community wants to know that the environmental values and agricultural land of the region are going to be protected. With the impacts of climate change becoming more of a reality everyday, protecting nature and food growing land has never been more important,” Mr Field said.