THE decision to set aside 10 hectares of bushland at the Bloomfield health campus to offset the impact of bushland to be bulldozed for six large group homes is a good compromise key environmental advocate for the precinct Neil Jones says.
The Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) will make a decision on NSW Ageing, Disability and Home Care’s (ADHC) $10 million development next Tuesday, more than two years after it was lodged with Orange City Council.
Six homes each with five bedrooms, an office, kitchen, multiple dining and living areas, outdoor patio area, laundry, and several bathrooms will be built to house residents with mental and physical disabilities living at the nearby Riverside Centre.
The development was delayed while the ADHC waited for approval from NSW Heritage and the NSW Rural Fire Service, but as a crown development council and the JRPP cannot refuse the project or impose conditions without agreement from the minister for planning.
An area of bushland home to the superb parrot and the endangered black sallee tree will be bulldozed to make way for the development, but after years of negotiation the site will be increased from the 2.9 hectares proposed to 12.9 hectares - with 10 set aside as an environmental offset area.
Bloomfield Bushland Advisory Group chair, Mr Jones said it was a good result, allowing the important group homes to be built while also protecting some of the bushland.
“They identified the importance of the threatened species and they’ve required a photographic record of the site before it’s cleared and rehabilitation of the remainder of land,” he said.
“Obviously there is an impact, but hopefully the implementation of conditions more than mitigates the loss that will occur.”
He welcomed conditions requiring hollow logs to be moved from the site of the group homes to nearby bushland, but said it was vital formal plans were developed and acted on for the rehabilitated and management of the remaining bushland.
The bushland group will make a submission to the JRPP asking for a constructed wetland to be considered instead of a stormwater retention basin and the “exotic” landscaping planned for the development to be more in context with the bushland setting that Mr Jones believes will offer patients and staff “peace and tranquility” right on their doorstep and adds value to the hospital precinct.
“Quite apart from being a fantastic biodiversity area for threatened species ... it also lends itself to a community bushland care group made of people who work for the hospital, residents and clients,” he said.