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The NSW government has taken control of all planning decisions in Appin – and the local council and residents are angry about being locked out of discussions and are bracing for more development, years of construction and lack of infrastructure.

Residents want more consultation and an extension to the December 19 submission deadline for the Appin draft proposal by the Walker Corporation.

Some locals have pointed the finger at the state government’s department of planning citing lack of “integrity and oversight” when it comes to development and transparency when it comes to development in Appin.

Wollondilly councillor Judith Hannan, who recently announced she will be contesting the 2023 State Election as an independent, said the government doesn’t care about Appin, since it is now in the safe Labor seat of Campbelltown.

“They can do whatever they want to Appin and it will have no consequences for them. They can look after their developer friends. Why would they care; they are about being re-elected.”

Cr Hannan has an issue with the state taking control of major developments in Appin and Wilton, in a bid to unlock more housing in NSW.

She said it’s already taken control of development applications and now it has taken strategic planning.

She said councillors are the first point of contact about these issues.

Residents said the four weeks that people have to submit a written response is not enough time to look at the copious amounts and documents and respond.

“It’s extremely unfair all the land owners and the council have been locked out of the decision making,” one long-time resident, who doesn’t want to be named said.

“The only people who have been privy to the information is the big developers and the government. It’s going to affect every Appin resident.”

In the last Census there were 1040 residences in Appin with 3230 people.

“Just the initial rezoning for 3500 houses could add 11,000 plus people…”

Adding to the development pressures is the Outer Sydney Orbital 2 (OSO2) which also was released before Christmas a few years ago. Residents successfully secured an extension and even had fought to have two better options short listed, one was the favoured blue line above the ill-conceived yellow line option which would have impacted homes and properties.

Residents recently found out through their own research, other options are now being considered without public consultation.

“This was updated ( November 21, 2022) without any apparent…notification to previous submitters,” Jo O’Brien from the Outer Sydney Orbital Macarthur Action Group said.

“There is an entirely different option presented that was never subject to public consultation. The OSO now takes a looping turn to run south through west Appin, and it terminates at the edge of the development/growth area. From here it will apparently link to Picton Road, possibly via or near Douglas Park Drive and MacArthur Drive. There is no indication of an exact route, or proposed consultation or notification of anyone on this path.

“It is hard to believe the government went through the whole prior consultation process (2020-2021) for the OSO2 without being aware of these issues and constraints and the need to eventually connect to Picton Road. That consultation has been rendered effectively pointless.

“The prior “yellow” path is now the transit road for the new [Appin] development.

“Private landholders who thought they had been successful in saving their properties are now back in the path of a major road, but has been renamed as the East-West Connection road.”

Michelle Mouron from Help Save Appin, said that from all reports infrastructure will only be delivered after achieving “a specific number of residential lots in most cases”.

Ms Mouron said when Appin Vale – now North Appin along with Brooks Point Road development, 11 years ago – the cost of the combined infrastructure was $379 million. Locals are still waiting for that infrastructure to be delivered.

“These issues need to be addressed before this is even considered or fast tracked…not after [the] 14,000th lot has been sold; by then the damage will be done and [is] undoable.”

A Department of Planning and Environment spokesperson said all submissions will be considered to determine if the land should be rezoned. 

Angus Braiden should be relishing some time off after just finishing his Higher School Certificate and should be planning something for Schoolies Week – but the 18 year-old is planning political strategies and on the campaign trail as Labor’s preselected candidate for Wollondilly.

He defeated one other local candidate.

At 18 years and two month, the Bowral resident is the youngest state candidate ever – he has never voted, but became a Labor member at age 15. He is under no illusion about the task ahead of him, but with team that has accrued thousands of campaign hours, he is optimistic he can make a difference.

“I have seen the community crumble in front of my eyes and I am sick of it,” Mr Braiden said.

“I am angry about all the stuff; we are losing our basic infrastructure and the heap of development that is coming in. We are the dumping ground of Sydney.

“I can’t sit around and do nothing about it. I wish I could go off on schoolies, but I just can’t do that with all the issues we have in this area.

“We need a community representative to represent us in parliament.”

He doesn’t shy away from the fact he comes from a working class background. His family are Labor voters, but not members.

“I was raised with Labor values; social equity, social justice and just helping your fellow man.”

He said the people of Wollondilly help each other and that’s been proven time and time again.

“This is who we are around here, we help our fellow man.”

Mr Briaden knows the Liberals hold Wollondilly with a healthy majority of 14.2 per cent, but still believes in having a go.

Mr Braiden worked consistently to sway preselectors and showed them he had a simple, but positive platform – his efforts were rewarded.

“I put forward the basic policies that were needed; I wasn’t asking for some huge platform policy.”

“Our roads are falling apart, our rail system is just gone, and we have complete under funding of our essential services.

“We have a community movement building around here; it’s very basic issues that we need fixed around here. We are not running on some extreme platform, we want to fix the basic issues – roads, transport and education.”

He said Wingecarribee had similar issues to Wollondilly.

Asked if he would support lowering the voting age to 16 as has been suggested in New Zealand, he would like to see optional voting for those aged 16-18.

He knows there is a lot of work to do between now and March 25, 2023 and in Wollondilly there are important issues such as Picton by-pass and the raising of Warragamba Dam wall.

He is vehemently opposed to the raising of wall citing the Aboriginal heritage that would be lost and the animal habitats that would be impacted.

He said there are other strategies that could be adopted “it’s not going to mitigate floods”.

“This will only negatively affects us, they have taken us for granted…”

He said over-development is another big issues with both Wingecarribee and Wollondilly which are earmarked to have 19,000 houses pushed through.

“We don’t have the services or infrastructure, we need controlled development, not over development.

“We will end up becoming a suburb of south west Sydney, and we are not, we are our own communities.”

While he will be utilising social media as a platform to highlight and explain polices, he will also be out and about.

“I am going to be talking to the community. I think there is a real disconnect.

“We are not going to be using social media to attack, but to explain our policies…and explain the effects.”

Mr Briaden wants a clean campaign and doesn’t want to attack.

“If they want to attack my age…I am going to focus on policy and what we can do for this area. I am going to focus on stuff that actually affects us.

“It doesn’t matter if there is an 18 year-old representing you to an 80 year-old as long as they are getting the policies done.”

He said the current political system is broken, with the constant personal attacks on individuals “rather than talking about your own policies”.

Having already been accepted for early entry to university, while he is looking at a combined law and engineering degree, his focus at the moment, is far away from any text book.

Home gardeners are encouraged to wear a face mask and gloves while handling potting mix and compost, and to wash their hands thoroughly, to avoid contracting Legionnaires’ disease.

There were 96 cases of Legionnaires’ disease so far this year from the type of bacteria that can be found in potting mix and soils in NSW, and 106 were reported last year. A woman in her 60s died from the disease in Sydney this week.

Symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease that include fever, chills, a cough, shortness of breath, aching muscles, headache, tiredness, loss of appetite and diarrhoea – can develop up to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria.

NSW Health Executive Director, Dr Jeremy McAnulty, said gardeners can take simple precautions to ensure they are safe when gardening.

“Put on a face mask and wear gardening gloves before you open the bag of potting mix and handle the contents,” Dr McAnulty said.

‘‘Most people who breathe in the bacteria don’t become ill, but the risk of infection increases if you’re older, a smoker, or have a weakened immune system.

“Wetting the potting mix first also helps prevent any contaminated potting mix dust blowing up into the air and being inhaled.

“Even if you’ve been wearing gloves, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap before eating or drinking as the bacteria could still be there.”

To minimise the risk, people should always read and follow the manufacturer’s warnings on the outside of the bag.

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